Artificials for Snook all year long!!

Author: Captain Paul Wolter | Posted: 04/30/2009
A nice Snook caught skipping a white fluke under a dock
A nice Snook caught skipping a white fluke under a dock

Pine Island Sound Snook caught in a foot of water on a Yo Zuri Banana Boat topwater
Pine Island Sound Snook caught in a foot of water on a Yo Zuri Banana Boat topwater

Snook are one of my favorite fish.  They remind me of a cross between a Largemouth Bass and a Striper, 2 of my favorite fish!!  Snook can be caught a variety of ways, but using artificial lures (and flies) for them is definitely my preferred method.  Is bait effective?  Absolutely.  You can knock-em-dead using live bait at times, especially if the fish are tucked way back up in the mangroves on high tide where lures arent very effective in drawing them out.  If live bait is so effective, then why do I like lures/flies so much?  Simple:

A) No wasted time netting bait in the morning, which at times can take an hour or more!

B) You and/or your boat stay cleaner

C) It's fun to probe around and underneath cover/structure

D) Believe it or not, sometimes they are more you can cover a heckuva lot more water!

E) The biggest reason...its more of a challenge!

 No offense to all the live baiters out there, but there is very little challenge associated with bait fishing.  Catching Snook on artificials takes much more casting prowess, thoughtful lure selection, and concentration.  While there are a ton of lures available to a Snook angler, I have found that only a few are really necessary for the majority of situations.


Suspending Plugs-  My bar none favorite artificial lure to use for Snook!  I tend to gravitate towards smaller, naturally colored offerings (with some exceptions).  While you will see alot of anglers throwing large plugs up to 4" in length, I really like tossing smaller ones from 2-3" long in strictly natural colors....and yes, those big mama Snook nail these smaller plugs.  The small Rapala Husky Jerks are one of my favorite Snook baits ever made.  They catch fish all year long.  A quick and erratic twitch pause, twitch, twitch, pause type retrieve works best when the water is warm.  The same retrieve, but a bit slower with longer pauses in between can work very well in the dead of winter around boat docks and potholes.  Retrieve is everything w/ these baits!!


Topwater baits-  Not my favorite bait to use, but definitely my favorite to catch Snook on!  As mentioned above, I like the smaller sizes in natural fish colors most of the time.  I get a ton more bites on small topwaters,  even from big fish, and they look more natural.  For popping baits, a white Storm Chug Bug w/ chartreuse back is a great can walk it or pop it or mix it up.  For walking baits, its tough to beat a Lucky Craft Sammy, Yo Zuri Banana Boat ("clown" is a great color in stained water), or Zara Spook.  Topwaters can actually work very well while on shallow grass flats or open beachfronts, as the fish cant get a real good look at them due to all the surface disturbance they create.  


Soft Jerkbaits- A texas rigged soft jerkbait is a great lure for anyone, but especially beginners since they are snag-resistant.   The Zoom fluke, and Exude series of soft jerkbaits are 2 of my favorite.   I keep colors down to about 3.......white or grey for clear or stained water.....watermelon or pumpkin for the same water, also a good choice on grass flats....and something darker for dark backwaters, like say motor oil w/ a black back.  These baits are very easy to use, just give them a twitch or two and stop...let the bait glide around a few seconds, then resume.  When you stop, its important you leave a bit of slack in the line so the bait will dart and glide naturally.


Swimbaits-  No, not the foot long ones they use out west for Bass!  Small swimbaits are awesome for Snook, especially when its cold out because you can work them slow yet they still look extremely lifelike.  My 3 favorites are the small Berkeley Hollow Body minnows, the little 2" or so Storm paddletail swimbaits that come in the small baggie, or the "Hybrids"brand bodies that you rig on your own jighead.  Same color selection as for the above baits.  The nice thing about swimbaits is that usually the best retrieve is an easy one...just a slow, steady retrieve...just enough to make the tail kick.  A couple twitches during the retrieve will round out an effective presentation!  If its particularly cold out, you can also hop them off the bottom, similar to a plastic shrimp.

Thats it!  Some of you guys will say "hey what about DOA shrimp"..."What about bucktail jigs?".  Honestly, I have never found a need to carry them and have never had much confidence in them anyway.  For all the Snook fishing I have done in Southwest Florida, these baits have covered all the bases, from warm water to cold water!  This year try something new...leave the bait bucket and circle hooks at home, and go toss some lures!



About The Author: Captain Paul Wolter

Company: Paul Wolter fishing

Area Reporting: South Florida

Bio: Growing up and living most of my life in California's San Francisco Bay Area, I took to fishing at a young age. I started off fishing at local piers and lakes around age 10, eventually branching out into other venues and getting more and more serious about the sport as time went on. I took up flyfishing while in middle school, thus beginning a new passion. Moving to Florida in 2002 opened up a whole new world of angling to me, which I strived to learn and understand as quickly as possible. I have a lot of experience in a vast array of fishing techniques; from dropshotting for Bass in 40 feet of water, to flyfishing mountain streams, to Snook on the fly....all of which helps me to be a stronger, more accomplished angler no matter what species I am after. I pride myself in being very patient and creative on the water, and have always enjoyed sharing my knowledge and insight with others!

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