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If you had to choose, which three lures would you pick?

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Jun 11, 2021

Capt. George Tunison

How many lures is too many and if you are only allowed three onboard, which ones?

Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask about too many lures since I have boxes upon boxes of them: snook lures, musky lures, bass, tarpon and redfish lures, jig boxes, redfish and king-fish spoon boxes, overstuffed fly boxes containing flies for bluegill to tarpon and sailfish, as well as several boxes of soft plastics and even a small collection of fish-spearing decoys. Each year I decorate my Christmas tree with various lures and yes, maybe I have a problem but it’s OK, although I’m running out of space.

I also carry a small tackle store’s worth of equipment onboard with the theory being that one never knows what you’ll run into while on the water, although I’m probably still overdoing it.

The question remains, if allowed to pick only three lure styles for a day’s inshore/flats tournament/back country guided fishing trip in Southwest Florida, which three would I choose, or, what three should be in every beginner’s inshore tackle box?

After fishing here for close to 25 years, I would definitely have a top-water plug onboard. They cast far, call fish in from long distances and trip the trigger of big predators that prey on the weak or crippled. They usually have internal sound as well as creating quite a disturbance on the surface and, flash light and color as they move. Best used early, late or at night in 1 to 5 feet of water.

Second choice would go to the jig. Be it natural hair or a soft plastic paddle tail grub, jigs catch everything large and small. They cast relatively far and can be used to fish the water column from top to bottom, quickly or slowly. Plastic paddle tails produce more sound than a hair jig which is a consideration when fishing in off-colored water and also come in a huge choice of colors. Use them 24/7, day or night.

My third selection would be a simple, old-fashioned spoon. They cast far making them excellent search lures for most inshore species. They produce a strong flash and underwater vibrations calling in fish, and can also be fished from top to bottom, semi-quickly or retrieved with a slow wobbling flash, and everything eats them.

If forced to pick only one of these three, it would be a tough choice between the jig and spoon. In the end I would probably end up with a gold spoon on the end of my line. This is a fool proof, shallow water, fish catching machine. Cast it out, reel it in, and cover water.

Reel in a spoon too fast and it spins unnaturally, meaning no bites. A medium retrieve causing the lure to swing side to side and flash is the deal. In off-colored or tannin-stained waters, gold is the color, while chrome is a better choice nearer the Gulf.

Set up a dedicated spoon outfit. Choose a 7.5 to 8-foot medium action rod with a light tip, then add a smooth reel filled with 10 to 15-pound test braided line and a 36-inch or longer fluorocarbon leader. For this rig use, a SPRO swivel between your main line and leader to cut down on line twist. Using a large, cheap, black swivel is a no-no. The smallest SPRO swivel is the tiny 35-pound test model which is the same physical size as a back to back Uni-knot and, they don’t break.

You can cast a spoon a country mile with this long rod rig, allowing more potential customers to see and hopefully eat it on the way back to the boat. At the end of the day you’ve covered 25-30% more water than other anglers.

Always keep your spoons bright and flashy by giving them a finger polish with your favorite toothpaste, then a good rinse and dry.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.

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