GEAR GUIDE

EIGHT CRUSTACEAN IM­I­TA­TORS DE­SIGNED TO OUTFISH THE REAL THING

Sport Fishing - - CONTENTS -

A chunk of fresh dead shrimp skew­ered to a J hook was the first bait I ever used to catch a salt­wa­ter fish. Cast­ing off a sea­wall with my dad near the Mi­ami Seaquar­ium, we caught blue run­ners, jacks, pin­fish, grunts, la­dy­fish, stingrays and snap­pers. Not the most glam­orous species, but the num­ber of dif­fer­ent fish that at­tacked our shrimp made a last­ing im­pres­sion.

While a real shrimp — dead or alive — might be the pre­ferred morsel for most oceanic crea­tures, to­day’s shrimp im­i­ta­tors raise the bar so high that I’m com­pelled to go ar­ti­fi­cial. Sure, some tough bites re­quire a lively crustacean flow­ing with the cur­rent in crys­tal-clear wa­ters, but for the ma­jor­ity of tar­get species, an­glers can eas­ily learn to work a well-de­signed shrimp lure to draw strikes.

Shrimp-lure com­pa­nies re­main tight-lipped about the de­tails of their baits, al­though they will re­veal gen­eral de­tails of in­gre­di­ents, such as polyvinyl chlo­ride (PVC) or ther­mo­plas­tic elas­tomers (TPE). They will also tell you how the baits work and why they catch fish, but I have my own es­sen­tial tech­niques af­ter fish­ing ar­ti­fi­cials for years. Shrimp ba­si­cally move in three dif­fer­ent ways: flee­ing quickly back­ward, slowly swim­ming with the cur­rent or fall­ing gen­tly to rest on the bot­tom. Make sure which­ever bait you uti­lize suc­cess­fully mim­ics one of these three nat­u­ral move­ments. Too many an­glers are lazy with their lure ac­tion or reel too quickly.

I want to im­press upon an­glers the need to ma­nip­u­late to­day’s shrimp lures ex­pertly to draw strikes from species more ef­fec­tively than any­thing I caught on my first trip in South Flor­ida. Catch­ing, buy­ing and keep­ing a dozen shrimp alive is in­con­ve­nient and lim­it­ing; in­stead, you can use the lat­est shrimp plas­tics to suc­cess­fully chase species such as bone­fish, striped bass, drum and speck­led trout.

AL­MOST ALIVE RIGGED SHRIMP

“We wanted our shrimp to im­i­tate the real thing so the bait not only ap­peals to fish­er­men, but also puts fish in the boat,” says J.W. Pen­der, op­er­a­tions man­ager of Al­most Alive Lures in North Carolina.

The Al­most Alive Shrimp comes with a molded-in hook and lead, al­low­ing the an­gler to cast the lure right out of the box. Fea­tures in­clude a life­like body, swim­merets, walk­ing legs, an­tenna, ros­trum and pro­trud­ing eyes.

“We were one of the orig­i­nal mak­ers of the first shrimp im­i­ta­tors on the mar­ket,” says Pen­der. “Top tar­get species for most North Carolina an­glers are trout, red­fish and floun­der, but snook, tar­pon and even bone­fish will bite them.” Lure con­fig­u­ra­tions, both rigged and un­rigged, are avail­able, along with dif­fer­ent weight op­tions from ¼ to 1 ounce.

BERKLEY GULP! HOL­LOW SHRIMP

Ex­pect re­con­fig­ured for­mu­las, updated ac­tive in­gre­di­ents and new pro­cess­ing in Berkley Gulp! baits this month, says John Prochnow, di­rec­tor of re­search and de­sign. “Tra­di­tional soft-plas­tic lures use polyvinyl chlo­ride, a syn­thetic plas­tic poly­mer ma­te­rial,” says Prochnow. “Berkley Gulp! is dif­fer­ent in that it’s wa­ter-based and sol­u­ble; we’re able to add com­pounds and chem­i­cals that at­tract fish. Gulp! is like a sponge, able to dif­fuse wa­ter and fish-at­tract­ing com­pounds in and out.”

