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Best Lures for Roosterfish: The Ultimate Guide

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The Roosterfish (nemtistius pectorals) is a fascinating species of fish. Visually it is very attractive, with beautiful colors and an impressive “Mohawk” or rooster-shaped comb on its back. What appears to be a “Mohawk” is actually its dorsal fin which consists of seven dorsal spines. So what are the best lures for Roosterfish?

Glad you asked! In this article, we’ll share our top 3 best lures for Roosterfish. These lures have caught us more Roosterfish than any others.

Let’s get started.

Top 3 Best Lures for Roosterfish

1. Thorn GT Popper Saltwater Surface Plug

The Thorn GT Popper Saltwater Surface plug is a great lure to target Roosterfish. The appearance design is also effective for targeting Snapper, Blackfin Tuna, Kingfish, Skipjack Tuna, GT, and Tuna. This lure is hand-made from wood and comes rigged with 2 x durable, carbon steel 4/0 treble hooks.

It features a strong wire and swivel system. This allows you to connect the popper directly to your line. This also allows for perfect rotation and reduces thrown hooks. The Thorn GT Saltwater Surface Plug weighs in at 115 g and has a length of 180mm (7-inch). It is offered in a beautifully painted pink-yellow combination.

2. Mxeol Little Neck Bottle Wooden Popper Floating Lures

The Mxeol Little Bottle Wooden Popper Floating Lures are notorious for catching Roosterfish. The lures can be fished off-shore, as well as in the surf. They can be used to target Roosterfish, Mahi-Mahi, blues, Tuna, and weakfish. The Mxeol Little Bottle Wooden Popper Floating Lure is made from premium wood has a length of 5.5 inches (140mm) and a weight of 2.1 oz (60g).

It offers a floating, splashing action with long casting capabilities. This lure features a one-piece, End-End SS wire construction, a heavy-duty swivel, and 300lb run-through wire. This heavy-duty lure comes standard with 2 x 3/0 saltwater-grade X5 high-quality hooks.

It is offered in 6 vibrant colors, including White, Green-Black, blue-black, yellow-white, pink-blue, and green-white. The Mxeol Little Neck Bottle Wooden Popper Floating Lure has been designed to imitate an injured baitfish and offers a realistic, erratic swimming action.

3. Bomber Lures Badonk-A-Donk Topwater Fishing Lure

This Bomber Lures Badonk-A-Donk Topwater Fishing Lure is visually appealing to both angler and fish. It offers bright, colorful patterns in the form of a hologram. These patterns offer multi-angle light reflection in the water. The Bomber Lures Badonk-A-Donk Topwater Fishing Lure features realistic 3-D eyes and can be used for Saltwater or Freshwater.

This lure features a unique concave mouth, which disturbs the water to attract fish. It offers a realistic swimming action, and the evenly weighted rattle chamber provides long-casting regardless of the conditions. The Bomber Lures Badonk-A-Donk Topwater Fishing Lure weighs 9.5 g, has a length of 7.2 cm, and comes rigged with sharp, durable VMC treble hooks.

What Are Roosterfish?

These dorsal spines are long and threadlike and gently curve back towards the tail. The dorsal fin only stands erect when the Roosterfish feels excited or threatened. Another interesting feature of the Roosterfish is the arrangement of its ears. The swim bladder makes contact with the inner ear by penetrating the brain through the large foramina. 

The swim bladder assists in amplifying sounds. The Roosterfish is a prized game fish and extremely hard fighting. They can reach a weight of up to 100 lb’s (45kg) and a length of up to 4 ft (1.2m). They are generally found in Panama, Costa Rica (like Rainbow Bass), Mexico, and in the Pacific, from Peru to Baja California. Roosterfish feed mainly on other smaller fish, which exist within their habitat. 

They enjoy feeding on Blue Runners, Sardines, mullet, and small Bonito. The feeding pattern suggests that they actively pursue their prey and seem to herd the bait towards the beach or structure.

How Do You Catch Roosterfish?

Top fishing baits

When targeting Roosterfish, there are two main ways to catch them.

Trolling for Roosterfish

When targeting Roosterfish, trolling seems to be the most effective method. There are numerous styles of plugs, lures, and spoons that can be used. Roosterfish are considered in-shore predatory fish and can be targeted just behind the backline and in the surf. They generally feed on the surface, so a topwater lure or plug is a must. Change colors depending on the weather conditions. When trolling for Roosterfish, it is advisable to periodically check your line and leader for algae or dirt build-up.

