Saltwater bait types can be tricky to catch. Some species require specific equipment and bait, while others will grab whatever is offered to them. Some baits are universally appealing to nearly all species of fish. Baits are also inexpensive and simple to use. Baits for saltwater fishing can be divided into three categories: live bait, dead bait, and artificial bait. Here is a brief overview of each.
Best Baits for Saltwater Fishing
1. Cigar Minnows
They are great for trolling sailfish and barracuda as well as king mackerel and bonito. Typically, cigar minnows are six to nine inches long but can grow up to twelve inches, sometimes. When chasing snapper and grouper, area fishermen also use dead cigar minnows.
2. Sand Fleas
Sand fleas are popular baits for saltwater fishing. They can be used to catch pompano, redfish, croakers, and many other species.
Shrimp is a favorite of almost every saltwater fish. Live shrimp can be used to bottom-fish and will swim with the tide. Some people remove the shrimp’s head and tail to make dead bait. They then use the shrimp meat. redfish, cobia, and bonefish, among others, love shrimp.
Mullets are simple to catch and keep alive with a net. Mullets make great bait, especially for bottom fishing. For tarpon, striped bass, sharks, and other species, anglers prefer larger mullet offshore. For most species inshore, such as the gulf’s redfish, smaller-sized finger mullet is ideal. Mullet can also be frozen to catch much other fish.
Blue crabs are prized prey for predators such as tarpon, snapper, and grouper. These crabs are versatile and can be used both inshore and offshore.
Ballyhoo is used by charter boat fishermen as cut bait, and to trot offshore. And it is great for many of the Gulf’s big-game fish like tuna, sailfish, and dolphins. Bait and tackle shops sell trolling rigs specifically made for ballyhoo.
Squid is one of the most popular saltwater baits. It is used by anglers across the country to lure a variety of fish species. The whole squid is hard to resist for striped bass, bluefish, and redfish. Other fishermen use frozen squid cut into long strips to catch tuna and sharks, as well as mackerel, kingfish, and many other fish species.
Menhaden (A.K.A. Peanut Porgy) is a good choice when in live form. You can either cut it into pieces or use it as a chum. Bluefish, striped bass, and large fluke are all targets for east coast fishermen. Menhaden in chunks are a popular catch for gulf fish like redfish, cobia, and amberjacks.
1. The Jig and Grub Combo
Combining jigs and grubs is versatile, cost-effective, and produces excellent results almost anywhere. It is made up of a lead head and a hook that has been molded into the top. The lure’s weight causes it to jump and then fall in a jigging fashion (hence the name). There are many sizes, shapes, and colors available for jig heads that will suit any situation.
2. Bucktail Jigs
Bucktails are similar to the Jig & Grub Combo. The head is small and painted with a molded-in hook. The hook is disguised by attached deer hair that flows behind the head. Bucktail lures are available in many colors and weights to match the most common sinkers. Bucktails can be used in combination with braided or short leaders. They replace the traditional hook and sinker. Straight bucktails provide excellent feedback.
3. Gulp Baits
These soft plastic baits have a strong scent that many people love. You can buy these baits in sporting goods shops, bait shops, and online. The 3-inch gulp shrimp is a popular choice for fishermen in Florida. You can use these on shallow grass flats and had great success. Gulp baits are available in a variety of colors and more than one hundred designs that mimic mullets and peeler crabs.
4. Shallow Diving Plugs
These shallow diving plugs are usually made of molded or hollow plastic and can look like many kinds of bait fish as well as mice, insects, and frogs. They vibrate and wobble in the water because of their shape. To other fish, shallow diving plugs treat injured bait. They trigger the fish’s instinct to attack.
Spoons have been around since the beginning. This simple, often teardrop-shaped piece of metal has a hook attached. It is available in many metallic finishes, including gold, copper, and silver. They attract all types of fish when jigged. To make their offerings appealing, some anglers add natural bait.
6. Topwater Plugs
Topwater Plugs are able to float on the water’s surface. They are typically made of plastic or Balsa Wood and can attract explosive strikes. There are many styles of Topwater Plugs, including Walk-the-Dog, Poppers, and Prop baits.