The new Gulp! changes for baits such as the Hol­low Shrimp will lead to less vari­abil­ity among baits from pack­age to pack­age for a more con­sis­tent prod­uct, he says. Berkley’s Gulp! Hol­low Shrimp will al­ways be tougher than a fresh­wa­ter Gulp! worm, but now baits within a pack­age should be more uni­form.

“Berkley can now change the so­lid­ity or soft­ness of a bait based on new pro­cesses and com­bi­na­tions of ac­tive in­gre­di­ents,” he says. “Some are de­rived from nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents, while oth­ers are com­pletely syn­thetic.” Berkley makes a va­ri­ety of Gulp! shrimp im­i­ta­tors, in­clud­ing the Hol­low Shrimp (pic­tured), Man­tis Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp and orig­i­nal Shrimp.

D.O.A. SHRIMP

Mark Ni­chols, owner and in­ven­tor of D.O.A. Lures, was in­spired to cre­ate the D.O.A. Shrimp at an early age. “Mark’s dad had a shrimp boat down in Galve­ston, Texas,” says Capt. Ed Zyak,

of D.O.A Lures. “Mark spent hours on the boat han­dling shrimp. He would watch the shrimp in the big hold­ing tanks, study how they moved, and mimic what he ob­served in his lures.”

In the wa­ter, the D.O.A. Shrimp falls slowly and level, im­i­tat­ing a real shrimp head­ing for the bot­tom. “The D.O.A. Shrimp is dif­fer­ent than a lot of the shrimp-im­i­ta­tion lures on the mar­ket to­day,” says Zyak. “Many of the new lures look more re­al­is­tic than the real thing but can’t com­pare to the ac­tion of the orig­i­nal D.O.A. Shrimp.”

The D.O.A. Shrimp is made of soft plas­tic, with var­i­ous pig­ments, glit­ter, glow powder and scent, de­pend­ing on the de­sired color of the shrimp.

EGRET VUDU SHRIMP

“We wanted to build a shrimp for Gulf Coast an­glers that was dif­fer­ent than all the other brands,” says Ken Chau­mont, pres­i­dent of Egret Baits. “Some­thing re­al­is­tic and more durable than all the oth­ers.”

The Egret Vudu Shrimp is built from TPE, an ex­tremely durable and stretchy ma­te­rial used in the soles of ten­nis shoes. “It’s very tough and can be hard­ened with other poly­mers, al­low­ing for plenty of vari­a­tion,” he says.

“In shal­low wa­ter, we use a pop­ping cork with 14 to 24 inches of 35-pound fluoro­car­bon leader be­low the cork, tied di­rectly to the shrimp,” says Capt. Brian Sher­man, of Venice, Louisiana. “In the win­ter, when fish­ing in 5 to 10 feet of wa­ter, I get rid of the cork and jig the shrimp with an ir­reg­u­lar pat­tern.”

The Vudu Shrimp is a prime op­tion for speck­led trout, reds, floun­der, snook, per­mit and tar­pon. Sizes range from 2 to 4 inches, in 22 dif­fer­ent col­ors, in­clud­ing four night-glow op­tions.

LIVETARGET HY­BRID SHRIMP

Two LiveTarget of­fer­ings ef­fec­tively mimic shrimp. The Rigged Shrimp is all soft plas­tic; the aptly named Hy­brid Shrimp has a hard lure body with soft lure el­e­ments for the legs. The Rigged Shrimp comes fac­tory rigged with a

a hor­i­zon­tal fall, while the Hy­brid Shrimp (pic­tured) per­forms more like a

cast-and-re­trieve lure.

“Anatomy and col­oration be­come the core vis­ual for mak­ing a premier shrimp im­pos­tor, and LiveTarget does this part bet­ter than any man­u­fac­turer,” says Gary Aber­nethy, who han­dles mar­ket­ing for LiveTarget. “The fac­tory rig­ging that cre­ates the pris­tine pro­file re­ally al­lows the game fish to see only shrimp; the fish is not see­ing weight, hook rig­ging or any ap­pa­ra­tus at­tached to the lure.”

By us­ing fac­tory-rigged hooks, LiveTarget is able to en­sure the hook place­ment is per­fectly aligned for nat­u­ral lure ac­tion. Color pat­terns rep­re­sent com­mon brown-and-white shrimp.

“The thing about cre­at­ing a shrimp lure is that vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing in­shore loves a shrimp,” says Aber­nethy. “So if it swims, you have a great chance to catch it.”

