Best Halibut Lures: Halibut Fishing 101
If you’ve ever taken an interest in halibut fishing, then you’ve probably heard the rumor that they’re like pulling up a big tire. But how many of these people describing them as a tire have actually caught one? In our experience catching a halibut can be exhilarating. Halibut make runs just like any other fish, and grow to be immense. So what are the best halibut lures?
Lucky for you, we have many avid halibut fishermen in our network that were willing to share their best halibut lures with us. In this article, we’ll first go over the best halibut lures for jigging as well as for trolling (yes you can troll for halibut!). We’ll also spend some time talking about the best kind of bait to use for halibut, as well as some general tips to improve your halibut hook up rate. Let’s dive in!
Best Halibut Lures for Jigging
The most common way to fish for halibut is to jig for them. Many different types of lures can work when jigging for halibut, but the ones below are our secret weapons. These lures will entice even the most finicky halibut to take a swipe.
The Sanddab 10″ Real Fish Jig is our top choice for best halibut lure for many reasons, but mostly because it catches the most fish. Pair it with a 3-ounce jig head and you’ll be ready for any size halibut that comes your way. We’ve caught 15 halibut and 150 halibut with this lure. It deserves a spot in every halibut fishermen’s tacklebox.
After the Sanddab 10″ Real Fish Jig, the next lure that gets the most halibut bites is the Lighthouse Lures 9″ Mega Bite Swim Tail Jig. The Lighthouse Lures 9″ Mega Bite Swim Tail Jig works wonder when looking for a more active jig presentation. These swim tail jigs imitate a wounded baitfish when bounced off the bottom and prove irresistible to hungry halibut. Another great choice for artificial halibut lures.
If you’re a salmon fisherman, the Point Wilson Dart Herring Jig might be familiar to you. It’s one of our favorites for king salmon fishing, and it also works great for halibut. Fish it right off the bottom the same way you would for salmon. Jerk it up several feet then let it settle back down to the bottom. Works like a charm.
Best Halibut Lures for Trolling
If you’re fishing for halibut in southern halibut territory like in northern California, then we recommend trolling for halibut. This is a favorite technique in the Bay Area and can work wonders when fishing for smaller “chicken” halibut. Much like trolling for grouper, trolling for halibut allows you to cover more area in a shorter period of time. Also smaller halibut love to hunt in shallower waters. We’ve caught them in water as shallow as 10 feet! Check out the best halibut lures for trolling below.
The Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver Trolling Lure is a great option when trolling for halibut as it’s realistic 3D eyes mimic a herring or other baitfish that halibut love to prey on. If you’re trolling in relatively shallow water for halibut, the Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver Trolling Lure’s 13-foot diving depth is perfect. It’s our favorite when trolling for halibut in bays and coastal waters.
If you want to troll a bit deeper, we recommend using the Rapala X-Rap Magnum Trolling Lure. The Rapala X-Rap Magnum Trolling Lure can dive up to 30 feet deep, and when paired with a ball weight even deeper. This makes it perfect when trolling for halibut offshore. The X-Rap has been a trolling favorite for years and works well for many different species of fish besides just halibut. It definitely deserves a spot in your tackle box.
Best Halibut Bait
Now that you know what the best halibut lures are, let’s spend some time talking about the best halibut bait. Another very common way to fish for halibut is to use a halibut rig with some cut bait. Let’s go over our favorite cut baits to use for halibut.
- Salmon bellies. Salmon bellies are by far the best halibut bait in our experience. The fatty meat below the pelvic fins has many nutrients that halibut find irresistible. It also has a stronger smell and flavor which helps attract them. Since this meat isn’t particularly enjoyable for us to eat, cut it off when cleaning your next salmon and save it for halibut fishing.
- Salmon heads. After salmon bellies, we like to use salmon heads. Salmon heads are great because they have lots of cartilage and structure to hold your hook in place. Smaller coho salmon or pink salmon heads make the best halibut bait.
- Octopus. Another great halibut bait to try is octopus legs. Octopus works well for halibut because it is tough and hard for fish to eat without getting hooked. Buy some tentacles at your local bait shop or grocery store.
- Herring. Herring is probably the most common halibut bait, but we list it last because there are many reasons it makes for weak halibut bait. Halibut love eating herring, but unfortunately, so do many other kinds of fish (including dogfish and rays). You’ll most likely hook into something else before you can find a halibut. Another reason herring isn’t as good as the other baits we listed is because it is soft and will fall off the hook easily.
Halibut Fishing Tips
Before we part ways, we wanted to go over several halibut fishing tips and tricks that help us catch more fish. Follow these tips and you’ll end up landing more halibut. It’s as simple as that!
- Use a chum bag. When jigging for halibut, anchor your boat and throw a chum bait in the water. This serves two purposes: attracting any nearby halibut to your location with the smell, and giving them time to swim over. Use a gunny sack or grass bag full of leftover bait from the previous day, or guts of any fish you cleaned recently. Don’t use rotten fish, halibut are predators, not garbage bags. You can also make your chum more enticing by adding extra scents such as liquid krill.
- If you’re using herring as bait, filet it. Fileted fish release more scent into the water and give you two baits for the price of one. You’ll end up going through just as many hookups to random fish, but have twice as much bait.
- Be patient when you feel a bite. Halibut are slow eaters. When you feel one take your lure, let them eat it for a few seconds before setting the hook. You want them to get the bait deep inside their mouth before you yank on it.
- Sharpen your hooks. Since the hooks you’re using for halibut are usually quite large, it is extra important that they are sharp. We like to sharpen our hooks the night before every trip out to maximize our chances of halibut hookups.
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Picking out the best halibut lure can be difficult if you’ve never gone before. Lucky for you, many of Finn’s friends go halibut fishing every year. We hope after reading this article you’ll be prepared with not only the best halibut lures but with some extra knowledge on how to halibut fish. Catch a “barn door” halibut using one of our recommended lures? Let us know about it in the comments below.