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SPRING-TIME STRIPER FISHING by Captain Bruno Vasta (printable version, click here)

Early each year, the large Striped Bass, also known as Rockfish, begin their migration out of the Bay having spawned in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake and its tributaries. As these fish move out, they will generally stay in the upper 20 feet of the water column where the water is warmer. Therefore, you want to set your lines to fish that upper portion of the Bay’s water. Some tips to keep in mind are as follows: 

Trolling Patterns:

  1. Runs all your lines in a “W” pattern with your lighter lines way back anywhere from 125 to 250 and even up to 300 feet, using no weight at all.

  2. Some of your other lines may use 2 to 6 ounce inline sinkers with double tandem rigs set about 110 up to 175 feet back.

  3. Finally, your heavier lines up front in the boat can be fished with 12 to 16 ounce inline sinkers on your umbrella rigs; and as much as 20 to 24 ounces set on your deep lines only 55 feet back.

  4. This array gives you a standard “W” pattern for all of your boat rods. When using planer boards, the trolling lines are set light with no additional weight. Usually these planer board rods are set for no more than 80 to 100 feet back and under certain circumstances, they can be fished even shallower. 

Planer Boards:
I use the three-bladed boards connected by stainless steel rods with 75 feet of “weed-wacker” line on each side. Attaching your fishing rigs to the planer board can be accomplished several ways. One of the most popular ways is to set your lines with a double tandem rig on the outside fishing line. Then wrap a number 30 rubber band around the line once you have let out 60, 75 or 100 feet of line from your reel, then attach it to a “shower curtain ring” and slide it out to the end of your board. Another way to attach your fishing lines to the planer board line, is to use adjustable snap rigs with rings to attach the line at its designated length. Once again slide your tandem rig out to the end of your board. This is done for both sides. Then set your second rig for 60 or 75 or 80 feet out and put it out the same way. This will give you a total of 4 rods fishing on your planer boards.

When setting out your lines, put out your roof rods first. One about 275 feet back and the second one 300 feet back; they can either be a single lure, a double lure set-up or a spoon. I prefer a single #19 silver Tony Acetta Spoon. Next, you put in your planer boards and set those 4 rods in motion. I then put out a middle of the stern rod with a double tandem rig out 175 feet (no weight). Now that you have 7 rods out with no weight, you start putting out your side rods with varying amounts of weight depending on wind, waves, and current. On the two back corner lines, I use two umbrella rigs with 12 ounce in-line sinker on one with a 20 foot leader to the umbrella (all white) and put out 110 feet. The second umbrella rig, I use a 16-ounce sinker with a 20 foot leader to a chartreuse umbrella put out 100 feet. If you put out a single lure from the umbrellas, it runs a little smoother and I prefer large bullet shaped parachutes weighing between 6 and 8 ounces. The next set of side rods, I use 5 and 6 ounces in-line sinkers on each rod respectively, using double tandem rigs out 95 for one rod and 125 for the other rod. Finally, my two heavy weight rods, I use 20 and 24 ounces respectively and let them down only 55 feet on each side. These can contain either double tandem rigs of different size parachutes or large buck-tails all with 9-inch Sassy Shads. Another variation is to use a large spoon together with either a large buck-tail or a large parachute with a 9-inch Sassy Shad including a 9/0 or 10/0 stinger hook. Remember that when rigging large spoons like No. 19 or 21 Tony Acetta or 11/0 Crippled Alwive, be sure to use a good ball-bearing swivel about 4 to 5 feet above the spoon. Some people have used two swivels in their spoon leaders.

After we have all 13 rods set, I usually put down two dummy lines that are hooked to a stainless rod screwed directly into the side of the upper cabin. These dummy lines are rigged with 5 pounds of lead so they get down very quickly. I further add a light elastic cord that is attached to a port and starboard bell. This way when the fish hits the lure, the bell will ring. 

