Decades of R&D and fine-tuning have enabled tackle companies to develop a throng of lures that seem to out outshine others. Here are nine lures that no angler should be without in 2018.
Minnow plugs came back in a big way when the new generation of long-casting plastic plugs hit shelves around 2011. Yo-Zuri, one of the first companies to introduce lures with an internal transfer system, has produced another long-casting minnow for surfcasters in with the Hydro LC Minnow (yo-zuri.com). With a little more weight, a slightly deeper profile, and heavier split rings and hooks than other minnows on the market, this plug is going to be popular with surfcasters looking to target large stripers in big water in 2018.
You couldn’t find a Savage Gear Sand Eel (savagegear-usa.com) during the height of the 2017 striper season in Massachusetts. This bait was one of the best during the epic summer striper run in the Cape Cod Canal, favored both for its effectiveness and ease of use—cast, let it hit bottom, and retrieve slowly while it swings in the current. This lure is sure to be another hot producer in 2018, so stock up early before the shops sell out.
In 2017, Musky Mania took notice of the demand for their large walk-the-dog bait, the Doc, among striped bass fishermen, and produced a series. The Musky Mania Doc (driftertackle.net) is now available with saltwater hardware and in a variety of saltwater-specific colors. With more Northeast shops stocking the Doc this year, it’s bound to be one of the hot baits for stripers this season.
2017 will be remembered as the year of the peanut bunker, and if that trend continues in 2018, expect to see fishermen using deep-bodied, baby-bunker imitators like the Shimano Coltsniper Twitchbait 80 (fish.shimano.com). This sinking lure can be walked underwater with an erratic action, while its wide profile is a perfect match for peanut bunker.
While a little hard to find in 2017, fishermen who had Hayward Performance Tackle lures did very well with striped bass and albies. The Hayward lineup consists of the Genesis, Chubhead, and Zouk. The 80mm Zouk was especially popular with false albacore fishermen, who were able to coax strikes from finicky fish that ignored skipping metals and soft plastics. The Chubhead enticed strikes from large bass feeding on big baits. With better distribution in 2018, look for more of the Hayward lineup on the water this year.
The popcorn rig has become one of the hottest big-fluke catchers over the past few years. This rig consists of two small jigs fished off dropper loops above a cannonball sinker. The Tsunami Glass Minnow (biminibayoutfitters.com) became an immediate favorite for adorning popcorn rigs in 2017, but the jig sold out quickly, before many fishermen had a chance to try it out. With more Glass Minnows hitting the shelves again in 2018, fluke fishermen should stock up to use them not just as teasers, but as standalone jigs in shallow water. The durable silicone skirt provides action on the drift and the retrieve, and can survive being chomped by a fluke’s sharp teeth.
The past couple of winters haven’t held many ice-fishing opportunities, which meant Northeast anglers re-purposed their ice baits. One lure style that has adapted especially well to open water is the jigging minnow like the Acme Hyper Glide (acmetackle.com). Fishermen using them vertically from their boats in open water have had great success with walleye, smallmouth, crappie, and even largemouth bass throughout the season. While it remains to be seen whether 2018 will bring better ice-fishing, plan on keeping jigging minnows in your tackle box year-round.
Fishermen just began to unlock the versatility of the Storm 360 Searchbait (storm.fishing) as the 2017 fishing season wrapped up. This lure was a strong producer of largemouth, smallmouth, and pickerel in the spring, schoolie stripers through the summer, and even albies in the fall. The bait’s versatility and simplicity make it popular with novice and expert anglers alike—just cast, reel, and let the paddletail and baitfish profile do the rest.