Take Em On Top – Striped Bass PluggingBy
I flat out LOVE fishing for striped bass with plugs. While it is true that I spend the majority of my time targetting bass with live baits, there is no method as much fun as taking them on artificials. There is a great sense of accomplishment in knowing that fish at the end of your line is there simply because you fooled it into believing your presentation of a piece of plastic or wood was something it would love for dinner. Bucktails, leadheads adorned with any of the popular trailers and the diving/swimming plugs all account for fantastic catches but I prefer another option.
For my money, none of these afford the angler the thrill of seeing the fish explode on your offering like top-water lures do. While maybe not as productive as the other types of lures mentioned above (although they can be at times) I believe the top-water plugs provide the most fun. You make your strategically placed cast so that the retrieve will bring the lure over the piece you anticipate to be holding fish. As the plug crawls lazily along the surface, the excitement builds as it closes in on the target area. Then it happens, the fish you had planned on being there blows up the surface, spraying water everywhere and is off to the races. You just can’t beat that!!!
There are as many different makes and models of top-water lures as Carter has liver pills but over the years I have narrowed my favorites down to the three I am going to describe in the following. Some may agree with these and others will wonder why I may have left a particular type off my list. I would just reply that in the area I fish I have had my best results with the set mentioned below. To be sure, others DO get tossed into the mix as well but I always comeback to these three favorites.
At the top of my list is the Gibbs Danny Plug. Nowadays there are any number of custom plug builders making these lures and their creations are beautiful and also work well. I pretty much stick with Gibbs just for the simple fact I can walk into just about any tackle shop here on Long Island and find the size and color I want. The Danny is built in such a manner that it swims (wiggles) on a point in it’s center. The front and back will both swing side to side in a fairly equal manner. This plug does it’s best for me while slowly crawled along, the retrieve is just fast enough to keep slack out of the line and the plug wiggling. Since the plug will ride on the surface the angler can adjust his retrieve speed to get the plug working properly. The eye of the plug where the line is connected can be bent up and down to control the plugs depth. Bend the eye UP to have the plug dive, while bending the eye down will make sure the plug rides up top where we want it. Don’t overdue the eye bending and I NEVER mess with the metal lip itself. I have done that experimentation in the past and messed up the plugs ability to grab the water and swim correctly.
Next in line is another lure with a metal lip but it swims in an entirely different fashion. The Pikie type lures feature a metal lip that can be tuned similar to the Danny. However these plugs also feature a cupped head and the weighting is forward to change the swing point on the lures body. Whereas the Danny plug can be tweaked to have it dive down a couple of feet, the pikies can be set to get down MUCH deeper, especially in a fast running current. They also do very nice on the surface which is where I fish them just about 100 percent of the time. The Danny generally rides in the water fairly flat front to back while the pikie can be swam along having the nose dig just under the surface with a tight wiggle as the tail flaps back and forth in a wider manner. It is the different weighting in the plugs body that accomplishes this. These things REALLY make a commotion on the surface that seems to tick off the fish as strikes on these plugs can be vicious.
The final plug I want to mention is the Super Strike Little Neck Popper. These come in two models, a floater and a sinker. I strongly prefer the sinker model for my purposes. The Little Neck can be fished as a standard popper where the lure is retrieved and “popped” with the rod tip causing the cupped front of the plug to throw water and causing a disturbance. This works very well but there is another way to fish this lure that I prefer that is really a mix of two retrieves. The plug is cast and reeled back fast enough to get it on the surface. Once up on the top I retrieve the plug very similar to a Danny plug, however in this case my retrieve is just fast enough to keep the lure on the surface. Done in this manner, the cupped face will cause the plug to wobble on the surface like the metal-lipped lures. Every so often the retrieve speed is picked up just fast enough to cause the plug to jump up a bit throwing a small bit of spray. A lot of takes occur just after this.
I am not a fan of having lures in every color of the rainbow and I carry these three lures in two colors only. White and Yellow are my color choices. If you would like to see more information on some of these plugs check out the following lure makers;