Fishing in the tropics is all about catching monsters, yes?
Well…. no. Not for me. I have done the whole monster madness thing, using huge heavy gear that needs someone of olympian endurance to use for hours on end, been there, and grew out of that. Nowadays, personally, I must say I get possibly even more fun out of prowling inner lagoon bommies and reef edges, looking for a wider range of fish….and frankly, better eating fish, than sticking to surf breaks on reef points targeting giant fish such as big GTs.
That is not to say big fish do not haunt the inner reefs….they do indeed, but as most of your fish are more in your under 10kg range, I have found that I can happily fish these areas with lighter gear, say 20lb braid casting sets, and using smaller surface lures. So, in this brief piece, I will do a review of four small surface lures, suitable for casting with 20lb spin gear, that I have found very effective.
These lures are in the 110-130mm range, so not small, but lures that are balanced nicely on lighter casting gear.
First of these is the Strike Pro Super Pop-R. a 13cm, 39gm lure, it has a good selection of colours, the standard red/white, blue silver and green yellow patterns, and takes fish regularly.
These are good little poppers, fairly rugged, not prone to gear failure. They cast well, and are suited to 20lb braid fishing very well.
The hardware is very good, have had no issues with split rings or hooks failing, something you have to watch, especially with these smaller lures. Fishing for saltwater fish really kills lures that are not built extra strong, and as many lures are made for the freshwater market….and frankly fresh water fish are sissies, often smaller lures will just pull apart of a normal saltwater fish. These lures do not.
It has a plastic body so it is very strong, and does not get chewed to pieces like balsa or polybalsa lures can do.
They do require a fairly quick retrieve, these are not a “blooper” popper, and will often dive and run subsurface for several seconds, not ideal. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a lure poppering nicely over some sweet, fishy looking patch, only to have the damn thing dive underwater, and despite your best efforts, run underwater for most of the way in to the boat….randomly and for no obvious reason. Makes ya go “Hmmmm”.
They are however still an effective lure that you can use all day easily, nice casting characteristics and well priced.
The Strike-Pro Super Pop-R, a fun lighter tackle lure.
The next lure is another Strike Pro product, the Tuna Candy. This is a 130mm lure, built of wood, with a similarly good colour range, but is a grade up from the lure above.
Although it is wood, and can get chewed to pieces by really good fish, it is both a heavier lure that casts better than the Pop-R, makes a way better splash, and whistles in better fish often. This is a lure that can be used around inner reef bommies but still give sterling service out on the reef edges looking for much larger fish.
The hardware is very solid and you can either “bloop” this popper to work it slowly far from the boat (my favorite) or if you crank it flat out, it runs like a demon, great bubble trail and a hell of a nice tight vibrating action.
from hard scrapping little bluefin trevally like this one, to….
…this Red Bass nailed a Strike Pro Tuna Candy, you can see the effects on the paint job of those teeth!
The next lure in this short review is another popper, the River to Sea Bubble-pop 130.
Great little lure this, in either the 130mm, my preference, or the smaller 110 size.
These cast like a bullet, they are well weighted to sail out a great distance, tail first, and you can do it all day.
Plastic lures, they have some awesome colours available, and they are not prone to leaking, splitting or pulling apart in a hurry. A very good little lure.
One grizzle perhaps would be that the eye is a tad small, it is hard to use these lures (this actually applies to all these poppers to tell the truth) with Genie clips, something I love using as you can quickly snap from one lure to another without having to cut and re-tie your traces every time.
The split rings and hooks are very good. Owner hooks are standard, and I like Owners. Not hugely strong but certainly very sharp, they do the job well enough for me, I have not lost any fish due to hooks straightening on any of these lures.
These also are a good, floating popper that gives a very nice splash when you Bloop it, but when cranked at speed, have a really good shimmying action, leaving a great bubble trail thanks to the little holes in the head I guess.
This is pretty much my default inshore popper as you can rely on it to cast and to work every time, unlike the Strike-Pro Pop-R, which can tend to torpedo on you.
The R2C Bubble-pop 130 nailed this trophy sized Mangrove Jack over an inner lagoon bommie.
One quibble I do have however with these poppers is that in a small wind chop, say 6 inch or so wavelets, if you are making the lure bloop, they do tend to tumble in the water, that can be a pain in the ass as this will often catch the tail hook on your trace, but this also happens with most of these smaller shorter lures, so you learn to live with it I guess. It certainly has not stopped me from regarding this as my go-to popper for inner lagoon or relatively light tackle work.
