Getting Started: Catching Redfish with a Spoon
By: J. Dwayne Smith
Team Padrick and Smith
“The Redfish Guys”
When Team Padrick and Smith, “The Redfish Guys”, had the idea of beginning The Getting Started Series of articles, our goal was to help the upstart inshore angler save some time and money by giving advice on tackle, gear, fishing techniques, etc. In this article, my objective is to get you to fish a spoon by explaining the benefits and ease of fishing it. In the marsh, on grass bed fishing potholes, or stalking a shallow sand or mud flat, a spoon is an excellent lure choice for both the novice and experienced angler.
About Team Padrick and Smith:
Lee wrote our biography for our website: “Lee Padrick & Dwayne Smith share a lifelong passion for fishing the shallow waters of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. Lee and Dwayne are accomplished light tackle fishermen who enjoy sharing their experience and knowledge of the Crystal Coast with anglers of all skill levels. They’ve spent countless hours studying the saltwater flats to scout desired game fish and have gained a great understanding of the fish habitat and their predatory habits. They are active, enthusiastic tournament competitors who support catch-and-release fishing and are committed to preservation and conservation of coastal resources. Their passion for, and approach to, shallow water angling is infectious and contagious.” All I can add to his statement is that the time spent on the water pre-fishing for tournaments or just fun fishing with Lee and other friends and family have bought years of enjoyment and an outlet to my competitive nature.
Why a spoon?
I have five reasons why I choose to fish a spoon the majority of the time that I’m stalking the schools of redfish up and down the Crystal Coast of North Carolina.
Reason #1 – a good quality spoon wobbles as it is being pulled through the water column. A wobbling spoon creates flash, and that is the true key to an effective subsurface lure. If you have ever witnessed an injured mullet or any dying bait fish, they usually roll on their side and pulse or flicker. A spoon perfectly mimics this death pulse/flicker, consequently, making it an excellent choice for any predatory inshore fish.
Reason #2 – a spoon covers a lot of water. I prefer to throw spoons that weigh between 7/16 oz. and 9/16 oz. At these weights, it will cut through the wind and provide me with the ability to make long accurate casts. Long on target, accurate casts translate to a lure that is in the strike zone longer and keeps the angler farther off the marsh bank, hence, decreasing the probability of spooking fish.
Reason #3 –a spoon cuts down on wrist fatigue. A spoon is a cast and retrieve lure. It requires no special wrist action from an angler like a topwater or jig does. When prefishing for tournaments, long hours on the water are a necessity. Any lure that cuts down on wrist fatigue helps angler comfort, resulting in more productive time spent on the water.
Reason #4 – a spoon enters the water with a small splash. A small splash means little entry noise to spook fish. Most inshore guys and girls dream of fishing schools of unpressured reds. But, the reality of it is that finding a school of fish that is unpressured is a challenge, to say the least. When you do have the opportunity to fish a school, they are probably on full alert because of fishing pressure. I have found that throwing a spoon that displaces as little water as possible when entering the water allows me to catch a couple of additional fish out of that pressured school.
Reason #5 – ease of de-hooking caught reds. A spoon just flat out catches fish! I can catch and release as many reds as possible while searching for that perfect 27”er out of a school on tournament day without too much trouble getting them out of a net. It’s a rarity that a red becomes “deep hooked” by a spoon, because the lure is moving when the strike occurs. Ninety-nine and 99/100’s of the time, the red will be perfectly hooked in the side of the mouth, and de-hooking it is a breeze. Rarely is a set of pliers required to remove the hook, and the net will seldom become intwined with the lure. This time saved wrangling a netted red means more time spent casting for the next and hopefully perfect 27”, 8 lb tournament winning red.
Which spoon should you buy?
A predator is a predator, whether it is a lion on the Serengeti or a redfish in the marsh. A predator must kill to live. My advice is to appeal to as many of its predatory senses as possible. A predator relies on its ability to see, hear, and smell in order to evaluate what prey animal will be its next meal. Its goal at the top of the food chain is to expend as little energy as possible to get a meal. So make the spoon look like injured prey. Any internet search or visit to a local tackle store will provide you with a lot of spoon options. However, I choose the Strike Pro Rattle spoon in gold or silver with some Pro Cure Mullet Fish Attractant added. That’s all three of the predatory senses met at one time. That’s why I’m so confident fishing a Gold Strike Pro spoon.
Rigging a spoon the Team Patrick and Smith way:
We attach split rings to our spoons. I suggest that you purchase a pair of split ring pliers to help attach the split ring to the spoon. Again, using the split ring pliers, we attach a swivel to the split ring. Then we tie the swivel with a Palomar knot to 18 – 24″ of 20 lbs. fluorocarbon leader. Then the leader is tied with a Red Phillips knot to 10-15 lbs. Fins Windtamer Braid. The swivel is a necessity because of the lifelike wounded bait fish wobble of the spoon will cause line twist. The swivel will eliminate most of the twist, consequently, lowering the probability of wind knots. We prefer braid over mono but that is a possible topic of another Getting Started article.
There are many rod and reel combinations that will cast a spoon. However, maximizing casting distance is the name of the game, so a 7 1/2′ Powell “Red” medium heavy spinning rod or an 8′ Tsunami Classic medium spinning rod is my preference. I match these rods with Shimano 3000 or 4000 Stradic spinning reels spooled with the previously mentioned Fins braid. Remember, long casting distance equals higher strike probabilities and lower odds of spooking fish.
Lee has a great quote: “The best lure to throw is always the one that you have the most confidence in.” That is exactly why I choose a spoon; I feel that at any moment my next redfish strike will come. On tournament day, I have two rods rigged with spoons, just in case I lose one. The simplicity of the spoon is its brilliance. I challenge anyone to find a lure that is as easy to learn to fish with and as effective as a spoon. Please take a moment to visit Team Patrick and Smith’s website www.TheRedfishGuys.com or on Facebook keyword: The Redfish Guys.