Top 6 Goto Saltwater Lures For Surf Fishing

Last updated on May 9th, 2024 at 07:44 pm

I don’t know about you, but when I’m fishing, I’ll use whatever I can to catch fish. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s live bait, cut bait, synthetic baits, or artificials. However, there is something special about using Lures for surf fishing and being able to fool fish with plastic and metal imitations.

There is no shortage of available saltwater fishing lures. Lure companies are constantly coming up with new designs, and color options, and some with added fish-attracting scents. The trick becomes, how do you sort through this seemingly endless variety of lure options to find the best lures for surf fishing?

QUICK LOOK: Top Recommended Saltwater Lures for Surf Fishing

The lures on this list offer a combination of versatility, proven track record, and ease of use that both novice and experienced anglers can appreciate.

  • Spoons: If you can only have one lure, get yourself a silver spoon. They will catch fish anywhere on the planet. Their reflective surface and erratic movements mimic wounded baitfish.
  • Soft Plastic Lures: Versatile and irresistible due to their lifelike feel and motion in the water. Soft plastics come in a variety of shapes sizes and colors to match any hatch.
  • Stickbaits or Plugs: Designed to look and move like real fish, and with options to fish the entire water column, these lures have been standard equipment for surf fishing for decades.
  • Jigs: Another go-to lure that can be customized with various trailers or tipped with bait. Jigs can be very effective lures for surf fishing for a variety of gamefish.
  • Scented Lures: Science and technology have given fishermen a variety of scented lures that, in many cases, can outperform even live bait.
  • Topwaters: They are at the bottom of my list simply due to the nature of surf fishing. Waves can make it difficult to fish with topwaters, but when the conditions are right, they can produce some explosive action.

Surf fishing is a fun and exciting sport that takes skill, patience, and the right equipment. Among the crucial gear for a successful surf fishing expedition are the lures you choose. Choosing the perfect lures for surf fishing isn’t just a matter of chance; it’s an art that combines knowledge, experience, and a bit of science.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the world of saltwater lures for surf fishing, exploring the top choices for surf fishing enthusiasts. Selecting the right lure becomes a strategic decision that can make or break a day at the beach.

It’s about interpreting the waves, the wind, and the feeding habits of the fish you’re after, factoring in each of these elements like solving a puzzle. By understanding these dynamics, and how to fish lures effectively, you increase your odds of success.

Types of Saltwater Lures for Surf Fishing

Saltwater lures come in various types, each designed to mimic different prey and attract specific gamefish. Understanding the different styles, types, and methods of these lures is essential if you want to be successful in using them for surf fishing.

Having this wide array of lures at your disposal can be a bit overwhelming. But no worries. Follow along as we get a better understanding of the different types of saltwater lures available and how they can be put to use in your surf fishing excursions.

Spoons are THE go-to lure for many surf anglers due to their simple yet effective design. Spoon lures are metal lures with a curved shape resembling a spoon. Their metallic material and curved shape reflect light and mimic the movement of small baitfish, making them irresistible to predators.

No matter where you are surf fishing in the world, you can catch fish with a spoon. This versatility makes them effective for various species, and they can be used in different water depths by adjusting your retrieval speed.

Gator Lures Stainless Steel Spoons
Gator Lures Stainless Steel Spoons

Plugs is a broad category of lures, made primarily of plastic, that includes crankbaits, stick baits, and swim baits. They are designed to attract gamefish through their lifelike appearance and action.

Saltwater plug lures for surf fishing come in a wide range of styles, shapes, sizes, and color combinations. There are lipped lures that control the depth and action of the lure. There are slow-sinking lures, suspending lures, and dip diving plugs, and they have proven to be deadly for surf fishing.

Battlestar Jerkbait
Battlestar Jerkbait

Plugs, on the other hand, are as versatile as they are colorful. Available in various sizes and designs, they can float on the surface or dive deep, attracting fish through their lifelike appearance and motion.

Ever since Nick Creme invented the soft plastic worm in 1949, soft plastic lures have been extremely effective at catching fish in both freshwater and saltwater. These lures can be incredibly adaptable, with shapes and textures designed to replicate shrimp, crabs, and baitfish.

Paddle TailsJerk baitsShrimp Imitations
Soft Plastic paddle tail lures for surf fishing - Zman DieZel minnowLures for surf fishing - ZMan Scented Jerk Shad soft plastic lureD.O.A. Shrimp imitation lure
ZMan DieZel Scented MulletZMan Jerk ShadD.O.A. Scented Shrimp
Imitates Swimming BaitfishImitates Wounded BaitfishShrimp lookalike
Examples of Soft Plastic Lures for Surf Fishing

Soft plastic lures for surf fishing come in three basic patterns or shapes. Paddle tails, designed to look like swimming baitfish. Straight tail jerk baits, designed to resemble a wounded baitfish. And, shrimp imitations designed, of course, to look like a shrimp.

Soft plastic Paddle tails swimbaits are the most versatile and known for their lifelike swimming action. Their design imitates swimming baitfish, making them irresistible to predators. By varying your retrieve you can fish the entire water column and there is a soft plastic lure for nearly any surf fishing scenario.