Tandem Rigs:
There are several different ways tandem rigs can be constructed, and I will explain how they are used: 

  1. Start making your tandem rigs using 60 or 80 or even 100-pound test monofilament line. Tie on a good quality snap swivel and attach a 3-foot length of leader. Then tie this leader directly to a medium size 3-way swivel that is now ready for the two lures to be attached. First cut off a 12 to 15 foot section of leader and tie on a 5 or 6 oz buck-tail or equivalent size parachute threading on a 9-inch sassy shad using a stinger hook arrangement. To the other end of this leader, tie on another good quality snap swivel that in turn is clipped onto the 3-way swivel. Next, measure off 20 feet of leader material for your lighter lure and attach it to the three-way swivel using a good quality snap swivel. The lighter lure in this rig is usually a 3 to 4 ounce parachute with a 9-inch sassy shad and stinger hook arrangement. Once again attach this lure and leader to the three-way swivel with another quality swivel. There are several leader lengths that can be used as long as there is 5-foot difference between the heavy (shorter leader) and light lures (longer leader).

  2. The second variation of this tandem rig is using a large spoon such as a #19 Tony Acetta as your lighter and mobile lure. Place a ball-bearing swivel about 5 feet before you tie on your spoon and attach the other end of your 16 to 20-foot leader to your snap swivel which in turn clips onto your 3-way swivel. The other lure in this combination can either be a large bucktail or a equivalent size parachute. This spoon will give some additional action to this rig.

  3. One can experiment with different size lures and different colors of both lures and the Sassy Shads. I prefer to use two parachutes of different sizes, but remember, always use the lighter lure on the longer of the leaders and the heavier lure on the shorter leader. Remember, use high quality snap swivels with all of your rigs. You would hate to lose a prize Rockfish just because a snap swivel failed.

One can see that if I troll 13 rod with double tandem rigs, I am offering at least 24 to 26 lures for the fish to see, and hopefully grab onto. Under normal trolling conditions, one should troll at 2.5 to 3.0 mph. Some variation may be needed when encountering stronger tides or winds. I normally troll East to West across the bay and back again so my lures go anywhere from 40 feet of water out to well above 110 feet of water fishing in our area of the Bay. 

Let’s address the types of rods and reels: 

  1. For the roof rods, I have used a good quality light-weight 6-7 foot rods custom built by Ken Preston with either a Penn 309 or Penn 330 GTI reels. In the more recent years, I have graduated up to Okuma T21-L reels loaded with at least 200 yards of 80 pound test Cortland Line as backing, and 130 yards of 60 or 80 pound test “Spectra Braid” line. Be sure that your reel “clicker” is in its working position. What a wonderful sound it is to hear the drag buzzing off. 

  2. The four rods used on the planer boards are also 6.5 foot Ken Preston custom made rods with Okuma T21-L reels loaded with the same type of Power Pro Spectra fiber line. During the years of fishing on the Bay, I have picked up 4 additional Ken Preston rods to give me some extra rod and reel set-ups. The heaviest boat rods on the back of the boat are 5.5 to 6 foot Custom Rods with Okuma Triton 20-L reel loaded with 80-lb test spectra. These are very smooth reels and work like a charm with umbrella rigs. My side rods are also 6 to 6.5 foot Preston-custom rods with the same Okuma reels and spectra line. Finally, my two upper side rods are seven-foot custom-built rods using Penn 340s with 80 pound test line. This array of rods and reels has handled many Rockfish over 40 inches that we catch in the early portion of the season on the Chesapeake. 

When it comes to all sizes of buck-tails, I make my own starting with both large and small heads being made with other members of our SMC/MSSA. Some of these early lures were designed and produced for me by John Theunissen. These heads have long-shank 8/0 to 10/0 hooks and are shaped in the following ways: 

  • Bullet shaped weighing anywhere from 3 to 8 ounces;

  • Round headed with room to insert large eyes; (2 to 6 ounces); and

  • “Ruby Lipped” shape, and again with room to insert large eyes.

Using nice quality deer tails, I tie my own buck-tails coating the final wrap with a plastic nail polish finish. They keep the lures in good shape and very clean.

I also have made several types of parachutes at various sizes and colors, but it is almost cheaper and certainly easier to buy them already made. I mainly use white and chartreuse colors. White, because “if it’s not white, it’s not right”. And Chartreuse, because “if it’s not chartreuse, it’s no use”. They work best and you can put white lures on one side of your boat and chartreuse on the other and see if there is any preference. Then, you can switch lures if necessary.