Surf Casting for Roosterfish

Roosterfish can be found at the outer ledges, around 100-150 yards off-shore. They usually hang around this mark but do at times come in closer. When the Roosterfish come into shallower water (and it’s only for short periods), they are generally feeding aggressively. Most lures, spoons, and even flies will be effective at this point, and the Roosterfish will be well within casting distance.

Roosterfish lures should be fished by rapidly skipping the lure on the surface while retrieving. Roosterfish have excellent eyesight, so don’t stop or slow down your retrieval. Once they get a good look at your lure, they will turn away. When the Roosterfish are back to the 150 yards mark, only experienced anglers will be able to get their bait out to them. Choosing the correct lure is vital, as aerodynamics is your best friend when trying to get so deep. Roosterfish will often follow your bait, sometimes right up to your feet.

Live bait can be extremely effective when targeting Roosterfish, significantly larger Roosterfish. There are numerous live baits that you can try. Bonito, Mullet, and Blue Runners are the most popular. Live baits should always be rigged with a circle hook.

Top Tip: Large Roosterfish have enormous mouths and can easily swallow a large Bonito, Blue Runner, or Mullet. Be sure to use a proper surf fishing rod as well!

Are Rooster Fish Good to Eat?

A highly prized and sought-after game fish, the Roosterfish leaves its critics divided. Some consider it a good eating fish, and some think it also tastes awful and religiously throws them back. The meat is relatively versatile, and there are many ways to prepare the fish.

Are Rooster Fish Endangered?

Thankfully the Roosterfish is not on any endangered species list. They show zero signs of being overfished, and populations are looking healthy. Most national and state governments have relatively loose fishing restrictions, while some don’t have any.

How Do You Clean Roosterfish?

Cleaning a Roosterfish is relatively simple:

  • Ensure that your filleting knife is sharp and there is fresh water available
  • Place Roosterfish on a clean flat surface
  • Grab the tail with your weaker hand. A make an incision along the belly that runs from behind the gill down to the anal fin
  • When making the incision run the blade until you feel the blade touch against the spine
  • Remove the intestines and wash thoroughly

Tasty Rooster Fish Recipes

Grilled Spicy Roosterfish

  • 4 x fresh Roosterfish Fillets
  • 1 x small piece of ginger
  • 2 x tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ x onion cubed
  • 1 x clove garlic
  • ½ x teaspoon salt
  • 12 x tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ x cup freshly chopped coriander


  • 1 ½ x tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1 x tsp red chili powder
  • 1 ½ x teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 ½ x tsp turmeric powder


  • Make numerous diagonal cuts on the surface of the Roosterfish fillets
  • Place ginger, garlic, and cubed onion in a blender
  • Place lemon juice and salt on both sides of each Roosterfish fillet
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the oil, spices with the onion paste and mix thoroughly
  • Coat each Roosterfish fillet generously
  • Place the fillets in an airtight container and put the container in the fridge for one hour
  • Heat a medium-sized to medium heat and cook the Roosterfish fillets for 3 minutes on each side. Do not overcook
  • Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve

You can also use this recipe if you want to bake your fish.

  • Using the same ingredients and method preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius
  • Lightly coat a medium-sized baking tray with extra virgin olive oil
  • Place the Roosterfish fillets on the baking tray and cook for 30 min

Roosterfish with an Asian Twist

Roosterfish swimming away underwater
  • 2 x Roosterfish Fillets
  • 1 x bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 x limes sliced
  • 1 x bunch green onion sliced


  • 1 x tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 x tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1/3 x cup soy sauce
  • Dehydrated red chili flakes


  • Bring a medium-sized skillet to a medium heat
  • Lightly coat the Roosterfish fillets with oil
  • Place lime and freshly chopped cilantro inside the fish cavity
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine chili flakes, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and soy sauce and mix thoroughly
  • Place the Roosterfish fillets on the skillet and cook with the lid closed for 6-8 minutes on each side
  • Serve with sauce and garnish with green onion


Roosterfish are incredibly beautiful animals, with vibrant colors and a funky Mohawk. They are in-shore feeders and can be targeted just behind the backline and in the surf. When Roosterfish are aggressively feeding, they will come closer to shore looking for schooling baitfish.

These short bursts of vigorous feeding also allow surf or shore fisherman an opportunity to have a crack. There are numerous ways to target these wonderful fish. They can be caught with poppers, spoons, topwater lures, and fly. Roosterfish have incredible eyesight.

The best way to target Roosterfish is by using a surf fishing reel that allows for a speedy retrieval and simultaneously skidding your lure on the surface. Some really enjoy the taste of Roosterfish, while some don’t, but it certainly is edible. We hope you enjoyed this article on the best lures for Roosterfish.

Happy Hunting!


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