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Plug or Jig?

The answer is yes. A hybrid of both serves the Florida angler well, in certain situations

Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe. To see the Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe in action, and learn more,see here

Rugged, high-speed, lipless trolling plugs such as the Yo-Zuri Bonita, Halco Max and Braid Marauder have long had a place in the Florida bluewater angler's arsenal. These lures are perhaps at their most productive in circumstances where natural baits may be unavailable or undesired. Good example: trolling from one bottom fishing spot to another. Speed is less a limiting factor with these lures than with, say, rigged ballyhoo or mullet. Drop two high-speed plugs in the wake, run 12 knots or more. Get where you intend to go, add a wahoo or tuna to the box. Rinse and repeat.

This year, Yo-Zuri introduced introduced a kind of crossover high-speed plug that fills the same role while suggesting other applications. The High-Speed Vibe is a 5 ¼-inch, 3-ounce little cousin to the venerable Bonita, in the company's Big Game lineup. In bass fishing vernacular, the Vibe would be described as a lipless rattling crankbait—a relative of the Rat L Trap. Fishes like one, too: Cast this lure and reel it; by virtue of its shape, forward weight and line-tie, it digs deep and vibrates. The effect is the same on the troll.

A few days after receiving a test model, we were dragging it at 16 knots on 20-pound tackle. Stays in the wake. Cast, troll… or jig. Free spooled over a reef in 135 feet of water,the Vibe dives about as quickly as a 3-ounce jig; plus, it sort of “wanders” as it falls, looking like a disoriented bait fish struggling to get out of harm's way. Hit fishy depth, engage the drag, and you can yo-yo the lure like the professional bass guys do in the big reservoirs. Or, buzz it straight to the surface.

Berkley Fusion 19 Bucktail.

Bottom line, you can troll a lure like this from bottom fishing spot to spot-and then even bottom fish with the same rig, if you liked.

All this of course brings to mind the ages-old technique of trolling a bucktail jig offshore. Small bucktails (3/8-ounce range) in bright colors are dynamite for dolphin and tuna on a shot gun or long flat line. The same lures,of course, are excellent for spot-casting to fish sighted around floating debris. Heavier bucktails, the 1- to 8-ouncers you'd use in grouper territory, are also pretty good for trolling. The bullet-shaped models are best, as they track straight. Break the beak short on a ballyhoo, hook it up through the chin, and it'll make a good trolling rig for anything from dolphin to grouper. To liven it up, squeeze the sides about midday along until you feel the vertebrae pop. Some anglers add a stinger hook—either wired to the eye of the jig or vise-gripped to the bend of the hook. You won't be hauling baits at 12 knots, but you will be ready to straight-drop into grouper and snapper turf.

Worth noting, on the jig subject: Berkley, this year, introduced a whole series of bucktails, the Fusion 19 jigs. These jigs come with two line-tie points: Forward and midbody. Forward should be optimal for casting or speed-trolling; mid-body for vertical fishing or slow-trolling deep. FS

Florida Sportsman Magazine November 2018

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