Gear and Tactics: How to catch a striper from the boat, spinning rod edition

Looking to catch your first striper from the boat? Or, want to catch stripers more consistently? Well, you’re going to need to right equipment to do so. After perusing this post, you should know exactly what you need to go out and catch stripers.

Here’s a hint, wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends, mothers, fathers: If you’re looking to spoil your striper obsessed loved one, use this blog post to get them set up like a pro.

I get the frustration. You have a boat or a buddy’s boat, and you go out every once in a while but you don’t catch any fish. I had a boat and fished for 3 years before I even caught a single striped bass. Seriously. And you know what I learned? To catch stripers consistently, you need:

  1. To know where to find the bass (hopefully my previous posts have somewhat explained this)
  2. The right equipment

I’m going to make this very simple. We, and I’m using the collective “WE” of all striper pursuers, and really fishermen in general, tend to make things super complicated. Let’s simplify a little bit. For each section, I’ll recommend 1 to 3 pieces of equipment that I know will work. That’s it. Simple enough?

This piece will focus on casting to stripers using a spinning outfit. It will be the first in a series directed at getting some gear info out to you folks who want to catch your first or your millionth striper. Expect these to come in the first weeks of the new year:

  • Trolling and live bait
  • Fly Fishing for stripers
  • Fly Fishing for trout
  • Kayak Fishing
  • Surfcasting

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*Obligatory “I’m not sponsored by any of these products, this is just what I use and find effective, blah blah blah.” But if any of you manufacturers decided you want to throw a little money my way, let me know. I can be bought.

Here’s What You Need

Let’s start here. A spinning setup consists of:

  • A spinning reel
  • Spinning rod (not a casting rod)
  • Line (Braid backed by mono)
  • Leader Material
  • Lures

That’s it! Actually, it’s not that simple. Note that much of this will be tailored to fishing from a boat, but that doesn’t mean certain sections (especially the reel and lures section) aren’t applicable to fishing from shore.

Reel

If you are at all serious about this fishing thing, you should absolutely not cheap out on a reel. There are some decent combos you can buy (the Penn Battle II combo comes to mind), but you’re mostly better off buying your rod and reel separately. If you’re the type of person who likes something for a few days then moves onto the next thing, there’s a whole bin of $29.99 combos over at your local superstore that will suit your purposes beautifully.

If you think you’re going to get a deal and think “man, I can get like 4 of these reels for the price of this one Bill over there is recommending. Screw that guy.” Fine. Do it. But you know what’s not fun? Getting a locked up reel or sticky drag when you get into your first big blitz. Ask me how I know how much this sucks. Trust me. Pay up for a decent reel.

Dawia BG (4000-6500), $100 – $110

DAIWA BG SPINA recent addition to the “around a hundred bucks” spinning reel market, and an excellent one at that. Daiwa updated their seminal “Black and Gold” with a new reel, and it’s about the best you can do for around a hundred bucks. Smooth drag and seems to hold up well to the elements.

Penn Spinfisher VI( 4000-6500) $159-$179

This reel is brand new to the market and it’s making waves. I’ve used the Spinfisher V for years and, besides the Liveliner version, They’ve been great reels. They improve with the VI. Totally sealed, great line lay, HT-100 drag system (mumbo jumbo for Penn’s top tier drag system) Spinfisher Vs are still available at a deeply discounted price, so hop on it.

Quantum Cabo (size 40 – 60) $200-$209

quantum-cabo-csp-60ptse-spinning-reelIt’s so smoooooth. The Cabo feels like a top of the line reel for a mid-tier price. It’s got a killer drag, super clean line lay, it’s light, and just rinse off when you’re done and it should last forever. And they just look damn sexy.

Rod

Spinning rods get a little more complicated when fishing from the boat. You will absolutely be using different rods when fishing different lures or styles. A weightless Hogy will need a different rod than a 4oz Doc.

There are three very important factors to look at when buying a rod: Length, action, and lure weight.

Rod action refers to how a rod bends when under load. A fast action rod will bend in the top third, closest to the tip. A medium or moderate action will bend down to the middle. A slow, or parabolic rod, will bend almost down to the butt.

Lure weight or rating is, very simply, how heavy a lure you can throw. Lighter rods may be something like: 1/2 oz – 1 1/2 oz. This means that the most it can throw will be 1 1/2 oz. Our heavier rods will be able to throw around 3 or 4 oz. This will be our range. For me, lighter is better. A lighter rod will give you sensitivity to feel the bites and will cast your lighter lures better. Remember, your rod is used to “load” the lure on the backcast. So, if the rod isn’t loading all the way, you’re not getting the casting distance you should. A lighter rod, however, may struggle to get leverage on a big bass in current, as you’ll have less lifting power to turn the fish. Gives and takes, my friends.

St Croix Triumph Surf 7’, ½oz – 2oz
This is a beautiful rod for throwing un-weighted plastics. The sensitivity is amazing, and I love the top/bottom cork handles. Although it’s marketed as a surf rod, it has it’s place on the boat sight fishing for cruising bass. Very soft tip for giving a soft plastic the little wiggle it needs.

