Frequently, fans of Flats Class ask what is your favorite hard bait? A top water or maybe a lipped plug? That question, simply can’t be answered with one bait choice. But, if I widened the possibilities to include an entire bait category… it would definitely have to be suspending plugs for me. The versatility of these lures in relation to the realism of their profiles and their swimming action always pays big dividends!
Suspending plugs come in a variety of sizes and profiles for inshore anglers trying to imitate finger mullet, pinfish and pogies or any other “fin fish”for that matter. And some manufactures re-create these baitfish with unbelievable realism and detail in appearance. But in my opinion, the bait doesn’t have to be a perfect duplicate of the “Real McCoy”, it does however need to be similar in profile and base color! For instance, I often choose my bait profiles (look) based on either seasonal forage or the size of the bait currently present in the water on that trip. Once profile and size has been determined,then color is founded on water clarity first and “match the hatch” second for me. By in large, once the profile, size and color is narrowed down the only other important consideration is retrieve tempo.
The lure action and tempo imparted by the angler is generally the “real trigger” of the bite not just the realistic look of the plug. That’s the beauty of the suspending plug category… the angler plays a prominent role whether or not the fish accepts or refuses the lure! It’s why I enjoy this category baits so much because it provides me the opportunity to coax the fish into striking by varying the tempo of the retrieve. Having control over the plug to simulate a fleeing or a wounded bait and being able to evaluate how the targeted gamefish reacts to it… is priceless!
In most inshore regions, all of the typical littoral zone predators love to smash well presented suspending baits without hesitation! These baits routinely fool the most discriminating snook, redfish, trout and even tarpon in the hands of a skilled angler. Gamefish are susceptible to this category of baits mostly because it’s natural for predators to have a primarily “fin-fish” diet, this makes suspending plugs an all-purpose option for anglers.
After much experimentation with sink rates and lure actions, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for our fans who originally posed the question “What’s your favorite lure?” When it comes to selecting a suspending plug for depths in the 1′ to 2′ range, I favor Mirrolure’s Catch 2000 and the entire Mirrodine line-up. I found that these two offerings not only “match the hatch” but re-produce both natural & erratic swimming motions better than all the rest. A close third suspending lure that I do consider a sure fire bet, especially in cooler water temps, would have to be the Paul Brown Lure! The Paul Brown Lure has been a popular twitch bait in Texas for big trout for decades and now is getting quite a cult following in Florida and the Carolina’s. There are several other suspending plugs that I enjoy employing in some deeper water scenarios but the above three lures are unquestionably my preferred choices that often pay big dividends for my clients and myself!
Just another suggestion from the poling platform from Capt. C.A.!