Metal lures are versatile and effective tools for surf fishing, especially when targeting fast-moving predatory fish like Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, striped bass, and more. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively use metal lures in surf fishing:
My daughter AJ catching a sweet Spanish on a G-Eye Jig
Choose the Right Lure:
Select a metal lure that suits the size and species of fish you’re targeting. Different lures have varying sizes, shapes, and weights, each designed to mimic specific baitfish. While in the surf, I successfully used metal lures from G-Eye Jigs, Beach Bum Lures, ES Lures, and IslandX. Each has a different profile and characteristic that gives a solid variety to choose from, depending on the conditions.
Match the Lure to the Conditions:
Consider the water conditions, such as wave size and current strength, when choosing the weight of your metal lure. Heavier lures are better for casting into strong winds or rough conditions, while lighter lures work well in calmer waters. Also, remember that a topwater lure will act differently in high surf or choppy conditions. A popper is a phenomenal lure, but you won’t also make the splash and noise in the waves. The adage of the right tool for the job is a solid thing to remember here.
Use Proper Gear:
A medium to a medium-heavy spinning rod and reel combo with a strong monofilament or braided line is ideal for casting metal lures. Ensure the gear can handle the weight of the lure and the power of the fish you’re targeting. Remember that you will throw this rod for a while, and your arms will eventually tire out. I love my 12’ Ninja Daggers, but throwing lures with them is not practical. Depending on the day, I’m either throwing the 7’ and, more than likely, the 8’6” due to the castability and light weight of the setup.
Cast the metal lure into the surf zone, aiming for areas where you suspect fish might be feeding. A long, smooth cast will cover more distance and increase your chances of reaching the fish. From a few episodes I have recorded, I have adopted several techniques that have helped me be more successful when I’m “blind casting” and trying to find the fish. I follow the clock method Tim Still of Beach Bum Lures and Cody Edwards of Go Fish Australia mentioned. Start at 9 o’clock and work my way to 3 o’clock. If nothing happens in those, I move down the beach 50 to 100 yards and start again while constantly scanning the water, looking for bait blow-ups, shadows, or a reflection.
You can use various retrieval techniques, depending on the type of metal lure and the fish’s behavior. Tim nailed this for me, and I must constantly remind myself. Predators like to hunt for fish, and a lure must be their prey. Tim said that I remember vividly, “Spanish like it fast. If you’re going after Bluefish, slow it down just a little.”
Fast Retrieval: Reel in the lure quickly to simulate a fleeing baitfish. This can trigger aggressive strikes from predators.
Medium Retrieval: A steady and medium-speed retrieve can imitate a healthy swimming baitfish.
Jerking and Twitching: Use short, erratic rod tip twitches during the retrieve to create an injured or struggling baitfish action.
Jigging: Allow the lure to sink a bit, then lift the rod tip to create an up-and-down jigging motion. This can attract fish lurking near the bottom.
Vary Your Retrieve:
Experiment with different retrieval speeds and actions until you find what works best on that particular day. Sometimes, fish might respond better to a specific movement pattern.
Pay Attention to Strikes:
Keep a close eye on your line and rod tip. Strikes from fish can sometimes feel like a sudden jolt or a tap on the line. If you feel a strike or see a sudden movement, set the hook by swiftly lifting the rod. Don’t tournament bass fisherman the thing (sorry y’all, but you set yourselves up for that one!); give it a good pullback. Another note that I should mention is treble hooks vs single inline. I’ve moved more of my lures to single hooks and have seen a difference. I might hook up a little less on a single, but when I do hook up, it is usually a very solid set, and I haven’t lost a fish. Trebles tend to hit all over and can be worked out.
Stay Aware of Water Conditions:
Keep an eye on changing water conditions, tide movements, and the behavior of birds and other wildlife. These factors can help you predict where fish might be feeding. As I said earlier: shadows, bait balls, reflections, and blow-ups are all visual clues. The more you look, the more you will start to see things in the water.
While using metal lures, be cautious of your surroundings and the potential for strong currents or waves. Safety should always be a priority in surf fishing. Getting hooked by your lure sucks (ask my buddy Justin Reed Fishing). Play it smart when in that water, too, when wearing waders. No fish is worth your life!
As with any fishing technique, practice and observation are key. Learning to read the water and adapt your methods to the conditions will increase your chances of success when using metal lures for surf fishing. Share your experience so others can learn from your success!
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