I have a good friend in South Florida that has been tearing up everything from small tarpon, snook, redfish as well as largemouth bass. His biggest complaint with the lures was the inadequate treble hooks, which would bend very easily under any type of pressure. This seems to be a recurring theme among many of the hard body style lures. I get it - better hooks means more cost, but I think eventually fishermen will move onto another product that doesn’t require modifying hooks to make it work. Many times adding stronger hooks will ruin the action of a lure. That topic is for another article, at another time. Today I want to look back at some of the “crossover” lures I’ve used in the past.
Slayer Inc. spinnerbait
When I hear the word “spinnerbait” I immediately think of freshwater fishing on the front of a bass boat. Long ago I never would have thought I would use these types of lures in saltwater, but I have and in certain situations they are killer. I mainly use these lures in very stained and dirty water. Two places instantly come to mind: Cedar Key and Chokoloskee, both on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The water at both places is very stained from the large amount of fresh water dumping in from local rivers. The added vibration and flash helps attract fish to the lure, where they might not have been able to locate similarly rigged plastic baits. In this situation, I prefer a little heavier rod action, but not enough that I can’t feel the vibration of the blade.
Culprit 8" curly tail worm
I’ve used bass worms for redfish here in Tampa Bay since I was a kid. Our favorite was an 8” twin curly tail worm, which we would pinch off the front 4”, leaving just a bit of the body but all of the twin curly tails. Rigged on a red jig head, we would bounced this through sand holes and along oyster bar edges. With the twin tail sticking up, it would resemble a small crab in a defensive posture. The redfish couldn’t get enough of them. Those worms are hard to find these days, but one worm I have good success with is a Culprit 8” curly tail worm, in a “motor oil” color. I do the same thing as I did as a kid - pinch off the front 4” and rig on 1/8 or 1/16 oz. jig head. I prefer both styles of jig heads offered by Slayer Inc. Working these along the bottom of sand holes can produce some wicked numbers, especially in the winter when I best like to use this setup. The reasons are two fold; less grass, and cleaner water for sight fishing. One drawback that I have encountered is sometimes the worms have a real heavy plastic smell to them. This can be cured by applying your favorite scent into the bag, or onto the lure.
I was first introduced to the Horny Toad during a tournament called “The One Lure Challenge” many years ago. All the competitors had to use a Pearl White Horny Toad all day. I thought to myself, “No way is anyone gonna catch anything with that.” Designed to take anglers out of their comfort zones, the “OLCs” as we came to know them would test an angler’s imagination and skill in order to be successful. This tournament was one of the best we ever had. The Horny Toad was a winner, and it was a snook magnet. They loved it. Fished on the surface, it acts as a topwater lure, the back legs kicking up water. Popped in this fashion, it created quite a commotion. Slowed down and jigged, it could be used as a subsurface lure. Letting it sink to the bottom, it can be slowly bounced through the grass. My favorite time of year for this lure is summer time, right after the snook spawn. The grass is thick on the flats, and there is a lot of floating grass that makes a conventional topwater lure a pain to use. Finding holes in the grass, the Horny Toad can be worked along the surface and then “dropped” into those opening or holes in the grass. Many times there is a snook just waiting in those holes - waiting on ol’ Mr. Horny Toad.
These are just a few of my favorites. I would like to hear from our readers on any “crossover” lures that they have found that work well in the saltwater, and how they may rig and use them.