This Giant Trevally on the outer reef also nailed the Bubble pop. In this picture you can also see the Genie Clip I use to attach to my poppers to enable easy switching between lures. Never had one fail on me yet!
The last of the surface lures I want to talk about is not a popper, but a stick bait of sorts. Another R2C lure, it is the 110mm Wide Glide lure.
Mate, these are an awesome flat water lure. If there is any slight wave ripple, a surface popper with a good splash is best, but in glassy calm waters you will not find a more effective lure than this little hummdinger.
The wide glide comes in two sizes, the 110 being the smaller. A plastic lure, it is very strong, never had one fail or pull apart on me yet, also rigged with decent split rings and owner trebles, on some of the lures they even have feathers tied to the tail hook, which I like.
These are a hugely un-preposessing looking lure. They look odd, with their bulbous nose, and who in the hell thought up the horrible colour range for them needs a damn good kicking…well, from a tropical fisherman’s perspective anyhow. Instead of a hot baitfish blue silver with a flash of red, or any of the other great colour choices all other lures have, the Wideglides have ditchwater dull colours. No, not for these guys, they have the thrilling colours of black, matt grey, grey- matt blue-ish, brown and grey, and the colourful one of the range, the washed-out greeny-yellowy (my least favorite). Apparently, these are the Hot North American freshwater colours….but totally crap for tropical saltwater lures.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, the finish on the lures is unmatched, they have a deep, textured and epoxied finish on them that really does show off beautifully the totally unimpressive colours they use. They catch fish like crazy, but they never catch fishermen, and if you do not catch a fisherman first, they will never get the chance to catch a fish.
I think they have actually dropped this lure now, not because it is not a total fish killing machine, which it is, but because no-one ever wants to buy the darn things. That is why I have kinda stocked up on a couple of spares, so I always have a few handy….
Just a few spare Wideglides in my Man Cave…well, when I say “a few”, I mean like forty or so. That’s not too many is it? A couple I have even tried to prettify up a little with dollops of cheap fingernail polish….but it doesn’t really help much. Boring looking lures, yet deadly effective.
This is not the only problem with the wideglide however…with their weight-forward, bulbous nosed shape, they can be a true bastard to cast well. most of the time they will shoot out pretty well, but probably a quarter of the time they tumble thru the air, dropping their cast distance a bit, which is a pain.
They do not tend to snag up on their traces are other lures often tend to if they tumble on the cast, but they will drop 10 metres in distance, which is often a bugger.
However, their shape and swimming action does remedy this to a high degree, as these are very slow action lures, they really are a “twitch-an-wind” lure, you work the lure really quite slowly twitching the rod tip, pausing and taking up the slack, then twitching again.
This gives the lure a beautiful duck, dive and slow gliding action, and mate, it just rings all the dinner bells for everything that swims near a reef and is not Vegan. Even better, this means the lure is way out there, near the reef and far from the boat, in the maximum strike-zone, for a long, long time. This pays dividends in the hook up rate, I promise you.
They come is both a floating and slow sinking version, the sinking casting just a little better perhaps than the lighter floating lure, but the jury is still out as to which I find most successful. I lean towards the sinking lure being the more effective fish hooker, but a floating lure is a bit more fun as you can see it on the surface and any hits you do get are full on surface strikes. And of course they do not sink down into the damned coral, treble hooks make surprisingly effective anchors you know?
One of the biggest suckers for a wideglide would be Red Bass such as these. However, EVERYTHING will have a crack at a wideglide, Coral trout, Jobfish, Trevally, triggerfish, all sorts of weird and wonderfuls nail these awesome lures.
from good GTs like this(you have no idea how exhausted poor Rebecca was after landing this fish…on a light rod and 20lb line, it was at least twenty minutes before we finally landed the fish, a big ask for the Hamachi 7′ Nano Ultra Cast , and Becca was in no shape to hold the fish up herself!) to smaller but tastier reef dwellers, the wideglide just slays them all..
I mean, the larger 200mm Wideglides work as well, but such large lures are really for 30lb plus gear, not my preferred light 20lb tackle I use most these days.
….but Damn, those colours….this black one I had to spice up just a little…black and gold, the classic “toby” colours popular for trout lures in New Zealand, worked on this trevally.
So, that about does it for this little review of my preferred small surface lures for 20lb line. Other notable lures I would have happily mentioned would have been the smaller Halco popper, but I have no photos and seldom use that lure, even though it gives a great splash and has a very good action. Maybe next time….
Tight lines everyone.