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Salt finesse lure boxes


bulldog1935

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There are 2 ways to fish inshore all winter - mullet are really big, 5-6" - one way is to fish big topwaters and suspending Corkys for a few large fish that will take them. 

The second way is imitating tiny glass minnows, and fishing where they're concentrated in bait balls.  Both daytime structure where they're focused by tide currents and wind currents, and night-time lights.  The bait balls also concentrate gamefish, which will sip tiny lures.  Often, you'll see the gamefish, and they ignore everything else you throw at them.  Winter shrimp are also tiny, and also are drawn to lights at night. 

 

Cold rain here over the weekend.  Saturday, put a dozen tamales in the steamer to graze all day, and began arranging lure boxes for our Arroyo Colorado trip on the February new moon.

The arroyo in far south Texas, part of the Rio Grande delta, includes a dredged barge channel, one side lined with houses and dock lights.  The schoolie male speckled trout that travel 20 mi/day to chase bait, sweep through here every night.  Finesse and stealth will get you a limit every night, and they're all males.  The dock piles stack up with snook, redfish are deep under the lights. Results from one night last winter, and 3 licensed fishers. 

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We've made this trip on 8 new moons, 6 winters in a row, so I know what works and why, and I've had time to put all this together.  The trick to catching specs is getting multiple followers, so they will feed in competition. Even then, we've seen them in pairs, closed-mouth, pushing the natural bait on the surface to test it.  While the fish come to us, it's anything but fish in a barrel.  Change-up is important - stealth is especially important - they have 4 miles of lights to choose other than ours.

 

Plug box - this box doesn't glow. Blue is a primary color at night - pink becomes important under the lights because of transmitted light through glass minnow bodies.
Speckled trout will hit larger prismatic lures for slashing into a bait ball, but both redfish and snook are picky about individual bait size. The smallest are 38 mm Duo Ryuki S, and have been my most productive lure on winter snook.  The smaller lures have hook swaps from micro-trebles to plug-single hooks, and fish best with BFS. 

You look at the dock light structure as a bowl, with the bait "hiding" inside the light, and gamefish feeding from the dark. You target the edges of the light bowl.  The largest lures are for dredging deeper in the channel, beneath the light bowl. There are also a couple of prop-tail topwaters, in case I hear a slurping snook in the nearby dark. 
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This is a dredging lure glow box for fishing under the light bowl. Flashy silhouette-glow and pattern-glow lures are especially effective. Solid glow works well enough casting into the dark beyond the lights.  The larger plugs fish fine on ML to MH tackle. 

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The 3" clicking cigar corks are fished with a 4' leader for shrimp, either live if we can get it, or if we can't get live shrimp, the Nikko Okiami rigged for kicking evading shrimp - the plastic is made from krill.  The lightweight cigar cork dropper rig fishes best with finesse spinning tackle. 

 

This year, I'm adding metal micro-jigs - 3 to 5 g, down to 20 mm length. Most of these have pattern glow, cast like a bullet and flutter slowly to deep. Also glow micro-plugs in this box. Top left is a squarebill wake bait with soft glow - right below it is a bottom-bouncing soft glow plug.
You catch the snook against the dock piles outside of the lights. The small metal jigs on a matching all-range finesse rod are my best shot at an over-slot snook this year.  Something else about the metal jigs, they are inexpensive, only $3 or so. 

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The boxes are Meiho 1200NS - 10" x 7" x 1", fully adjustable - they're amazing for arranging trip boxes, and take up very little space.
Also didn't show plastic bodies we'll rig as tandems on finesse spinning tackle. These include 2" weighted swim shad, and neutral-density suspending that you fish on a small worm hook without added weight.

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A fly rod with sinking line, an intermediate slime line or Teeny sinking shooting head, small size 6 whistlers or hi-ties, also works well for change-up.

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@BASS302

Almost all are sinking plugs, and they're made that way - some have rolling bearing balls that travel to the back for a cast, and also click the wobble - I think those steel beads move side-to-side to click. 

