I am a self-professed tackle junkie. I tend to carry way, way too much tackle with me on a trip. My current tackle bag is a “magnum” size and holds 12 of the largest Plano tackle trays. In my defense when I do come down to the glades I stay a week at a time and fish from the far back country all the way to the off shore wrecks and rock-piles, so I need to be prepared for anything we may want to target.
However, I do have a select group of lures that I always gravitate to and really could limit my tackle box to just these but I would never admit that to my wife.
Here is my list of my personal must haves:
• 3” Gulp Shrimp in New Penney or a 4” Gulp Swimming Mullet in pearl fished on a ¼ oz jig head. From December to April, I lean towards the shrimp but during the warmer months, I do better on the curly tailed mullet. This set up will catch almost every fish in the glades including big snook and tarpon. I always have this on a rod in my boat. Only downside is you have to remember to dunk them in the water every now and then or they turn into beef jerky and have to be cut off. Never leave them on the jig head out of the gulp juice overnight. At the end of the day, I just cut the whole jig off and drop the rigged jig and body back in the gulp liquid, ready to tie back on the next day. The 3” Gulp shrimp are also very good for redfish pushing up shallow onto the flats, you may have to go with very minimal weight by using just a bare hook in the bait and a split shot 18” up the line.
• MirroLure Mirrodine (17MR) or Rapala Twitch-n Rap in silver/black back. I love both these lures and I have often found the fish will prefer one over the other on any given day. I really feel like the Mirrodine represents a small pilchard and the Twitch-n-Rap represents a small finger mullet and that explains the preference. Both behave very similar in the water. The thing I love about them is they stay just under the water’s surface and rarely get hung since they stay just above the flooded timber along the coast. You can cast them into much nastier places than the gulp jigs. Snook, Reds, Small Tarpon, Trout, Jacks and Ladys all crush this lure. When I’m hunting for fish and covering water with the trolling motor, this is the lure I tend to throw since you can fish it pretty fast. The down side of course is the treble hooks so be careful when dealing with a thrashing fish. I’ plan to experiment with a single hook on them some this year and see if I can get the same action and hook ups. I’ve put too many of the trebles on these lures through my hands and legs.
• Rapala Skitter Walk in just about any color. This is my favorite topwater lure by a wide margin. The only downside to them is they are not durable at all. They call fish like crazy but they don’t hold up nearly as well as I would like.
• Various DOA Lures for tarpon. Depending on the time of year and what baitfish/shrimp are around, the DOA Big Fish Lure, Baitbuster, and Shrimp can all be deadly on Tarpon of all sizes in the dark waters of the Glades. Remember tarpon are lazy so slow and steady retrieves, swinging with the current are usually a great approach.
There are plenty of other lures I carry that work quite well like gold spoons, weedless soft plastic jerk baits, buck tail jigs…etc. But if I ever decide to carry a more rational size tackle box, I really feel like I could limit it to the lures listed above.