Most saltwater fishermen have an array of soft plastics, jigheads, topwater plugs and floating- or popping-cork rigs in their tackle boxes, but often, one of the most-important and productive lures is missing: weedless spoons.

“Any fisherman who doesn’t have some weedless spoons in his tackle box is missing out on key lures,” said Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures in Sneads Ferry. “I carry gold and black weedless spoons in the ¼- and ½-ounce sizes and constantly use them as go-to lures. I know a lot of fishermen overlook them because they look so simple, but I won’t leave home without them.

“Like many other fishermen, I first started using them for puppy drum in areas where other lures would stay hung up, but I’ve caught speckled trout, gray trout, flounder and more with them.” 

Jernigan doesn’t hesitate to use both colors at the same time. He feels like the gold spoons might be a little better over darker bottoms, just because they show up better. Similarly, the black spoons might be a little better on light colored or sandy bottoms. However, he emphasizes he has caught drum, trout and flounder while fishing both colors regardless of the bottom color or structure.

Jernigan said water clarity is the real factor that determines his color choice, even though he still might try both colors for a few casts to be sure. Jernigan feels black is a little better in clear water because they don’t sign too much and spoon fish. Gold spoons have more flash, and he uses them when the water is dirtier.

“I prefer to throw the ¼-ounce spoon unless it is really windy,” Jernigan said. “It is smaller, and I’ve found that fish will break their patterns to eat smaller baits far quicker than they will for larger baits. I believe they think the smaller bait is easier to catch, especially if it is moving erratically. However, when the wind is blowing very stiff, which it often is during the afternoon, I switch up to the ½-ounce spoon to add a little more weight to help punch through the wind, especially when we have to cast directly into it.” 

Jernigan prefers the ½-ounce spoon when fishing oyster beds. It is a little wider as well as longer and doesn’t fall between oysters and get hung us as much as the smaller spoon.

“I fish spoons on outfits loaded with 10- and 15-pound braided line,” Jernigan said. “The smaller-diameter line deflects less in wind and current and makes it easier to control the lure. It also doesn’t have any stretch, so I can work the spoon over things without it hanging up a little and then jumping too far like with mono. I use an 18- to 24-inch piece of 25-pound test fluorocarbon for a leader, and this disappears in the water so it separates the spoon from the braided line.”

Jernigan, who ties the leader directly to the eye on the spoon, said one of the keys to being successful with spoons is to learn to fish them slowly enough they don’t spin, but wobble from side-to-side. This doesn’t put any twist into the line, and is the action that makes weedless spoons most appealing to fish. 

The most-productive retrieves for Jernigan has been one just fast enough to keep the bait off the bottom, but slow enough to bump occasionally.