FLASH AND DASH

VER­SA­TILE AND TIME­LESS SPOONS GET THE JOB DONE THESE POPULAR LURES CON­TINUE TO EN­TICE FISH IN­SHORE AND OFF.

Saltwater Sportsman - - Float Plan / New Electronics - BY SID DO­BRIN

As a kid, I was shore-bound, so if I couldn’t cast to a fish from the beach or by wad­ing, I wasn’t go­ing to catch it.

But that lim­i­ta­tion didn’t de­ter me, and I spent much of my child­hood and teenage years pa­trolling mid-at­lantic beaches and estuaries, look­ing for blue­fish, red drum, trout, floun­der, and other fun and ex­cit­ing species.

The tackle in­dus­try hadn’t yet erupted back then, and only a sam­pling of spoons and buck­tails pop­u­lated my ele­men­tary tackle box. But my grand­fa­ther al­ways told me all a salt­wa­ter an­gler re­ally needs to catch fish any­where in the world is a spoon. He ex­plained that spoons are fun­da­men­tal ar­ti­fi­cials that ev­ery an­gler needs to have on hand and learn to use. And many years after his pass­ing, those words of wis­dom still ring true.

As I grew older and my angling ex­pe­ri­ence ex­panded, so did my tackle arse­nal. But you’ll al­ways find a va­ri­ety of spoons in my box, be­cause ev­ery task is eas­ier when you have the right tool.

CAST­ING SPOONS

The pop­u­lar­ity of cast­ing spoons is al­most uni­ver­sal. Of course, the keys to suc­cess are learn­ing the proper spoon size and weight to mimic the preva­lent bait­fish and achieve the nec­es­sary cast­ing dis­tance, and to use the right retrieval speeds for the dif­fer­ent lure weights and shapes.

Decades ago, an­glers didn’t have the vari­a­tions we now see, so we re­lied on Krocodiles, Kast­mas­ters and Clark­spoons to fish East Coast beaches, in­lets and tidal wa­ters. We learned which

mod­els swam fast and which swam slowly, which ran deep and which flut­tered just be­low the sur­face, and used the ones best suited for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.

A LURE FOR ALL SEA­SONS

Cast­ing spoons are an in­shore an­gler’s bread and but­ter be­cause few other ar­ti­fi­cials of­fer the casta­bil­ity, flash and built-in ac­tion that ap­peal to nu­mer­ous species in a range of sit­u­a­tions.

In the spring, when it’s time to wade in­lets and estuaries, smaller cast­ing spoons with deep con­cave bod­ies — that won’t fall fast and snag on the bot­tom, but rather dance en­tic­ingly as they sink slowly — are just the ticket. Thin­ner spoons, such as the John­son Sprite (or the weed­less John­son Silver Min­now, if fish­ing over grass or oys­ters), that sus­pend, trem­ble and sparkle above the es­tu­ar­ine grass, mim­ick­ing pin­fish and other small for­age fish, are tai­lor-made for at­tract­ing speck­led trout and floun­der.

Later on, when thick schools of men­haden run close to shore, dark­en­ing the wa­ter, Krocodiles and sim­i­lar spoons that wob­ble and flash the most should get the nod. We caught many blue­fish by crank­ing those “Krocs” at a mod­er­ate speed within the chaos of bunkers un­der at­tack. Their highly re­flec­tive, pol­ished chrome fin­ish and se­duc­tive swim­ming ac­tion high in the wa­ter col­umn are a killer com­bi­na­tion.

In the dog days of sum­mer, when wa­ter tem­per­a­tures so ar and the af­ter­noon breeze kicks up ac hop, span­ish mack­erel­be­comea top tar­get. Then, the smaller, sleek-bod­ied Kast­mas­ters or Clark­spoons pro­duce more strikes from these ag­gres­sive preda­tors. Un­like Krocodiles, the nar­rower spoons pro­duce a tight quiver that sug­gests the smaller, more ner­vous bait­fish that mack­erel can’t re­sist.

