A SOFT TOUCH
When it comes to artificial lures for speckled trout, the record for numbers of fish surely goes to soft baits that imitate shrimp or forage fish. These days, lure makers combine biodegradable materials, colors and scents to create something that almost looks good enough for a human to eat! While my award for innovation still lies firmly in the hands of Berkley for its Gulp! and Gulp! Alive! products, other manufacturers are giving the company a run for the title.
MirrOlure, much respected for its innovative hard baits, has entered the soft-bait market with several products. In the unscented category are the 3-inch Soft Sardine, 4-inch Soft Shad, 4-inch Soft Minnow and 5-inch Soft Mullet. All of these come in a wide variety of single and two-tone colors. The 3 3/4-inch Lil John and 5-inch Provoker are MirrOlure’s entry into the scented soft-bait category.
MirrOlure also pulled off a trout-fishing coup when it acquired the rights to manufacture the Paul Brown lure series — Original, Floating Original, Fat Boy, Floating Fat Boy, and Devil. For years, Texas anglers pretty much had these lures to themselves. Now, the rest of us will get a chance to see what all the fuss is about. While the cork cylinder encased in a soft-plastic body design is true to the original design, the lure is now available in a wider variety of colors.
When Bomber dove into saltwater, the company went all the way, producing no less than eight different soft baits for the Saltwater Grade series. Trout anglers need to check out the Life-Like Shrimp, a 3 1/2-inch, weight-and-hook-integrated imitation of the popular crustacean that comes in six colors. It’s made with FUSE scent and taste technology and even has a rattle chamber to mimic the sound of a fleeing shrimp.
The Mud Minnow Paddle Tail, also made with FUSE, comes in 4- and 6-inch sizes in a choice of 15 colors.
Another newcomer into the saltwater soft bait game is Trigger X with a line of biodegradable products infused with Ultrabite pheromones to stimulate a fish’s smell and taste. Trigger X offers four models specifically for saltwater anglers and three are good choices to fool a seatrout. The Trigger X Shrimp
measures 3 inches and comes in four colors. The Trigger X Minnow and Trigger X Paddletail Minnow come in two sizes and eight colors.
ODDS AND ENDS
Rattling floats and soft baits make a deadly combination for trout. But in coastal areas where tides fluctuate several feet each day, it can be downright annoying when you have to keep changing leaders as water depths rise and fall.
The Betts Tackle Aggravator Series Depth-Adjustable float combines features of a traditional slip float with a rattling float to give anglers the best of both worlds. It takes only a few seconds to adjust the stop knot ensuring that you lure stays in the strike zone.
Jig heads come in just about every shape, size and color imaginable, but it took Blakemore Lure Company to create the Salt-Runner for trout anglers who want a little more action in their soft baits. This combination of an 18-kt gold-plated blade, painted jig head and Daiichi Bleeding Bait hook comes in 1/4-ounce and 3/8-ounce sizes and two colors — chartreuse Shad and albino. The lift created by the spinner blade makes it possible to fish a jig head and soft-plastic combo a bit slower — a technique that can be very effective during the winter when fish are still hungry but lethargic.
Another new product for the business end of a trout terminal-tackle set up is the Heavy Hook produced by Bomber. Cone-shaped weights in sizes from 1/16- to 1/4-ounce are fused onto the shaft of appropriate-sized hooks in black nickel and red colors. Thread your favorite soft bait onto this hook, and it will take a freight train to pull it loose! The weight-integrated hook also allows for a more effective presentation by keeping the bait in a more horizontal attitude.
While many trout-tempting lures come with their own built-in scent, there’s still a place for attractant sprays and gels. Berkley’s Gulp! Alive! is available in 8-ounce spray bottles and four saltwater scents, including shrimp. Trigger X puts its Ultrabite saltwater solution in a spray bottle. Carolina Lunker Sauce has the Saltwater Pro-Gel series in menhaden, sardine, shrimp, and crab scents.
The next time you take to the water in search of speckled trout, be sure to bring a selection of these lures in a variety of colors. If you do, chances are you’ll turn a day of fishing into a day of catching. Plus, opening a well-stocked tackle bag and picking the right lure for the situation can be almost as much fun as catching a fish.