Hard Baits in Shallow Salt

arnold fish w shrimp

By Jason Arnold

Hard baits are go-to lures for almost any game fish in the ocean, including the salt flats favored by kayak anglers. They are easy to work too. Irresistible lifelike action is built in. Don’t be afraid to throw them around structure. They are especially productive for the snook, redfish and trout that stalk the grass flats and mangrove islands.

Choose a medium action seven-foot, six-inch spinning outfit loaded with 20-pound braided line. It is stiff enough to impart additional action when twitching the lure, and soft enough few hooks will pull on the set. I prefer to use a 6-foot leader of 25-pound fluorocarbon attached by an Albright knot. The Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Shrimp is a great place to start. It is a slow sinker effective in one to three feet of water.

Here are three techniques to improve your game when fishing with hard baits for snook, redfish and trout.

Method to the Madness

To wake the dead and entice fish to strike, employ a chaotic sub-surface twitching technique. A fast, erratic jerking retrieve causes a lot of commotion and imitates a wounded baitfish or to attract the attention of predators lurking deep in the mangroves or sandy potholes.

Numbers game

Cover a lot of water while working the bait steadily to pinpoint where the fish are located. This technique can be a lot of work as you spend time casting and retrieving. Create a slight twitch with the hard bait periodically to make a big flash so the fish can anticipate the bait’s movement. Although this method is effective, be warned. Your arm is going to be sore the next day.

Paddle Troll

When moving from spot to spot, avoid packing up your gear to head to the new location. Use the opportunity to troll the waters and sneak up on unsuspecting fish. Throw a hard bait out of the back of the kayak and start a steady paddle to your next spot. This technique may save the day as you hook up in an area you don’t typically find fish. You might even discover a productive new spot.