Skip to main content

Best Lures & Rigs For Finesse Fishing In Saltwater

Lighten up and use these finesse fishing techniques for more bites

Best Lures & Rigs For Finesse Fishing In Saltwater

Downsizing your presentation opens the door to bites you may not get on traditional lures.

Late season cold front? Sudden drops in water temperature can make fish lethargic. Warming up is often their first concern with feeding taking a backseat. Summertime tactics of big plugs and large baitfish imitations might not be your best option. Instead, downsize your offerings, lighten your tackle and slow your presentations.

Some very productive finesse techniques worth trying this time of year started in the freshwater bass scene, predominately out of the Midwest. Anglers realized that with some minor tweaks, these rigs and tactics crossover well into the salt.

open palm holds hrimp and stickbait rigged on finesse-style jigs
Shrimp and stickbait rigged on finesse-style jigs borrowed from the bass world.

The Ned rig has gained a lot of popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness on finicky fish. This presentation is a small, mushroom-style jighead or weighted weedless hook (same weight-forward design) generally 1⁄16- to 1⁄8-ounce, rigged with a small soft plastic no larger than 3 inches. A small stick worm was the original bait that started this craze and it actually works well in the salt. But when convincing lethargic inshore gamefish to eat, there’s no better option than a shrimp.

ned rigged plastic shrimp bouncing on the bottom of the water
Plastic shrimp on Ned rig jighead stands tail-up. Slight bumps of the rod tip will give this bait movement.

The 3-inch Salty Ned ShrimpZ from Z-Man paired with one of these jigs allows for that natural fall through the water column like a shrimp. Once to bottom, the forward weight paired with the buoyancy of the bait allows it to stand on its head, leaving the tail up for fish to see. Minor twitches of the rod tip, and I mean barely vibrating the tip, give this tail action in the water. This subtle movement can be all a fish needs to commit to eating. It’s a killer for staging trout and redfish in potholes in my experience. Pop it like a shrimp if you’d like, but the beauty of a Ned rig in salt water is being able to give your bait action without much forward movement. That can be key when fish don’t want to chase down a bait. Keep that leader light, no heavier than 20-pound fluorocarbon. Yes, you might lose a fish or two, but the amount of bites you’re going to get will make up for it.

nose hooked soft plastic jerkbait and dropshot sinker rig
Dropshot sinker with jerkbait. Nose hooking allows the bait to have action with the slightest vibration of the rod tip.

Another great option for when the fish need a bit of convincing is a dropshot rig. Here again, you are wanting to give your bait action with minimal forward movement. I like this tactic for fishing docks and holes where I know fish are staging. You can even fish it vertically around bridge pilings. A 4-foot piece of 12- or 15-pound fluorocarbon with a ¼-ounce bank weight tied to the bottom will be the start of this rig. Depending on how high you want the bait, add in a dropper loop above the weight. About 10 to 12 inches is standard. If you’re dragging this through grass, you may want to raise it a bit. Then add a size No. 1 J-hook to your loop. You will nose-hook your bait for best action. A small weedless worm hook can be substituted if fishing around grass or snags. Small shrimp and minnow imitations are good choices for the dropshot rig.

bag of zoom jerkbaits hooks and seaguar 20 pound leader on  tree branch
Salty dropshot rig necessities.

It’s all about feel with these finesse tactics. The bites can be very subtle. A fast-action, light-powered rod will still allow you to cast these small baits but more importantly feel what’s going on. Length varies; some guys like to downsize from your standard 7-foot rod, to a 5'6" or 6-foot rod for these light presentations. Pair this rod with a 1000-sized reel and 6-pound braid and you’re not only going to feel everything but have a blast with every fish you catch this spring, no matter the size.FS

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine March 2023




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Hobie Mirage Lynx to the Next Level

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Hobie Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight Packed with Features

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Extend Your Range in the Salt Marsh

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Florida's Capital Fishing

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 FULLY RIGGED Fishing Machine

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Mounting Forward-Facing Sonar on A Kayak: Mounts, Scanning Applications and More!

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

On The Water with Old Town: Bass Fishing at PRIVATE GEORGIA LAKE

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

DECKED-OUT Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL+ 132 Complete WALK-THROUGH

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Dreambuild: Old Town ePDL Gets Rigged to the Hilt

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Kaku Zulu

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Kayak Hulls

Kaku Kayaks owner/designer Kevin Hawkins in Tarpon Springs, FL, shares personal reflections on the synchronous, symbioti...
Videos

Kayaks and Saltwater Flats

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now