And in au­tumn, once the wa­ter be­gins to cool down and big red drum or fast­mov­ing false al­ba­core come within range, heav­ier, wider spoons that sink deeper and present a broader pro­file ought to be called into ac­tion.

TROLLING SPOONS

Once I fi­nally grad­u­ated from shore-fish­ing to drag­ging baits be­hind a boat, I soon turned to the trolling spoon, the clas­sic L.B. Hunt­ing­ton Drone spoon, to be pre­cise.

From the 4½-inch down to the 1½-inch, I found the Drone ex­tremely ef­fec­tive for Span­ish mack­erel, king­fish, black­fin tuna, wa­hoo, and even dol­phin. A sim­i­lar sin­gle-hook trolling-spoon de­sign, the Re­flecto, has also proven its worth over the years. In fact, dur­ing a re­cent trip to the Mid­dle Grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, both spoons put tuna and wa­hoo on deck, while my com­pan­ions’ big-lipped, hard-bod­ied lures went un­touched.

And while an­glers from Hawaii to Cal­i­for­nia, the South At­lantic and the Caribbean count on trolling spoons to catch pelag­ics off­shore and nearshore, those same lures are also re­spon­si­ble for plenty of big blue­fish and stripers in in­shore wa­ters along the North­east coast.

Like their cast­ing coun­ter­parts, trolling spoons now come in many col­ors, shapes and sizes, but un­der­stand­ing the proper speed and depth ad­just­ments (some­times re­quir­ing the use of trolling sinkers or plan­ers ahead of the lure) nec­es­sary to catch dif­fer­ent game re­mains es­sen­tial.

SPE­CIALTY SPOONS

But spoon de­signs of both the cast­ing and trolling va­ri­eties also in­clude some made for spe­cific needs and niche ap­proaches. Back in my days of surf-cast­ing for blue­fish, for ex­am­ple, the Hop­kins Shorty and NO=EQL spoons were seen as spe­cialty lures you tied on dur­ing a blue­fish blitz. Their bod­ies are a de­riv­a­tive of tra­di­tional cast­ing irons and jigs. Their sub­stan­tial thick­ness and heft for the rel­a­tively slen­der shape en­able the long casts, quick drops and fast retrieval speeds needed to reach swift-mov­ing fish that of­ten run deep. To this day, the very name Hop­kins res­onates syn­ony­mously with blue­fish for me.

Tony Maja’s bunker spoon de­signs are an­other im­por­tant in­no­va­tion. These wide, pear-shaped spoons cre­ated specif­i­cally for striped bass fish­ing in the North­east re­main re­gional fa­vorites. Hy­brid spoons that blend el­e­ments of spoons with crankbaits cre­ate new kinds of trolling spoons that are gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity with off­shore and nearshore an­glers.

AC­CES­SORIZ­ING

Over time, in­shore an­glers have found that in­te­grat­ing spoons with var­i­ous at­trac­tors of­ten im­proves the over­all ef­fec­tive­ness of the lure. In­shore, the ad­di­tion of a buck­tail or soft-pas­tic trailer fre­quently ac­counts for more red­fish, trout, snook, stripers or blue­fish.

Like­wise, the ad­di­tion of a short length of sur­gi­cal tub­ing in neon green, red, it to en­dure re­peated at­tacks from toothy species.

Mod­i­fi­ca­tions or not, spoons will con­tinue to catch fish in­shore, off­shore and in be­tween. As my grand­fa­ther used to say, ev­ery salt­wa­ter an­gler should al­ways have some and know how to use them.

2 3 SWIVEL 1 ALBRIGHT KNOT 4 25 FEET OF MONO LEADER ner pla

GOTCHA: Spoons prove ef­fec­tive on a va­ri­ety of in­shore and off­shore species.

LUHR-JENSEN KROCODILE

TONY MAJA BUNKER

HOP­KINS SHORTY

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