Star Stellar Lite Spinning, 7’ – 8’, up to 3oz
Great rod with a nice high-quality cork handle. Sensitive tip but a heavier power rod. My go-to heavier plugging and swimmer rod.

Shimano Teramar SE, 7’- 8’, up to , 1 – 3oz or 2oz – 5oz
A very pretty beast of a rod. Excellent lifting power, with a very sensitive tip. You can get these in lighter power too, and the 1.5oz version throws a hell of a small popper. My pick for throwing my heavy offerings.

Lures

Ah yes, the fun stuff. This is where all of the money is spent. Striper lures can be classified and broken down and parsed out into millions of different groups and subgroups. But in an effort to continue the theme of simplification, let’s break our lures down into: Ones that float, ones that suspend or dive, and ones that sink. I’ll give you my absolute two must-haves for each section.

Topwater Plugs

Guppy Jobo Jr

guppyThe action you get on a Guppy is amazing. Perfect for throwing to blitzing stripers by the Canal, or calling up feeding fish from the deep. Mimics a wounded pogy, herring, mackerel, and even squid. This plug is my go-to and consistently outfishes all of my other plugs. You absolutely need a Guppy if you want to catch a bass. Find them here

Heddon Super Spook

heddonA great smallish spook plug that gets finicky fish eating. I like to crawl this thing along the surface, moving it the slowest it can while still achieving the walk the dog action. For the bigger sizes, lose the extra treble.

Swimmers

SP Minnow

spListen, you need an SP Minnow in your box. It is the ultimate fish catcher. Cast it, troll it, rip it through the water, reel it slow and steady, this thing just produces. Bone is my favorite.

Sebile Magic Swimmer
sebilleGreat plug to fish just below the surface of the water. The knockoffs of the classic Sebile plug work just as well. Twitches and sweeps with the

rod will get the strikes.

Softbaits

Hogy 9” unweighted or with a swimbait hook

hogy-skinny-soft-baits-78Love this soft bait. Always had the most luck in bubblegum or white, fished very slowly over shallow sandy bottoms, or through a fast moving rip. Effectively mimics squid and other baitfish. Don’t be afraid to deadstick it.

Storm Swim Shad

storm
Not much to say about this one. Cast it out, retrieve, catch a fish. Only issue is when the fish are tuned in on peanut bunker, this one gets swallowed and guthooked because it looks and acts so similar. Crush the barb to make removal easier.

Jigs

Bill Hurley Sand Eel

bill hurleyThe king of jig-head softbaits. Crushes the competition. Cast and retrieve or vertical jig when the fish are deep on sand eels. An absolute blast and a killer lure in most situations, especially when the bass are on sand eels. I prefer to fish the smaller jig heads, less than 1.5oz and I always use the rat tails. Find them here.

Al Gags Whip-it Fish

al-gag-s-whip-it-fish-lure-1oz-15Similar looking lure to the Hurley, but totally different action. The fish seem to like a more erratic retrieve with this one. I prefer the Al Gags in the heavier sizes, 2oz and up. You can find them here.

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Line/Leader

Back in the old days, a spool of Stren 50# Mono would be all you need. But this isn’t the good old days. Braid is king, and for good reason. Extremely low stretch, low diamenter, and sensitivity really make mono useless when looking at inshore striper fishing. Mono lovers, don’t @ me.

For braid, I almost exclusively use PowerPro. 30#-40# test will get it done. But there are two other types that work just as well:

  • Daiwa J Braid
  • Sufix 832

Always use a leader when fishing braid. I use two different types of fluorocarbon leaders depending on the fishing I’m doing:

  • Seaguar Blue Label
  • Yo-Zuri H.D. Carbon

Lure Storage

This ain’t the old days of 5-gallons buckets filled with tangled plugs and line. And that plastic Plano box is a little outdated too. Success is all about being prepared. And part of this is staying organized. This can mean the difference between catching fish and not. Sifting through a dirty white bucket trying to find that jig head will waste precious time and probably give you tetanus.

planoTackle bags give you extra storage and the flexibility to trade out different plano trays depending on what you’re targeting. Make sure to get a decent one, like this one, the Plano Guide Series Bag. They’ll get wet and dirty, so you need something with industrial zippers and a hard, waterproof bottom.

I label all of my plano tray by either lure type (plugs, swimmers, jigs), or species. Again, when that blitz happens, you don’t want to have to search for that beautifully beat up Guppy plug. Just pull out your plano tray and get going.

There you have it. Everything you or a loved one needs to go out and catch a striper. Got other recommendations or questions? Let me know.

2 Replies to “Gear and Tactics: How to catch a striper from the boat, spinning rod edition”

  1. Excellent intro blog Bill! I like the approach of keeping it simple as we will naturally make things more complicated as we get better at catching our striped friends.

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