Whether you’re wading, casting off a dock, or fishing from a boat, these top 10 saltwater lures will ensure a successful catch.
The Bomber 1A—known today as the Bomber LongA—works well from a stand-still or when cast off a boat. This seven and a half inch plug comes in yellow or black, and though in the past it has suffered its share of lost hooks and broken split rings, it was widely used for its effectiveness in a variety of conditions. It spins just beneath the surface when reeled slowly and rolls at greater depths when brought it quickly, making it successful at attracting a wide array of fish.
The Bucktail earns its place in the top 10 saltwater lures list by boasting a more successful track record than the Bomber. Like the Bomber, it too works well whether it is cast from a dock or from a boat, but this leaded jig attracts fish when it is made to rise and sink through the water. The fisherman achieves this effect by lifting and lowering the end of the rod. The lure’s distinctive white and red coloring becomes more effective when the hook is baited.
Shallow-water fishing might not know as successful—and idiosyncratic—a lure as the Zara Spook, which has been attracting every kind of fish shallow-water fish from redfish to snook since its plastic-bodied design came on the market in 1930. Like the Bomber and Bucktail, the Zara Spook plays well when manipulated; by letting out some line then flicking the end of the fishing rod up and down, the fisherman can “walk the dog”, a term commonly used to describe this lure’s ability to flit from side-to-side in the water.
While the Bunker Spoon may lack the versatility of the first three, it compensates with a long history of attracting the big fish. A traditional trolling lure, the Bunker Spoon’s rich green spade-shaped design allows has done particularly well with striped bass. The Montauk Striper company produced a weightier version called the “Secret Spoon,” which has helped fishermen hook stripers weighing as much as seventy pounds!
Another of the top 10 saltwater lures which works particularly well in shallow water is the D.O.A. Shrimp. Originally the product of designer Mark Nichol’s lifetime of experiences as a shrimp fisherman along the Florida Gulf coast, D.O.A Lures now issues a series based on Nichol’s original three-inch, white-bodied design, which works well in marshy shallows.
Lefty’s Deceiver—one of the most successful saltwater flies in history—also owes its inception to a particular individual. Lefty Kreh came up with the design for Lefty’s Deceiver when plying his fly-fisherman’s trade in the Chesapeake Bay circa 1950, where stripers and other fish favored the alewife. Lefty designed the lure to resemble this local favorite; its bucktail-hair tail is dyed yellow and brown, and its plastic body tip has been fitted with two little eyes and shiny tinsel to add a little flicker of life when the lure breaks water at the end of a cast.
Like Lefty’s Deceiver, the Green Machine lure trades on its characteristic design. Featuring a white tip connected to a green tail by a series of threaded green beads, this one of the top 10 saltwater lures has become a staple lure in many East Coast fishing companies’ patterns because of how well it works to attract tuna.
When moving into deeper waters, few among the top 10 saltwater lures handle controlled-depth fishing better than Mann’s Stretch+Play. This lure resides in the same minnow-shaped plug family of lures as the Bomber LongA; but, unlike the Bomber, Mann’s Stretch+Play can successfully troll at controlled depths without the aid of wire line or downriggers. Bass, grouper, and tuna in waters stretching from the Northeastern United States to the Gulf have succumbed to the deep, seductive roll of this plug lure.
Though it comes in three designs to accommodate various depths, the MirroLure 52A, like Mann’s Stretch+Play, also finds itself most at home in the deeper waters, particularly off the Gulf Coast of Florida. Its steely-green body, lipless tip, and the narrow, controlled wriggle the lure makes when drawn in, have earned this top 10 saltwater lure the nickname “Troutmaster” from fisherman who’ve used it to lure a wide variety of fish from the Gulf.
Just as the “Troutmaster” MirroLure 52A was the L + S Bait Company’s first saltwater lure, the Rapala Magnum was the saltwater version of the original freshwater lure designed by Lauri Rapala. Unlike the “Troutmaster”, which exhibits a tighter wriggle when drawn through water, Rapala designed his original lure to mimic the erratic shimmying of the weaker fish most game fish seemed to prefer. The Rapala Magnum’s wired hardwood body is more durable than the original’s balsawood construction, but it still shimmies with characteristic skittishness.