Striped Bass Plugging Feb 1, 2019 16:55:14 GMT
Post by Virginia Striper©® on Feb 1, 2019 16:55:14 GMT
Striped Bass Plugging
For throwing big plugs at stripers, we recommend a spinning rod and reel combo suitable for 20-30lb fused line. The optimal rod is 7′ feet long with a fast to extra-fast action and capable of handling lure weights up to 1 ounce (though you typically throw lures 50% heavier than the rating). Most anglers prefer to use 30lb fused line (as opposed to 20lb fused line) because the slightly increased line diameter does not noticeably affect casting distance.
Recommended Line, Leader, and Terminal Tackle
For striped bass plugging, we recommend loading the reel with 30lb fused line as opposed to braided line or mono. Fused and braided lines allow for much greater casting distance than mono. This is because is the much smaller line diameter of fused and braided lines. In addition, the fused and braided lines have virtually no stretch which allows the angler to carefully work even the most difficult lures, feel the softest hits, and easily set the hook. Fused line is preferred to braided line because it has better abrasion resistance and is less likely to form a wind knot.
The line should be attached to a 3ft length of 30-5olb fluorocarbon leader using a 50lb barrel swivel. The small profile of the swivel virtually eliminates any chance of picking up debris and provides an easy connection point between the line and the leader. The angler needs to be careful not to reel the swivel into the rod as it can damage the guides. Some anglers use an albright or uni-knot instead of a swivel. This knot can be tricky to tie properly with braided and fused lines.
Surface Plug Retrieval for Stripers
As with any popping lure the angler should always experiment with different retrieval speeds. If a fish strikes at the lure and misses be sure to pause for a moment to give the fish a chance to gather itself before it strikes again. Different lures will be effective at different retrieval speeds. When targeting striped bass on poppers, lures that work well at slow speeds are typically preferred.
Surface Plug Styles, Sizes, and Colors
The two most common plug types are poppers (chuggers) and sliders (lipless swimmers). Poppers are typically heaver than swimmers and provide extra casting distance and a better target in choppy water. However, sliders can be worked very slowly and their subtle action can often draw strikes when poppers fail. Pencil poppers have the best characteristics of both types (casting distance and subtle irresistible action), but take some practice before they can be used effectively. Typically lures that are 4-7 inches are preferred, but when really big fish are around, lures up 9 inches can be used. Effective colors vary, but typically anything with a white or silver bottom is going to be effective.
Common Fishing Mistakes
One of the most common angler errors happens when the fish misses the lure and the angler takes a swing to set the hook and ends up pulling the lure out of the hit zone and eliminating the chance for a second strike. Always be sure the line is tight and the fish is on before setting the hook.
Another common mistake is that the fish strikes the lure, hooks itself, and the angler just starts fighting the fish without ever setting the hook. Though stripers never jump, they will thrash on the surface and unhook themselves. Remember to set the hook!
We rarely get the manufacturers original hooks to withstand a season of repeated saltwater use. In many cases we switch the hooks directly out of the package and always replace them with a corrosion resistant 3x treble. We typically carry extra size 2, 1/0, and 2/0 trebles. See our specific hook recommendations below.
Crushing Hook Barbs
Unless you are fishing in a tournament you should always crush the barbs on all treble hooks. It might cost you a fish or two, but plugging is rarely used to target trophy fish (except from the surf). By crushing the barbs you minimize any damage that might be done to the fish. Even more importantly, most angler/hook accidents occur when plugging. Smaller fish are easy to bring to the boat and are typically green (very lively). It doesn’t take much of a head shake or a slip while holding them to end up getting hooked. It can be very difficult to remove a barbed hook from an angler.
Fish Flipping/Release Tool
We always use a fish flipper or release tool. The 3ft leader is just long enough for the angler to get a couple of wraps on their arm to control the fish while it is still in the water. The release tool is used to quickly remove the hooks without exposing the angler to them. It also minimizes any harm or stress to the fish.
Striped Bass Plugging Checklist
7′ conventional rod rated for 20-30lb braid and lure weights up to 1 ounce
Spinning reel rated for 20-30lb braid
20-30lb fused line
30-50lb fluorocarbon leader
50lb barrel swivel
4-7 inch popping plugs
3x replacement trebles in sizes 1, 1/0, and 2/0
Fish flipping/release tool