The glow in the Duo Tetra Works Toto 35s (35 mm) is the pink or blue soft bead, and came that way (the "larger" Tetra Works glow plugs in the jig box are Toto 45 mm).

The Tetra Works 35s are very light at 2.1 g, and very small - I replaced the size 16 trebles with size 8 plug hooks.

 

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The Smith D-Compact 45s (45 mm) weighs 3.5 g, and has scored well in past years, both under the lights, and in daytime tide passes farther up the TX coast.  

No glow, but good color, texture and flash - size 6 plug hooks.  

(the bottom hook is doubled on the split ring in the photo set up, normally rides down)

 

Duo Tetra Works are salt lures with salt split rings and hooks - still have to swap tiny trebles for useful singles. 

Most of the non-glow plugs are stream trout plugs - I swap both the bronze split rings and treble hooks - looking to get 11-16 lbs out of #0 and #1 split ring test.

The really soft bronze split rings and tiny trebles, I just cut them off and pitch them.  

Duo made a limited run of Salt Ryuki 45s, which still have trebles in my plug box. 

 

Another note, the single plug hooks fish better on BFS than spinning finesse - they tend to foul the line on spinning casts, but BFS keeps the line tighter and prevents that. 

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Excellent writeup as always, wanted to let you know I ordered the Nikko shrimp you recommended, mackerel out west here love em on aji gear! I wish I had a collection of handbaits as big as yours! I also really like the floating Nikko baits. Are the slow fall jigs duos? Are they worth getting?

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@PressuredFishing

Thanks - I kept the draft open a couple of days to edit like an article before posting.  When I shared it with a friend, he told me I was letting too much good information out of the bag.

BR automatically saves your post drafts - it stays there forever, even if you close the window, until you delete it or hit Submit. 

 

Especially the plugs, I've been working on for several years - the ones I Really can't do without, have a few stashed in package, e.g., certain Ryuki colors.  If you run across Eclipse RB77 STX45, do not pass go - Tackle House makes this lure and offers this same color, great lures in a range of sizes (also shad shapes) - but only the "Eclipse-tune" has silhouette glow.  Half-oz dredging plug works as a shoolie diviner - one cast will tell you if they're under your light.    Has only caught a few, but one cast will get 4 or 5 bumps if they're there - change up to the small stuff.

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I had to go back to my fishingshop.kiwi order to identify the jigs, but there's just a couple of Duo, many Xesta, Major Craft, Angler's Republic, Ja-Do, Magbite - the last two look the most promising for action, Xesta has the best colors.  It was $52 worth - worth it? - will let you know in late Feb - they're sure made to cast.  I  buy enough at kiwi I have rolling bonus points to cash in. 

I went through their online catalog, brand by brand, throwing lures that looked right in my cart, went back and edited my cart for what I really wanted.  Kinda like BR posts, if you have a log-in there, your cart stays open indefinitely, so you can come back to it later. 

 

Though kiwi charges $40 to ship, their lure, line and rod prices are deeply discounted, and if you place a big enough order, it easily offsets the shipping compared to other JDM vendors with $25 courier charge, or onshore importers with much higher prices (e.g., kiwi only wants $8 for a Ryuki S).  They also carry the full range of Meiho boxes at discount, Smith split-ring tweezers, Vanfook ME plug hooks...

 

Kiwi also sells the Zeake clip-jigheads and Vanfook twin dancer hooks with ring that I use on the shrimp cigar cork dropper. 

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The small Zeake hook is also used in the rig, reversed in the clip and buried in the shrimp head - it's ballast, and keeps the head stiff. 

When you click the cigar cork, the shrimp doubles over like a shrimp evading with its tail.  It settles down head-first, like a shrimp swimming with its legs. 

I've been fishing shrimp tails this way since the '80s, when we could get Stazo clip jigheads here. 

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