Trolling patterns: 
As stated before, we have all of our rods out in a “W” pattern, and in the Spring time, you want to be fishing your lures in the upper 20 feet of water. I usually start fishing in 40 feet of water and after putting out all of my lines, I will continue in an easterly direction going into much deeper water. We use an East-West trolling pattern going from 40 feet out to over 100 feet and turn back once again. Note at what depth you get a strike, it may tip you off as to what depth you should concentrate on to catch your fish. You should be aware of everything that is going on around you when trolling. If you see any birds, what kind are they? The regular sea-gulls will flock and work the surface of the water if the fish are feeding near the surface. However, in the early Spring you might notice larger birds called “Gannets”. These majestic birds have very keen eye sight and you should note how they are diving. If they are diving into the water from a medium height (around 20 feet above the water), that means that the bait is relatively shallow and your lighter rods have a good chance of catching fish. If, on the other hand, the Gannets are diving from way up in the sky, that means they are diving for bait fish that are down at least 20 feet, and your heavier lures have the better chance of hook-ups. .

Try to troll as slowly as possible. Using my GPS that measures speed over ground, I try to keep my speed around 2.3 to 2.7 mph. Look for baitfish on your depth sounder and you can weave to the right and left as you go over these baitfish. This will make your lures on one side of the boat to come up a little faster, and go down a little slower on the opposite side of the boat. As stated before, you want to stay under 3 mph if possible when Spring Fishing. 

Always remember to carry a good size landing net on your boat, and there are techniques for landing your fish head first. Keep a tight grip on the net and do not let it open up fully until you have the fish started into the net. If you encounter a big female striper that has not as yet spawned out, be conservation-minded and release her so she can complete her mission!

Always be careful out on the water, be safety conscious, and be sure you know where the life preservers are located at all times. Do not drink heavy liquors. If it is sunny, protect yourselves with sun-tan lotion SPF 45 or better to help ward off any form of skin cancers. 
Enjoy yourselves and tight lines! 

Tackle Talk  

Myths are a widely held but mistaken belief and misunderstandings are a failure to interpret something correctly. That sentence covers a lot of the misspoken words used to help recreational fishermen become “better catchers of fish.” At times I wonder where so much bad information about fishing comes from and how easily it is accepted. Even more surprising is why it isn’t challenged. Remember, just because someone says something doesn’t mean that it is correct. This seems to be especially true about fishing. Much bad information is passed on with, hopefully, good intention, but really not tried and tested for validity. Before accepting any information about fishing as “gospel”, please check it out for yourself before passing it to others. I recommend that you try any of the things in future columns you read and think will work for you, before telling others to try them. Saying so, let’s get started with some prevalent tackle talk.

Tandem Rigs (two lures on separate leaders and on one fishing line)
(printable version, click here)

I seldom use traditional tandem rigs when fishing, but when I do use them, I do not use the misnamed “three way swivel.” It is only a junction for three lines, and may turn a little, but never does it perform as “a swivel.” When using the conventional three way swivel and catching a Striper that spins, you usually end up with the two leader lines wrapped.. There is an item available where two swivels are joined with the loop of one between the loop and barrel of another that may work better, but I have never tried that arrangement. I found that bending a length of stainless steel wire ninety degrees, with a circle in the middle and circles on the ends, with snap swivels in all circles, performs a much better “three way swivel function” of keeping lines separated and twist free. Also, if your lines get wrapped, by unsnapping one line you can usually speed the unwrapping process.

I do, however, use a tandem rig that is not conventional. For some summer time fishing, I use an eighteen inch bar with a circle in the middle and with a circle on both ends, with snap swivel placed in all of the circles. From the end snap swivels I use equal length of one hundred pound test mono leaders of twelve to sixteen inches length. I suspend two “Storm Shad” lures, both either four or six inches long, and one black and green, the other with a greenish color, on the end with Duolock snaps. This allows me the ability to quickly change damaged lures or leaders while fishing. I normally pull six of these rigs at a time. If something works and catches Stripers I fish that type on all my lines that I currently use. 

