Soft plastic lures are great redfish baits, whether fished under a popping cork or on their own. While they are effective year-round, they can be especially effective during the cold-weather months when not a whole lot of baitfish are in the area. But one trick that many anglers don’t think about can make these lures even more deadly.
Overwhelmingly, soft plastic lures like the Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Jerk Shad, the MirrOlure Provoker, and the new Egret Baits Wedgetail EEL are all fished on a jighead. This is actually the way the lures are designed to be fished, and there’s no question that as a general rule, it’s the best way to fish them.
This time of year though, when the water is chilly and the fish aren’t as willing to eat as they are during warmer months, sometimes they will hit a lure that falls and moves at a much slower pace than is possible when fished with a jighead.
The secret, according to Norman Cochrane of Murrells Inlet, is to forego the jighead altogether and instead, hook the lure through the very tip of the nose with an unweighted 3/0 hook.
“I really like this method when I find the big schools of redfish. They are pretty cautious, and they are also easy to spook. Throwing a weighted lure in front of them will sometimes send them scattering, and make them even more cautious,” said Cochrane.
And even when they don’t spook, the weight of a regular soft plastic lure on a jighead sometimes does little to entice a bite.
“When the water is crystal clear, you’ll see that school of fish, toss the lure a couple of feet in front, and you’ll see it plain as day. There’s no doubt the fish see it too, but that lure just drops straight down. I think it just doesn’t look very natural to them, or it just drops faster than they are willing to chase it,” he said.
With an unweighted hook though, Cochrane said it’s a different story.
“That lure drops down softly, then sinks ever so slowly. You can see the redfish licking their chops. That slow drop is just so enticing to them. I really love it when the water is so clear you can watch the lure fall and watch how the fish react. With the unweighted lure, the fish will almost always hit it as soon as it’s on the same level in the water with them, or just before it touches bottom,” he said.