Opinions  —  Lots of opinions when I looked at this topic and all Captains and fishermen claimed and told me lures do work.   Fish are fish and their DNA,  emory and environment denotes their likes and dislikes.   With proper stimulus they will strike if they are motivated and preditorial vs the browsers and bottom feeders.  This hold true for fresh and saltwater   fishing.

With that said there is a difference in the “ Strength test”…. First though, we must understand,  as it was brought forth salt water lures must be a tad stronger and not affected by the salt environment or construction.  But whereas fresh water has generally specific fish with specific tackle and methodology, salt water fishing is full of surprises… 

Take spinnerbaits for example.  Many freshwater spinnerbaits integrate wire molded directly into the head; that’s a weak point in salt water. To counter, most salty spinnerbaits use thicker-gauge  ( 35 and 51) wire and connected a snap clip sometimes with a swivel to a jig-head eye.   Still, all high-caliber saltwater spinnerbaits are designed to withstand large predators such as redfish.  Sometimes , the fun of saltwater is you never know whats on the line, only experienced fisherman geared to the game have that kind of prowess.  The way the fish fights tells the Captain a lot.

PROFILE:  Captain Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles can do so HERE on his page.   These are the products and equipment that he uses to catch fish every day.  He created this Fishing Lido Key products page so that anglers who are interested in purchasing the rods, reels, and lures that he uses can find everything in one location. And Amazon does a good job.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”  

Categories — Saltwater Lures Are Similar To Freshwater On A Greater Scale



  These six lure types are very versatile and will cover every situation than a saltwater angler will encounter. They will also catch every species that will take a lure.  

—  Anglers are often surprised to find that lures commonly out fish live bait. While live bait is effective when fish are hungry, lures have other advantages. They will trigger reaction strikes from fish that are perhaps not feeding but can’t resist the chance for an easy meal. 

—  Artificial lures also allow anglers to cover a lot more water than those fishing with live bait. Finally, there is a convenience factor of not having to purchase, catch, and keep bait alive.

1)  Saltwater Fishing With The Jig and Grub Combo

—  The jig and grub combination is arguably the most popular saltwater fishing lure. It is #1 on Capt Jim’s list of the top 6 saltwater fishing lures. It is economical, versatile, and will produce anywhere on the planet. This lure basically consists of a hook with a lead head molded into it near the eye. This weight at the front causes the lure to hop and fall in a jigging fashion. That is how the lure got its name. Jig heads come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. However, they all work the same.

—  The jig head is chosen based on the conditions the angler is facing. Depth of the water, speed of the current, and size of the forage are the primary considerations. Anglers fishing in water shallower than 10 feet deep will find a quarter ounce jig to be a good all-around size. Anglers fishing in deeper water and in current will need to bump up the jig head size accordingly.

—  Some type of soft plastic grub body is added to the jig head. These tails come in a myriad of styles, sizes, and colors. The goal is for the grub body to match the forage. The most popular tail shapes are shrimp tails, shad tails, and curly tails. All three designs are effective, however the latter two have more built in action. A 1/4 ounce jig head with a 4 inch shad tail body is a great all round saltwater fishing lure. However, it is not uncommon for anglers seeking large fish such as striped bass to go much larger.

—  Jigs are economical and versatile.  Versatility is one of the key components to the popularity of the jig and grub combo. They can be retrieved in a variety of ways throughout the entire water column. A jig with a shrimp tail can be bounced off the bottom, imitating a shrimp or crab. 

—  Jigs with a bait style tail can be retrieve steadily through the water. They can be cast to fish that are breaking on the surface and worked quickly. Trolling with these lures can be quite productive.

The most common and productive retrieve for most anglers is the “jig and fall”retrieve. The lure is cast out and allowed to sink several seconds. The rod tip is then jerked sharply upwards, causing the lure to shoot up through the water column. With the rod tip held high, the retrieve is paused, allowing the lure to flutter helplessly through the water. Most strikes occur on the fall as the jig resembles a helpless or wounded bait fish.

—  The jig and grub combo is a fantastic lure for anglers targeting breaking fish. These are fish that are actively feeding on the surface such as bluefish, striped bass, and Spanish mackerel. As long as the grub remotely resembles the size of the forage, they will usually draw a strike. The jig and grub is also very effective when trolled. Striped bass in particular fall prey to a shad tail jig trolled along a channel edge. Anglers can scroll down to read more about fishing with jigs.

—  Captain Jim’s preferred saltwater soft plastic artificial lure is the Bass Assassin 4″ Sea Shad.  It comes in a huge variety of colors and has an excellent swimming action in the water. His favorite colors are Glow/chartreuse, New Penny, and Red/gold shiner, but ever angler wil have her or her personal favorite baits.

2)  Bucktail Jigs

—  Bucktail jigs are extremely productive for anglers fishing saltwater. In fact, they are one of the first saltwater fishing lures. White is a most popular color. They are very effective and are fished in the same manner as the jig and grub combo. As with the jig and grub, sizes determined by the water being fished and the available forage. 

—  Anglers can combine the two and add a soft plastic tail to add even more action. This is deadly on striped bass. There are a couple of factors that put them slightly behind the jig and grub.

—  Bucktail jigs are a bit more expensive and less versatile than the jig and grub combo. Anglers catching toothy species such as mackerel and bluefish can spend a lot of money quickly as these fish will tear up a buck tail jig. Plastic grub tails are inexpensive and easily replaced. Also, bucktail jigs are less versatile. 