Tandem Rig Fishing (printable version, click here)

Trophy Striper season usually means fishing in the upper part of the water column and maximizing the number of lures you use when trolling. The type and size of the prey that the Trophy Striper feeds on is about twelve inches long and the fish are both species of spawning shad (American and Hickory) and also includes any large menhaden (about twelve inches in length) that have entered the Bay. Planer boards will help you increase the number of lines you can use and allows keeping more lines in the upper part of the water column by extending the width of your boat. Most fishermen also try to keep their lures as far away from the boat noise as possible, as well as, closer to the surface. 

Tandem rigs (two lures each) are also used by many fishermen during this early season. The lengths of the two leader lines to the lure vary according to what users feel is necessary and usually are at least fifteen and twenty foot to the lures from their junction at a three way swivel. Many use a spoon (non weighted lure) for the top running lure and a weighted lead headed lure to run in the deeper position to give separation between the two lures. If you use two lead headed lures most likely they both will have an 8/0 jig hook and use an 8/0 trailer hook. Both are positioned to come out on the top of a nine inch soft plastic shad. The jig headed lures used usually have a minimum weight of three ounces to carry an 8/0 hook. To obtain separation of the two lures a bottom lure of six ounces is used and is needed to have, at best, a minimal separation of about one foot. Even then the bottom lure is running fifteen foot deep if you let out one hundred feet of forty pound test monofilament. Few fishing lines float as high as monofilament and most of the super composite lines with thin diameter would run nearer to twenty foot or more with that much weight at that distance.

There are a few 8/0 jig headed lures that are made with a “no weight” plastic head that you can purchase to run in the top position. However, by using a threaded twelve inch soft plastic shad with a 10/0 hook protruding out of the bottom of the shad you can obtain the length of a lead headed parachute with a nine inch soft plastic shad. If you use a jig head with a six inch soft plastic shad, you can obtain the same length when using a 9/0 hook threaded nine inch soft plastic shad. These “no weight” types of lures on the top of the tandem rig, used with a three ounce lead headed lure below, will allow you to keep the rig at about the four and five foot levels with forty pound mono out about one hundred feet. 

Why use a threaded shad (hook on the bottom)? Simply said, it will swim upright in the water because of the hooks weight and it will reduce pull downs, without catching a fish, to an absolute minimum. Think about the hook position on hard plastic trolling, casting, and even jigging lures. They all have hooks on the end or on the bottom or in both places, but never on the top. Most off shore soft plastic lures now have hooks on the bottom and/or the end. Most predator fish, which includes Strippers, attack from below their prey and stun their prey by mouthing it. They then release their prey and approach from its head to swallow it. Why? If swallowed tail first the prey’s dorsal fin(s) might get stuck in their throat and result in a starvation death for the predator if the prey cannot be disgorged. If a hook is located in the top of a lure, when it is attacked, the hook ends up facing out of the predator’s mouth initially. The predator’s path upwards will be altered by a sudden jerk sideways by the forward motion of your lure. Unless your lure is released very quickly and turns to an up right position, the lure will slip out of the predator’s mouth. And more important, your lure will move away, instead of being stunned and floating as a bait fish would. If the predator continues the attack and maneuvers to the head first approach to swallow your lure, your fishing line will deny the attempt. Also remember, at three miles per hour your boat and your lure is traveling almost four and one half feet per second. A lot has to happen very quickly during the initial part of the attack to catch the predator. When the hook is positioned on the bottom of the lure and is attacked the hook points into the mouth and as the lure slips it will be positioned to hook in the outer jaw, tongue, or the other jaw as it starts to slip out of the predator’s mouth. 

The threaded soft plastic shad is called a “naked shad” and as such is a very effective lure to use as a non-weighted fishing lure. The nine inch shad originally came with a slot in the bottom for threading. Another good reason is if you go fishing in Virginia you can use teaser rigs with all of your shad teasers threaded with a hook to increase the chance of a hookup. 

Hooks to use for threading and best results are size 10/0 for twelve inch soft plastic shad, 9/0 for nine inch shad and 5/0 for five and four inch shad.

