Hungry for a new angle on pursuing reds? “Spoon feeding” reds just might cure your insatiable appetite for that “new” challenge. It’s well known by anglers that redfish are aggressive and will strike at a variety of baits; but, when it comes to artificial bait, one lure seems to turn the head of a redfish more often than others. That is the “spoon.” Spoons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors; but for the most part, the design of all spoons is such that they either wobble or spin through the water creating noise and flash that ultimately educes strikes. Quite honestly, spoons, if used properly, can be one of the most effective baits out there.
SELECTING THE SPOON FOR YOU
Are the different shapes and sizes that spoons come in really that important? Does it really make a difference? The answer is YES.The style of spoon you choose should be relative to the conditions you are facing while fishing.
Let’s say you are entering a pond or an area that is shallow water, less than three feet deep and there is grass in the pond, not chocked with grass, but enough grass to create cover for both the baitfish and the reds. You should use a weedless spoon in what is called the “teardrop” style, where the spoon is narrow at the top and wide at the bottom; and when retrieved steadily through the water, will spin. Popular brands of this style spoon are the Johnson Silver Minnow and “Rainbow” spoons. Both are very similar. Weedless only means that the spoon has a weed guard which runs on the underside of the spoon from the tip of the lure to the tip of the hook. These style spoons sink fast, and when retrieved at a moderate speed, will not lift. Now if you enter an area that is really choked with grass, a more rounded spoon, such as a Nemire “Red Ripper” Spoon, will be required.
The difference between the two styles of spoons is that the Johnson minnow has a tendency to sink faster by its design than the “Red Ripper,” which flutters as it is descending; therefore, it sinks through the water column much more slowly than the Johnson Silver Minnow. The shape of the Nemire Spoon is what allows it to sink at a slower rate; therefore, under heavy grass conditions, it will allow the angler to work this lure slowly without tangling in the grass.
There is quite a difference between the two styles. The “Silver Minnow” spins, and the “Red Ripper” has a wobbling effect which creates lift to the spoon allowing it to stay in the upper part of the water column. This design allows the angler to keep the spoon working without fouling or tangling in the grass. Our marshes in southeast Louisiana are so diverse that in a 1/2 mile stretch, an angler may encounter a section of water that is full of grass, make a turn around a point and find no grass, but plenty of oysters. Both style spoons, “Silver Minnow” and “Red Ripper,” are perfect for the oyster beds.
DECIDING ON WHAT
SIZE TO USE
Spoons come in all different sizes. The sizes are categorized by weight. 1/4 OZ., 1/2 OZ. to 5/8, and 3/4 OZ. are what you should have available in your tackle box. These sizes should pretty much cover the different conditions you may face. Choosing a spoon to use should be relative to the conditions you face while you are fishing.
A 1/4 oz. spoon or smaller is normally used in shallow water, let’s say two feet or less, or in heavy grass conditions. Very lightweight spoons work perfectly in extreme shallow conditions for a couple of reasons.
They make little or no splash when entering the water, therefore the chances of spooking a red will be low. Casting a heavy spoon into a shallow water pond would not be advisable. These lightweight spoons are also perfect for grassy ponds as they are very easy to work in the upper portions of the water column, above the grass, and, for the most part, slide through the grasses quite easily. If you are working waters where the bottoms are muddy or sandy and have little or no grass, then using a 1/2 oz. or larger spoon will be quite effective. Normally, when you are fishing areas like this, it is the ponds closer to the Gulf where the currents are stronger. During stronger tides, use a heavier spoon as the weight will allow the spoon to sink in the current; a lighter spoon will stay closer to the surface. A strong tide will compound the “lift” of your spoon when you are retrieving it. Adjust the size of your spoon depending on the strength of the current. Don’t be afraid to experiment as you will see a tremendous difference in how each size spoon will perform under certain currents. Oyster beds are certainly locations where redfish hang out and depending on how deep the water is, this will determine which size spoon to use. Very simply, the shallower the water you are in, the smaller size spoon you want to use.
