2015-06-18 / Nature

More Bang for Your Bucktail


Dennis Zambrotta, of Newport, has 40 years of surfcasting experience and has pursued striped bass from Montauk Point to Cape Cod and many points in between. Dennis Zambrotta, of Newport, has 40 years of surfcasting experience and has pursued striped bass from Montauk Point to Cape Cod and many points in between. If I were to tell you that three of the best surfcasting striped bass producers all cost less than five bucks, would you believe me? Read on. I’ve been playing the surfcasting game a long time, and experience has taught me that you can limit yourself to three very affordable (under $5) presentations and have a very good chance at success.

A few years back, I started to work part time at the Saltwater Edge retail tackle shop located in Middletown. One of the most common questions I get is, “What is the best lure to catch striped bass from the surf?” Well, as we all know, there are many different answers to that question with thousands of potential lures to choose from. I could easily recommend three plugs that could very well total over $50. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when you may need specialized plugs to catch bass, I can recommend three of the most effective striped bass surfcasting catchers of all time, each for less than $5.

So what are they?

A 1½ oz. white bucktail jig: This one item should be a staple of every surfcaster in the Northeast. It’s a very effective lure in almost all conditions and catches striped bass from schoolies to cows. It’s no wonder that a bucktail jig is included in every military pilot’s survival kit. Very versatile, a bucktail jig can be fished as is or adorned with a plastic curly tail, pork rind, or even white felt. In many scenarios, all you have to do is cast it out and reel it in. I’d be willing to bet the basic white bucktail jig has taken more surf-caught stripers than any single plug around. Cost: $3.50 - $4.50.

A live eel: The natural eel presentation has probably taken more large surf-caught striped bass than any other method. Even during times when bass are finicky, they often will readily strike an eel. Much has been written about using eels in the surf; it’s a legendary technique to say the least. And it’s recyclable! When it dies, continue to use it as a rigged eel. Cost: $2.

A teaser (also referred to as a “dropper”): For those who don’t know about teasers/droppers, they are anything tied ahead of your primary presentation, generally attached via a six-inch section of stiff mono to the lower ring of the barrel swivel of your main leader. Teasers/ droppers have been around for a very long time and have been used with great success by sharpies and novices. Nowadays, teasers are generally made from saddle hackle feathers and/or bucktail hair tied onto a strong single hook. They should be attached approximately two feet in front of your main offering. The idea is to present a small natural looking artificial to mimic smaller baitfish. Teasers/droppers will readily take finicky bass that may not hit your main offering. Many old-timers can relate occasions when you would go fishless without a teaser. Another popular teaser is the 4½ inch Red Gill Rascal. This soft plastic dropper imitates a small sand eel and has taken more jumbo bass than you can imagine. Cost: Feather $2.25 - $3.50

Red Gill $2.75

So there you have it, three proven killer striped bass lures for less than the cost of a fin. Even if these three items are all you use this season, you will still be very successful.

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