Push a utility knife blade (a) into the bottom of the shad about two thirds of the way back to the tail. This action will reduce the possibility of tearing a slit in the shad when pulling the hook into the shad body. Actually, a tear does not stop Stripers from biting your lure, and even with the slit you make, a tear will happen occasionally. You could, instead of cutting a slit, just push the threading needle into the shad one half of the width of your hook’s gap between the shank and the point.

Tie or crimp a length of mono on a hook. Position the threading needle into the slit (b) no more than half of your hook’s width. Place the needle on a hard surface, with the tag end of the mono in the needle (c), and turn the shad upright. Gently push the shad down on the needle guiding it out of the front of the shad.

Pull the needle out of the shad and pull the hook into the shad (d). Stop pulling when the shad is in the “original” shape. Place a toothpick down from the top of the shad through the hook eye and to the bottom of the shad. The toothpick will help stabilize the hook. Cut the toothpick even with the top of the shad. Your “naked shad” lure is ready for you to use. 

Smaller shad can also be threaded with the hook on the bottom using the instructions above and an 8/0 saltwater hook is used for six inch shad and a 5/0 hook is used for five and four inch shad. Another way is to start the hook at the front, with the shank on the side of the shad and slide the shad on the hook until you reach 2/3’s of the way to the tail. Turn the hook point to exit out of the bottom of the shad. 

To increase the effectiveness of the naked shad lure you can add flash material, such as Flashabou or Krystal Flash (fly tying materials), by threading pieces through the shad with your needle.

You can use the threaded shads on teaser rigs and get good results, also.

It is safest to carry a few replacement “naked shad” instead of threading when on the water. Do you lure and line assembly on shore where it is safer. Why increase the chance of getting a hook, needle, or a cut in you hand while on board the boat, use the time for fishing, not rigging. 

Planer Boards (printable version, click here)

Planer boards help you keep more line near the surface. I have caught more Trophy Striper off my planer boards up high then deep in the water column. You can also use them effectively in the late fall season in the Bay if the large stripers return. They do not work well on Stripers that are less than thirty inches in length. The problem is that the release used to keep your fishing line on the planer line will not release for the smaller fish’s weight. Also, when the smaller fish are present, they are located deeper in the water column which requires more weight to reach them and creates the need for a tighter hold on your release mechanism. 

To construct a pair of planer boards that can carry up to four fishing lines, follow the instructions that follow. First cut a 1” or 2” x 6” x 8’ board in half. Using the directions below, create one planer board that is used on the starboard (right) side of a boat. When finished with the first planer, reverse the instructions to create a port (left) side planer. 

Locate the center of the board length and place a mark with a pencil (a). Using a compass and a pencil, draw a 90 degree cut line across the entire center of the width of the board. Check the saw blade position, it should be vertical (90 degrees) to the table top for this cut. Cut the board across at the center line mark. On both of the smaller boards draw a vertical and a horizontal line at the center of both boards. Draw a 60 degree cut line across the width of the board, crossing the middle mark. Tilt the saw blade 45 degrees and cut the board along the marked cut line, with the 60 degree tip to the left of the saw blade. Mark the other board with the 60 degree line across the board in the other direction. Cut the board with the 120 degree line to the left of the blade. If you follow the instructions above, you have the boards cut to make a left and right running planer board. If not, talk to someone how wants to make a pair and make both cuts the opposite of the way you made yours. That way you both will have a “matched pair.”

Next, place the two boards together as shown below (b). The top board is placed with two inches extending beyond the bottom board. Clamp the boards together before drilling the three holes shown. The hole to the front is drilled about three inches from the top and about 24 inches from the back of the board. The two rear holes are drilled about 2” from the back and from the top and bottom edges. Unclamp the planer boards. On the board that was in top position mark and then drill the series of three holes. Place a mark for the center hole 21 one inches from the back of the board and two and one half inches from the top of the board. Place the other two holes centers the same distance from the top and about inch between the centers from the center of the first mark. These holes allow you to adjust the running of the planer, if needed. Drill all the holes five sixteenths of an inch wide. 
Reverse the ends of the other planer board and drill the holes using the same instructions. 