There is no question that a spoon can be quite simple to use. Cast it out and retrieve. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is, but if that is all you do with a spoon, you are going to miss many opportunities. This is where spoons really prove themselves as they are an extremely versatile bait. They can be fished fast, slow, vertically jigged, fluttered, and yes, the simple, ol’ regular “bring it back to the boat” retrieve. Wait a minute, you say that I can flutter and jig spoons? Absolutely! These two techniques work wonders.
Fluttering a spoon will result in more strikes than you can imagine, and it is quite a simple technique to master. Instead of retrieving the spoon directly back to you, lift your rod tip up high, then as you bring your rod tip down, twitch your wrist, and this will cause the spoon to “flutter” while it is falling. As the spoon hits the bottom, you slowly reel the spoon; and at the same time, lift your rod tip up, and then drop your tip and begin the fluttering technique again. This works awesomely, especially if you are doing the same ol’ cast and retrieve, and you feel a bump but don’t get hooked up. By slowing down the spoon and fluttering, the red will find the spoon again and this time will probably crush it.
Fluttering a spoon also works great in the grass beds as it allows the angler to not only work the top part of the grass, but by slowing the spoon and fluttering, it allows the bait to sink into the grass and appear as a wounded baitfish. This is an extremely effective technique that, if you have never used, will surprise you. The same technique can be and should be used over the oyster beds. Present your spoon over the bed, then flutter the spoon through the bed. As your spoon hits the oysters on the drop, and you will feel it, just raise up your rod tip while you are reeling. This will allow your spoon to rise above the oysters and once it does, just resume with the fluttering technique. Redfish are not always cruising; quite often they will be sitting on an oyster bed or on a point, and if you just cast and retrieve, you may just blast right past the fish. Slow it down, flutter the spoon, and hold on!
Jigging a spoon in deeper waters can also be effective. Working rock piles, pilings, or bottom contours with spoons can entice a red when nothing else will. For the most part, this technique begins with a short cast towards a structure that you know exists, and then simply lift and lower your rod tip slowly as this will allow your spoon to flutter in the lower part of the water column. Expect the strikes to occur while the spoon is falling. As in almost every aspect of artificial bait fishing, work your spoon as slowly as you possibly can without getting hung up. Slowing the retrieval rate will always result in more strikes.
“Spoon feeding” a red while sight casting can be one of the most exciting experiences in which an angler can partake; but, most importantly, you will soon learn while watching these incredible fish attack a spoon how at times, they hit with such aggression and at other times they ingest the spoon with such gentleness that, in all rights, it should not be called a strike. That is, of course, until you set the hook. When sight casting for reds, observe what the red is doing. Is he staying put in one place? If he is, he is probably waiting to ambush whatever comes by him. Or is he on the prowl? If he is just sitting, cast your spoon to a position where you will be able to bring it directly in front of him.
Hopefully, upon first glance at the spoon, he will attack it; but if for some reason he does not, stop the spoon and flutter it in front of the red. The spoon should stir up the bottom like a shrimp or baby mullet does. This should trigger the red into striking. Watching this unfold will cause heart palpitations like you can only imagine. Now if the red is swimming, cast your spoon past the red and retrieve the spoon towards the red. Most of the time the red will pounce on it; but if he doesn’t, just stop the bait for a second. The sudden change may get his attention.
By their nature, spoons have a tendency to twist lines if they are not rigged properly. There are three simple procedures that will prevent headaches for you:
1. A small split ring placed into the eye of the Spoon and then a 50 lb. SPRO swivel attached to the split ring to which your line will be tied.
2. A loop knot tied can prevent twisting, but this is my least favorite.
3. A 10-12” leader joined with a 50 lb. SPRO swivel is my favorite, and will prevent all twisting. Your line from your reel attaches to one end of the swivel, then your leader end attaches at the other end of the swivel, and at the bottom of the leader you will attach your spoon.
Spoons come in different colors, but the most popular are gold, silver, and black. Gold spoons are probably the most popular by anglers as they seem to be the most versatile. Muddy, clear, it does not seem to matter, the gold spoon seems to work. Although in muddy conditions, I’ve found that the silver spoon can be a more effective and productive color than either the gold or black. Now as far as the black, I prefer to use this color in crystal clear conditions and work it very slowly.
Before your next trip to the marsh, stop and pick up some spoons! Those aggressive fish that prowl the marsh, that we know as reds, like to be “spoon fed.”