Saltwater anglers up and down the South Carolina coast know how to deal with poor visibility. Stained inshore water is the norm most of the year, so if not using bait, your lure of choice needs to have something that will help the fish find it, like a heartbeat or a fish-attracting odor, but when the temperature drops, the water clears and the game changes.
Improved visibility in winter greatly increases the options available to anglers, and bait or heavily scented plastics are no longer a must, especially when sight-casting. Action, size and color in lure selection become much more important than just scent or flavor.
Fishing with artificials in saltwater has gained in popularity over the past few years. Tackle manufacturers have been quick to try and cash in on the increased demand for artificial lures and are constantly introducing better and more varied options. One manufacturer making a big stir in the new lure department is Egret Baits in Many, La. , with its Vudu Shrimp.
Originally, the Vudu Shrimp was meant to be a speckled trout lure, but soon after its release, anglers found out it was deadly on redfish, and its popularity exploded. Company officials said they sold 5,000 bags of Vudu Shrimp in January; by the end of 2013, they were selling 50,000 units every two weeks.
The secret behind the success of the Vudu Shrimp is in the material from which it is made. Most soft-plastic lures are made with PVC plastic, but the Vudu Shrimp is made with TPE plastic, which is stronger and more breathable. Also, the Vudu has strong, nylon threads sewn in throughout the baits. Company spokesman Jamie Burnett said, “The nylon thread makes the lure so strong, one pack will catch 50 or more fish.”
One company that is no stranger to the world of artificial lures is D.O.A., which recently introduced a new C.A.L series of soft plastic called the Airhead. What sets the Airhead minnow apart from other D.O.A lures is a beefier shape and tail that are a better match for baitfish. Also, the Airhead sinks very slowly, allowing for a natural presentation. Capt.John Irwin of Fly Right Charters in Charleston said, “An unweighted airhead almost suspends, and that’s what you want.”
The reason suspending type lures work so well is, reds often stay suspended in the water column in the colder months, even if the water they are in is only a foot or two deep. This is especially true on those nice winter days when the wind is low and the sun is shining.
“When the weather is calm and the reds are bunched up high in the water column, I like to throw it without any weight, let it sink just a bit, and give it a twitch; that’s usually all it takes,” said Irwin, who fishes the lure on a heavy wire, 5/0 Airhead hook and prefers the bloodworm color.
Unlike the Vudu Shrimp, the Airhead does have scent for an added fish-catching dimension, so when dealing with deteriorating or less-than-ideal conditions, it is a good choice as well.
“If the wind is on the water or the fish are holding deeper I will add half of a pinch weight to the hook shank so it can get down to where the fish are at,” Irwin said.
Of course, these are just two new lures that work, but there are many others that also work very well. New lures are constantly being developed and marketed to saltwater anglers up and down the South Carolina coast. A trip to any tackle shop will yield a dizzying number of options. There is no better time to test out new lures in hopes of finding the next big thing than in the clear waters of winter when both lure and fish are visible.