To help preserve the wood and, more important, you should paint you boards with a bright and highly visible color. Use of a flag on each board will also help other fishing boats avoid your boards. If you do not make your boards highly visible, you are fooling your self by thinking others can always see them. Maryland may be issuing use restrictions requiring these two conditions, as well as, limiting the maximum length of the tow lines.

Paint all of the boards with a bright yellow or international orange paint (c). You want your planer boards to be recognized by other boats to avoid fishing line tangles. You can add a flag by simply drilling a three thirty second inch hole in the back outside board of each planer. Using a eighteen inch stainless steel welding bar as a pole and attaching a piece of yellow material (plastic or cloth) on the pole.

You now can assemble your planer boards (d). Place a 5/16” nut and washer about one inch and a half from one of the ends of a 12” threaded rod. Place the rod in the front hole of a painted board. Place another washer and nut on the same end. Do not have the rod extending out of the outside nut. Repeat the process with the other board. Place the two back rods the same way in the back of the boards. Now tighten the inside nuts of all the bars. Then place a 5/16” eye bolt in the second hole from the front of the series of three holes with nuts and bolts as on the long rod ends. Add one additional nut on the end of the eye bolt. His serves to lock the eye bolt from coming loose. Carry wrenches with you when you try out your planer boards. You can adjust the performance of your boards by moving the eye bolt. 

I’ve pulled in a few floating planer boards that were missing the eye bolt because a single nut vibrated loose. If you loose a planer board when fishing, you have to pull in all of your fishing lines. And also, the other planer board must be taken in. And, to make matter worse, a fish might bite and delay your returning to the area where you lost the planer. It will also be a rough day with wave action that shook the planer loose adding to the possibility that you will not find the planer board. That’s why I advocate a locking nut on the eye bolt. Also, one of the boards recovered had a short piece of a line that indicated someone failed to check the condition of the tow line. Do check your tow line’s condition for nicks and abrasions when retrieving your boards.

You can attach your fishing line to the planer board with number 32 rubber bands, as shown below (e). A Douloc snap is placed on the rubber band. The snap is pushed through the rubber band at least four times and then pull the snap closing the loop in the rubber band. The snap is opened and placed on the planer line. By letting your fishing line out, the snap slides on the planer line. You determine the amount of fishing line to let out visually. This practice works well and is simple to use.

Storage of the planer tow line (f) has been made easy by the introduction of a device called a “wheel.” Actually, it looks like a small tire turned inside out. It is about ten inches in diameter and made with black plastic. Drill a hole 3/8” in the high side near the edge. Cut a short piece of 3/8” poly tubing and place it in the hole. Tie a knot about one foot from the end of the tow line. Place the rope through the poly tubing. Slip a snap swivel on the end and whip the rope enclosing the snap swivel. Then whip another snap on the other end of your tow rope. Wrap the tow rope on the wheel. Finish the other tow line. Plan to attach your tow lines to high and sturdy metal rails or such other metal posts you have on your boat. The higher up is better to help keep your tow rope from dragging in the water. Simply take the snap swivel on the loose end and attached it to the eye bolt on your planer. The line will feed off the wheel and the planer will run out until the tow line is fully extended. Assign one person the task of wrapping the tow line back on the wheel while another pulls in the planer. Bass Pro Shop carries “wheels” in the Baltimore store. 

Puff Lure (printable version, click here)

The puff lure is one that once you start making and using it you will wonder why other lures are made the way they are. The final lure can be configured in many ways. Just to name a few, weighted or non-weighted, fat or slim appearance, using of a varied collection of heads, and using only one hook that you can replace or refinish if the original rusts. And, most important is that you will reduce/eliminate the number of pull downs that do not catch a fish. Enough hype, here is the construction details.