SAV­AGE GEAR TPE SHRIMP

“The prin­ci­ple be­hind the Sav­age Gear TPE Shrimp was to cre­ate the most re­al­is­tic, life­like shrimp bait pos­si­ble, with ac­tion and move­ment that en­tice finicky fish to bite,” says Dave Brown, se­nior mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist for Sav­age Gear Lures.

The lure’s ac­tion fea­tures very sub­tle move­ments in an up-and­down jig­ging mo­tion, with secondary mi­cro­move­ment from each of the in­di­vid­ual legs and an­ten­nae. A full 3D scan of an ac­tual shrimp was used to cre­ate the TPE bait, which fea­tures

a mesh-in­fused body for dura­bil­ity against toothy crea­tures.

Top species tar­gets in­clude snook, red­fish, tar­pon and sheepshead.

Sav­age Gear also pro­duces a 3D Hy­brid Shrimp, pre-rigged with a sin­gle tre­ble held in a mag­netic slot and de­signed to swim back­ward.

STORM 360GT COASTAL SHRIMP

Brand-new from this sum­mer’s fish­ing­tackle trade show, ICAST, the Coastal Shrimp is part of Storm’s 360GT Coastal se­ries. To cre­ate the se­ries, Storm fo­cused on mak­ing lures an­glers can pur­chase with all the hooks and rig­ging in one pack­age. An­glers don’t have to fig­ure out which shrimp, hook or jig head to in­cor­po­rate.

“The Shrimp soft bait was de­signed with a solid head, belly slot and back slot strate­gi­cally placed for easy rig­ging,” says Dan Quinn,

field pro­mo­tions man­ager at Storm. “Pre­mium ph­tha­late-free plas­tic pro­vides a bal­ance of ac­tion and dura­bil­ity, plus we of­fer a wide range of nat­u­ral and at­trac­tive col­ors.” (Ph­tha­lates chem­i­cally soften plas­tics and can be dan­ger­ous to hu­mans.)

Fea­tures in­clude a seg­mented body with re­al­is­tic legs and tail; the baits come in 12 dif­fer­ent col­ors. Each pack­age con­tains one rigged body and three ad­di­tional bod­ies.

“The jig head [rig], with a 60-de­gree line tie, is de­signed to fish with a lift­drop tech­nique or by slowly swim­ming it,” says Quinn. “The weighted swim­bait hook is the choice for a weed­less pre­sen­ta­tion or when a slower re­trieve speed is re­quired.”

Z-MAN EZ SHRIMPZ

Z-Man seems to have thought of ev­ery­thing when de­sign­ing the EZ ShrimpZ.

“The EZ ShrimpZ was cre­ated to sink slowly and in a hor­i­zon­tal po­si­tion, just like a real shrimp set­tling to the bot­tom,” says Daniel Nuss­baum, pres­i­dent of Z-Man Fish­ing Prod­ucts. “We put a lot of ef­fort into bal­ance, pos­ture and sink rate by cou­pling a prop­erly po­si­tioned keel weight with our nat­u­rally buoy­ant ElaZtech ma­te­rial.”

Z-Man added sev­eral notches in the tail for ad­di­tional move­ment in the wa­ter. Thin an­ten­nae pro­vide less wind re­sis­tance when cast­ing, but also quiver and vi­brate with min­i­mal wa­ter move­ment.

“Be­cause the keel weight is po­si­tioned un­der the shrimp’s belly, the bait it­self wants to float upright. The EZ ShrimpZ won’t roll over on its side like most shrimp made from tra­di­tional soft plas­tics,” says Nuss­baum.

The EZ ShrimpZ is avail­able stand-alone or pre-rigged. The ba­sic ver­sion rigs for­ward or back­ward on a jig head, or weed­less on a weighted swim­bait hook. With a pre-rigged bait, the weight on the hook is notched so it can be trimmed for a slower sink rate in shal­low ar­eas. Com­mon game­fish tar­gets in­clude seatrout, red­fish, floun­der and snook.

SERVE UP A SHRIMP: Try shrimp plucked from the peg­board, not the livewell. Lon­glast­ing ar­ti­fi­cials trick many species, such as black drum.

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