Soft plastic jerkbaits imitate wounded baitfish, and their design allows for various retrieval techniques, mimicking injured prey. Experiment with twitching and pausing motions to imitate the erratic movements of injured fish.

Soft plastic shrimp imitations are realistic lures that mimic one of the primary food sources for saltwater fish. Their lifelike appearance can trigger strikes from a variety of species. Shrimp imitations are effective in the surf and can be hopped along the bottom or drifted along with the current.

Fishing lure companies, and their R&D departments, are constantly coming up with new and innovative lures and technological advancements. One such advancement is the development of scented artificial lures.

Lures that have fish-attracting scents added during the actual manufacturing process can be highly effective for surf fishing. Sometimes even outfishing natural baits. Two of the most effective are the Berkley Gulp lures and the D.O.A. soft plastic lures.

The addition of scents to these lures can trigger a feeding response from gamefish when standard unscented lures are just being ignored. However, they can be smellier, messier, and more expensive than standard lures. But, they can be the difference between catching fish and just hanging out at the beach.

Bucktail jigs are versatile lures that can be used in a wide range of fishing environments including surf fishing. Consisting of a lead head hook with an attached skirt of hair, feathers, or plastic they create a lifelike appearance underwater.

Bucktail jigs are particularly effective for flounder, pompano, Spanish mackerel, and speckled trout. They can be fished alone or tipped with various baits for added scent and attraction. And, like soft plastics, if you vary your retrieval speed you can cover the entire water column from surface to bottom to find where the fish are lurking.

Last on my list are Topwater plugs. Not because they don’t work, but because surf fishing is not the best for topwater lure fishing. Breaking waves and swells can obscure your view of your topwater lure and you miss the hookset when a fish strikes.

The generally choppier water of the surf zone also makes it more difficult to work a topwater lure effectively. It’s not impossible though, and under moderate to calm conditions, topwater lures can produce some exciting and explosive action for a variety of fish running the surf.

Mirrolure Top Dog topwater lure
MirroLure Top Dog Topwater Lure

The excitement of a surface strike adds an extra layer of thrill to your fishing experience. Topwater lures for surf fishing include two main types, poppers or chuggers, and walk-the-dog style.

Popper lures are designed to create surface commotion, mimicking distressed prey. Their “popping” action attracts predatory fish looking for an easy meal. The noise and movement will draw in fish from long distances.

Walk-the-dog style topwaters are designed to imitate a wounded baitfish on the surface. Many have added rattles or beads inside the lure for added sound to attract predators and can draw some very aggressive strikes.

Tips for Maximizing Your Surf Fishing Success with Lures

Mastering the techniques for using lures for surf fishing effectively is crucial if you want to be successful. Different conditions call for different lures and different approaches. Experience will teach you the subtleties of timing and technique.

Different saltwater species have distinct feeding habits. Learn how to match your lure selection to the specific behavior and forage preferences of the fish you’re targeting.

From the size, shape, style, and color of the lure to the retrieval technique, any or all of these factors can influence your success. First up, matching the hatch is key when selecting lures for surf fishing, or for any fishing for that matter. Each gamefish species has its preferences for prey or food. Understanding the behavior of your target fish is just as important as lure selection.

artificial lure that resembles a mullet next to a real mullet
Real Mullet vs the Imitation

Some species respond better to fast-moving lures while others prefer a slow and steady retrieve. So, whether it’s the erratic darting of a jerkbait for aggressive predators or the subtle swimming or suspending action of a finesse lure for more cautious feeders, you need to match what the fish are feeding on.

A key tip is to observe natural baitfish while you’re surf fishing and try to mimic their movements with your lure. Varying your retrieval speed and include pauses to make the lure look more vulnerable and enticing.

Knowing where you are most likely to find feeding fish in the surf is another important factor in your success or lack thereof. Understanding the movement of tides, currents, and the layout of the surf zone is crucial for finding productive fishing spots such as bars, troughs, and rips.

Don’t overlook weather and environmental factors. Surf conditions, water clarity, and light levels all influence lure performance. Surf fishing conditions can change rapidly. Learn to adapt your fishing techniques, lure selection, and overall approach to maximize success.

For rough waters, heavier lures may be needed to maintain control, while clearer waters might require more realistic and subtler presentations. And, last but not least, it’s vital to maintain your gear. Check your lures frequently for signs of wear and tear such as dull hooks or damaged bodies. Sharp hooks and well-maintained lures will make a huge difference in your catch rate.

Grab Some Saltwater Lures for Surf Fishing and Go Fishing

We’ve explored the diverse world of saltwater fishing lures. From paddle tail swimbaits to shrimp imitations, each lure offers unique advantages in specific conditions. As you head out on your next surf fishing adventure, remember to experiment, adapt, and enjoy the experiences.

While uncertainty is part of the sport’s charm, the lures we’ve discussed were chosen to minimize guesswork and maximize your chance of a successful surf fishing trip. Every outing is an opportunity to refine your approach, and each fishing trip brings new lessons.

Eventually, your patience, skill, and lure choice will come together and you’ll be catching fish. So take this knowledge, choose your lures wisely, and enjoy the thrill that surf fishing has to offer.

As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas, or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. You can follow us on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.

Striper caught in the surf with a topwater lure
Surf Striper on a Topwater Lure

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