The puff is constructed on a tying post. The post is made from polypropylene tubing (a). The size of the center post is based on the amount of hair (thickness) you want. You will find applications for all three sizes of the polypropylene tubing posts and many uses of the puff. The four sizes of the tubing are one quarter inch, one half inch, three quarter inch, and one inch. The smaller size of the tubing (call the post) will fit in the next larger size (called a flange) and it will stop the hair from slipping off the post. The larger tubing size is the smaller part of the finished post. One quarter inch or less in length is used for the flange. When a large post is used, you can place smaller sizes of tubing inside the post to reduce the size of the hole, if necessary. Heat seal the flange end by using a propane torch and passing it through the flame.

Bucktail look -- To start tying on hair, overlap the flange and post about one inch or more with the hair (b). Wrap four or more times around the hair and about a half inch away from the flange. Reverse the wrap direction towards the flange making six wraps. Check the hair distribution around the flange. Move the hair if necessary to equally distribute it around the post. If unable, start over. Continue wrapping until you have about one quarter of an inch of wrapping. Slide the hair down to the flange. Make three wraps away from the flange. Apply super glue and let it dry. Then cut off the wrapping thread. Trim off the post at the end of the wrapping. Apply super glue on the exposed hair in the wrapping. Then cut off the heat sealed end to the length you want to make your puff.

Puff lure assembly -- Your puff lure is ready for assembly (c). The weighted bucktail puff lure is shown with all of the parts that you can use. You start with the threaded shad and put the pieces together. Place a locking bead on the mono right in front of the shad to keep the next group of parts from slipping down the mono and causing the shad to slip into an inappropriate position. (You can make your finished lure longer by moving the locking bead away from the shad). You can use an egg sinker, one to eight ounces, on the mono next for weight if desired. Then you can place one half of a plastic golf practice ball to make a fat lure presentation. Then you place on a puff. (You can stack two puffs together to meditate a mistake of bad hair distribution or if you did not use enough hair in the construction of a puff). You can also trim off the belly of the shad that is covered with the puff. This allows the hair to collapse when a fish strikes and helps assure a “hookup.”

Puff lure heads -- Finally you reach the position of the lure head. What to use? You are only limited by your imagination. Some of the types that I have used successfully are a large bead, a plastic pipe end cap, various sizes of plastic bottle tops, ends of small and large plastic Easter eggs, jig heads of various sizes and shapes with a hole thru the middle in lieu of a jig hook, and, most recently, plastic squid bodies (where you also can add up to three ounce egg sinkers). The predator and the bait both have eyes that look up and forward. When a large Striper attacks it starts below the prey, it cannot see the bait fish eyes nor can it be seen by the victim. You will attract more Stripers if you add reflective material to the puff, such as Krystal Flash or Flashabou, then eyes ever will. If you feel that you must have eyes, I suggest that you use the flat stick on type and save your self some money. By the way, how many fish have red eyes? I have never caught a fish that had other than black eyes. 

Daisy Chains -- A daisy chain is usually composed of three teasers spaced on a length of mono and used in front of a lure (d). Teasers can be a shaped piece of soft plastic attached with a small snap, spinner blades, artificial hair, or a combination of these items. The type of teaser used is dependent upon where the chain will be used. If used with a top unweighted lure on a tandem rig, the teaser is a puff which is not weighted and placed on the main line.

When used with a weighted lure in a tandem rig, each teaser is crimped to the main mono line with a short leader (e). You can also use a weighted Daisy Chain to provide a little more lure depth separation between lures if you use puffs with or without plastic. You can add weight under the last puff or distribute the weight under each using egg sinkers.

Note that active daisy chains (those with plastic teasers) will attract more fish than an inactive chain. I now use a single weighted lure on my planer board fishing lines with a puff daisy chain with plastic teasers instead of pulling tandem rigs. I feel the trade off of using active teasers offsets the need to use two lures to attract one Striper to bite. Plus the incident of fishing line wrap is reduced and, with no long leader to pull in by hand, you wind the Daisy Chain to the rod tip and net the fish.


Monthly Seminars, etc.

Chapter Success in MSSA 2016 Spring Rockfish Tournament

Commercial Fishing for Striped Bass on the Chesapeake (May 15, 2014)

Panel Discussion: “Getting Ready For the Spring Rockfish Season” (April 17, 2014)

Ken Preston's Seminar on the "Science of Rod Selection and Building" 


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