—  While it is very easy to change the color or shape of a plastic tailed lure, this is not the case with bucktail. However, bucktail and synthetic hair jigs have great action and the water and you catch a lot of fish. They are #2 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.

Capt Jim’s preferred saltwater buck tail jig is manufactured by Spro. These are high quality lures that are as durable as a buck tail jig can be.

3)  Gulp! Baits

While they may seem to just be another soft plastic bait, that is not the case. The Gulp line of baits are extremely productive. They have a built-in scent that makes fishing them almost like using live bait. In Florida, the 3 inch Gulp Shrimp is a deadly bait on the shallow grass flats. Anglers all over the country use them with success. As with all lures, the key is to match the color and size of the bait to the available forage.

Anglers fishing shallow water can fish the Gulp Shrimp under a cork. This is an extremely productive technique for speckled trout and redfish on the grass flats between 2 feet deep and 6 feet deep. The cork makes a pop or rattle which attracts game fish. When fish come to investigate, they see the shrimp below the cork and eat it. Most anglers fish the Gulp Shrimp on a jig head, just as they would with any soft plastic bait. This certainly is the best approach in deeper water.

The 5″ Gulp Jerk Shad is a very versatile bait. It is effective on the deep flats and tends to catch larger trout and other species. It is also very productive for anglers fishing shallow for snook, reds, and jacks. It also works great when fishing docks. They can be worked shallow on a swimbait hook or deeper on a jig head. Gulp! baits are #3 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.

4)  Shallow Diving Plugs Are Effective Saltwater Fishing Lures

These lures are extremely effective for anglers saltwater fishing. They imitate bait fish. Plugs vibrate and wobble, mimicking a wounded or injured bait. This triggers the natural instinct and fish to attack. Rapala X-Raps and Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows are examples of popular shallow diving plugs. Some anglers refer to these as twitch baits or jerk baits due to their action and the water. They are #4 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.

Shallow diving plugs can be cast or trolled effectively. Anglers working shoreline cover or casting open flats catch a variety of species. The best retrieve is generally an erratic one. The lure will float on the surface at rest, then dive down when retrieved. Several cranks of the reel handle followed by a twitch and a pause is a very effective retrieve. At other times a steady retrieve, either slow or quite fast, will produce. Once again, it is important to match the size and color of the lure to the bait fish that are prevalent in the area. Local tackle shops will have a good selection of baits that work well in their local waters.

These plugs really come into their own when fish are working on the surface. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, stripers, false albacore, and other species will devour them.  Plugs come in many sizes and colors, making it easy to “match the hatch”.

Capt Jim’s favorite plug is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. He prefers the 08 size when fish are feeding on smaller bait and the 10 size when larger forage is present. White and olive are his top colors.

5)  Spoons Are Effective Saltwater Fishing Lures

Spoons are a very simple looking artificial lure, yet one of the most productive. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. Spoons resemble a wounded bait fish. Metallic finishes such as silver, copper, brass, and gold are popular. Spoons can also be painted or have reflective material on them. Casting and trolling both produce a lot a fish. They are #5 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.

Spoons cast a long way. They are relatively heavy and aerodynamic. 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce spoons are very popular as they mimic small shiny fish such as sardines. The spoon is cast out, allowed to sink, then worked back using either a steady or erratic retrieve. As with all lure fishing, it is best to experiment with retrieves until a productive pattern emerges.

Anglers fishing very shallow water do well with a weedless spoon. The Johnson Silver Minnow is an example of this. It is an established lure that has been around for decades, starting out in freshwater for anglers targeting largemouth bass. The weedless spoon is a staple of flats anglers in the south targeting redfish on shallow grass flats. It has a single hook that rides up, resulting in less snags on the bottom.

Capt Jim’s favorite casting spoons are the Johnson Sprite and Johnson Silver Minnow. The Sprite is an open water spoon with a treble hook while the Silver Minnow is weedless.  Note:Swivels required when fishing with spoons

Anglers using spoons will need to use some type of swivel.  Spoon will spin in the water, causing line twist. There are two options when choosing a swivel. Anglers can tie a barrel swivel onto the end of the running line, then use a short section of leader between the spoon and the other end of the swivel. Another option is the snap swivel right at the lure. This allows for easy changing of the spoon. Either method will work fine in eliminate line twist.

Spoons can also be used for vertical jigging. The Hopkins Jigging Spoon is an example of this lure. This is an extremely effective technique when fish are schooled up in deep water over structure such as a wreck or a channel edge. Just about any game fish can be caught on these lures.

6)  Trolling Spoons

There is a special type of spoon designed specifically for trolling. These are long and slender and have a very tight wobble, allowing anglers to troll at speeds approaching 10 knots. They are extremely productive for striped bass, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, bluefish, and other species.

Trolling spoons generally need some type of device to get them down in the water column. The three methods used most often are downriggers, trolling weights, and planers. All three methods work and have their advantages and disadvantages.

Trolling sinkers are the easiest method to get a spoon down in the water column. The specially designed sinker is tied to the running line and then a leader is used between the sinker and the spoon. Leader lengths vary, but are generally fairly long, around 20 feet. As the angler reels the fish in, they must stop when the sinker hits the rod tip and the fishes in hand lined in the rest of the way.

7)  Fly Fishing