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Some of my fondest memories growing up are pier fishing for coho salmon in the Puget Sound. My dad would take me after he got off work and we’d cast off a pier near our house. Much to my surprise, the first time we went out I hooked into a 10 lb coho salmon. Ever since then, pier fishing has a special place in my heart. It’s been many years since then, and I’ve learned a lot about which pier fishing lures are best. So what are the best pier fishing lures?
The best pier fishing lures depend on the type of fish you’re fishing for as well as how deep the water is close to the pier. In this article, we’ll go over the best pier fishing lures depending on what kind of fish you’re trying to catch as well as your favorite technique. We’ll also quickly cover what a solid pier fishing tackle setup is, and some general pier fishing tips. Let’s get started!
The Best Pier Fishing Lures
As we mentioned above, some of these pier fishing lures will be better for certain species of saltwater fish than others. We ranked them by how many fish we’ve caught with them as well as their application across many different species of fish. Basically, these are the pier fishing lures we always want to have in our tackle box.
A time tested classic, your pier fishing tackle box isn’t complete without an ACME Kastmaster Spoon. The Kastmaster gets its name from its ability to cast farther than many other types of lures, which is crucial when you’re fishing from a pier. It comes in many different colors and sizes depending on the size of fish you’re going for. We like using the Kastmaster for mackerel, king salmon, coho salmon, halibut, bluefish, snook, striped bass, and more! You can’t really go wrong with this one.
A close second for best pier fishing lures after the Kastmaster spoon is the SPRO bucktail jig. Bucktail jigs are a favorite of redfish, snook, black drum, bluefish, California halibut, and more. Our favorite colors to use are the white and red as well as the chartreuse. Bucktail jigs are a great option for both shallow water piers and deep water piers as you can jig them vertically for deep water and cast them in shallower water.
When it comes to topwater lures, Yo-Zuri can’t be beaten. And the Yo-Zuri 3D Popper is as good as it gets for pier fishing. It’s a favorite of striped bass, redfish, tarpon, mackerel, kingfish, and pretty much any other predatory warm-water fish. The Yo-Zuri 3D Popper works well in all colors we’ve tried and is one of our go-to pier fishing lures – especially during spawning or mullet run seasons. Bust it out when predatory fish are feeding or feeling aggressive.
As far as spinners go, it will be hard to find a better spinner than the Blue Fox Vibrax. It’s the best spinning pier fishing lures and is a great choice for many different saltwater species. Coho salmon, king salmon, bluefish, halibut – they all love biting a frantic Blue Fox Vibrax. It’s a lure that we rarely leave the house without.
Another pier fishing favorite is the JOHNCOO 3D Shad Swimbait. The JOHNCOO 3D Shad Swimbait is one of the best pier fishing lures, especially when there is heavy cover close to the pier you’re fishing it. The added flexibility of the swimbait and streamlined single hook prevent getting snagged easily and wasting time. We really like using the JOHNCOO 3D Shad Swimbait for snook, redfish, black drum, and striped bass.
When it comes to using cut bait while pier fishing, your best option is to use a fish finder rig. We’ve written up a whole article on how to make and fish the fish finder rig, so check it out if you want a more detailed description. The fish finder rig works well for pretty much all kinds of predatory fish, from striped bass to grouper. Just adjust the size of the hook, leader strength, and the type of bait you use to whatever fish you’re going for.
How to Pick a Pier Fishing Lure
Now that you know what the best pier fishing lures are, how do you pick the right one for what you’re fishing for? Follow our recommendations on fish species, but also consider the following tips if you’re not sure.
- Make sure the lure is saltwater rated. Saltwater is extremely corrosive; you should only use lures that were designed to be used in saltwater when pier fishing. After you’re done fishing, rinse your lures and other fishing tackle down with a hose to limit corrosion and oxidation. You can usually find a boat cleaning station near the boat ramp.
- Check the type of action. Think about the type of action you’re going for when picking out a lure for pier fishing. Are the fish feeding on baitfish at the top of the water column? Use a topwater lure. Are they hanging out near cover on the bottom? A jig is a better choice.
- Look at the color of the lure. Depending on the visibility you’ll want to adjust the color of pier fishing lure you use. On lower visibility days, use brighter colors like white and pink. On high visibility days, try using more muted colors like green and brown.
General Pier Fishing Tips
Before we conclude I wanted to share a few pier fishing tips that have helped me and my friends catch more fish over the years. Keep these in mind before you plan your next trip.
- Pick your pier wisely. Most fishermen think that long piers with access to deep water are better than short piers in the shallows. But what really matters is which pier has fish. Fish tend to hang out where their food hangs out, and many times this is in shallower water near rocks or other underwater covers. So before you go to the long pier with deep water, check to see if there is any cover nearby that will attract baitfish.
- Time your fishing trip with the tides. In general, the incoming tide is the most favorable time to fish from piers. This switches, however, during high-action seasons like springtime. Large predatory fish wait for the smaller fish to be swept out and pounce.
- Know the local regulations. Be sure to check up on the local regulations for which fish you can keep and what sizes are legal. More often than not there will be a Fish and Wildlife department employee on the pier checking in with everyone fishing.
- Sharpen your hooks! This is probably the most common mistake amateurs make. Saltwater is highly corrosive and will dull new hooks quickly. Before you head out, sharpen all of your used hooks with sandpaper to ensure they’re ready for action.
Fishing from piers can be a blast, especially for fishermen not looking to make the investment of time and money in a boat. Go get yourself a solid pier fishing rod, and head to the nearest pier. If you use the correct lure setup, you can catch just as many big fish as you would out on the open water. We love fishing for Spanish mackerel from piers using a simple bubble rig. I hope after reading this article, you now know what the best pier fishing lures are and what species to use them with. End up catching a monster fish from your local pier? Let us know about it in the comments below.