Whether you decide to fish the flats in Florida for spotted seatrout or troll the offshore waters of California for bluefin tuna, these saltwater fishing lures are an important part of every ocean angler's tackle collection.
TYPES OF SALTWATER FISHING PLUGS
Made primarily from either wood or molded plastic, these saltwater lures look and act like a baitfish when moving through the water. Certain types of saltwater plugs have plastic or metal lips that allow you to use them at different depths in the water column depending on the size and shape of the lip. Other types of fishing plugs have rattles on the inside to attract fish from a distance or in cloudy water conditions. Plug lures are made using corrosion-resistant materials that can hold up to the saltwater marine environment and range in sizes from just a few inches to over a foot.
Topwater plugs are a favorite of many saltwater inshore or flats anglers due to the fact that they are worked on the surface of the water, making any strike from a fish visible. These saltwater fishing plugs are also commonly referred to as "walk the dog" style fishing lures because they are "walked" on the top of the water using a back and forth twitching motion of your fishing rod as opposed to being reeled in beneath the surface. Topwater plugs usually have a hollow body with a set of treble hooks on each end of the lure.
Once you learn about the specific type of baitfish that your target species prefers to prey upon, you can choose a minnow-imitating plug that closely matches its appearance. Minnow-imitating lures are created to look like marine baitfish such as anchovies, herring, mullet or pinfish. Minnow-imitating plugs come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Dark colors are often used in dim light conditions or at night, while light colors in sunny conditions.
SHALLOW-DIVING INSHORE FISHING PLUGS
Suspending twitchbaits and jerkbaits fit into the category of shallow-diving inshore fishing plugs. If you plan to pursue saltwater inshore species such as snook, redfish (red drum), spotted seatrout, or tarpon, these types of flashy lures tend to work well. Some of these lures work best when retrieved slowly, while others should be retrieved quickly using an erratic darting motion. Part of the fun of fishing plugs is discovering which type of retrieve will bring on a bite.
DEEP-DIVING OFFSHORE FISHING PLUGS
Diving offshore fishing plugs are used when trolling in deep water for species such as king mackerel, tuna, grouper, dolphinfish (mahi mahi), and wahoo. Many of these offshore plugs are reflective holographic hardbaits with large plastic lips that enable them to reach depths of 20 or 40 feet. They are usually made with heavy-duty steel hooks and that can hold up to aggressive strikes from large saltwater game fish.
Learn more about saltwater tackle and knots in our next section.