CaryGreene

SPOOKS, GLIDERS & STICK BAITS SPECTACULAR: CALLING ALL PLUG BUILDERS..

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Loving these MD Sandeels. Too bad they are discontinued.  Ocean Lures made one similar but same thing with them, also discontinued. 

 

 

MD sandeels.jpeg

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4 hours ago, VitaminDee said:

Loving these MD Sandeels. Too bad they are discontinued.  Ocean Lures made one similar but same thing with them, also discontinued. 

 

 

MD sandeels.jpeg

You might not be out of luck, VitD.

 

I think that Micah Dean Woodturning is still making plugs in Gloucester, MA.

 

micahdean    dot   com

 

 

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Posted (edited)

On 11/17/2020 at 10:51 AM, MontclairDave said:

No love for RM Jigsmith? A spook-type lure that casts a mile. No rattle so there’s that. And I haven’t caught shyte on it yet because it’s only been in my bag for a month. But man it has some sweet action. I work it a bit like a pencil popper. 

The Jigsmith is baller. Beautifully made plug like all of RM Smith plugs are. For those that haven't seen these plugs they are some of the nicest paint job masterpieces on the market. The Jigsmith is a work of art. Literally. I mean, that's what they are. They are fancy, expensive art pieces. They also last and a couple of them in your bag would  certainly boost your confidence. 

 

Speaking of works of art, there's a lot of really nice custom spooks out there. we are learning from some of the greatest plug builders of our generation right now, in the pages of this thread. 

 

NorCalKat stepped in and gave us some phenomenal info. Hopefully, Mike's Custom Plugs, RM Smith, AfterHours & others will chime in. There is a ton more to talk about here.

 

Again calling all plug builders. Mayday, mayday, mayday. 

 

Come in. This is London calling.

 

 

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning
I live by the river

Edited by CaryGreene

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On 11/16/2020 at 5:03 PM, norcalkat said:

Ill have to check them out.  I switched out the power handles on the hg and put the double handles off a regular tranx 300.  Reason i did that because making a hard cast sometimes the inertia of your cast would engage the spool and Snap!  I sometimes cast $100-200 baits and cant have that happening lol 

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Can't show the bait... But that's the standard "gauge" handle... The new one is beefier /thicker aluminum.. 

The knobs though are far and away my favorites.. 

Gomexus sent me freebies.. But that was weeks and I year after buying a bunch of their stuff. 

My biggest gripe... Knob bearings aren't the greatest. 

 

A company Roro based out of Hong Kong reached out to me offering spool bearings.... (happens alot.. ) they offer hybrid ceramic handle knob bearings... I only agreed to them sending me stuff if they sent a bunch of knob bearings.. And a bunch of other crap (good knob bearings are tough to source at a reasonable price.. More often than not I prefer bushings. (I really wanted their bfs spools but they were out of stock) 

 

Full disclosure this is what I picked and what they're sending 

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ni

13 hours ago, scoobydoo said:

Can't show the bait... But that's the standard "gauge" handle... The new one is beefier /thicker aluminum.. 

The knobs though are far and away my favorites.. 

Gomexus sent me freebies.. But that was weeks and I year after buying a bunch of their stuff. 

My biggest gripe... Knob bearings aren't the greatest. 

 

A company Roro based out of Hong Kong reached out to me offering spool bearings.... (happens alot.. ) they offer hybrid ceramic handle knob bearings... I only agreed to them sending me stuff if they sent a bunch of knob bearings.. And a bunch of other crap (good knob bearings are tough to source at a reasonable price.. More often than not I prefer bushings. (I really wanted their bfs spools but they were out of stock) 

 

Full disclosure this is what I picked and what they're sending 

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nice scoob!  I usually don't get too geeky on handles but those look way cool!   DRT makes some killer designs but they are expensive and hard to get.   What is the benefit from changing out that handle to the one you have?  

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2 hours ago, norcalkat said:

ni

nice scoob!  I usually don't get too geeky on handles but those look way cool!   DRT makes some killer designs but they are expensive and hard to get.   What is the benefit from changing out that handle to the one you have?  

Think of this as a budget DRT handle.  (drt is one of the most over priced over inflated brands in the entire industry)

The one I'm using with the standard thickness handle is 120mm which is a bit longer than stock. 

The heavier gauge oddly is a 110 mm which is stock.

 

It's just more comfortable...to me it's noticeably more comfortable.  Enough that I'll be putting them on pretty much all my reels.

 

I've upgraded knobs and handles in the past...looking mostly for performance and leverage...but this one fits me perfectly....20$ per knob...50-60 for the whole set...I'd consider it a performance and comfort upgrade.

That's just me though :) 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

If you're thinking of upgrading your Conventional Reel's "handle" then I would refer you to the Tins superthread: 

We get a peek here at the reel I had Jamie design & this is my preferred plugging reel for a variety of reasons which I go over. 

 

The reason I like the custom double paddle power handles are numerous. They're smoother (they have actual bearings). They provide leverage. They're more comfortable. They allow you to reel much faster when needed. They provide torque which can turn a big fish in the nick of time. They require less effort to provide revolutions per second. 

 

I apologize for not doing a separate thread on these reels, as Brian had suggested. I would add that, the "ultimate" plugging reels do exist. Check out the Tins thread & let me know what you think. 

 

IMO this reel cracks the "code" & provides the ultimate in plugging weaponry. It requires extremely light start up intertia, & there are so many radical tweeks going on inside this real that it's almost mind blowing. I listed all the specs in the thread. 

 

3 years in service now & thoroughly impressed. Jamie was the man for the job. My good friend Ty has actually expounded on this concept & has a larger capacity RH model being built. We are casting tiny objects a VERY long distance at this juncture. 

 

Once we realized that the secret to distance casting wasn't really the rod, we got serious about designing something that met the needs of today's plug, lure & metals saltwater fisherman. Infinitely more versatile than a spinning reel btw. 

 

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Post #1062

Edited by CaryGreene

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On 11/2/2020 at 10:45 AM, iwantmypie said:

Spooks were my top producer this year. Rebel Jumpin Minnow in Half Beak, an old Mark Sosin Half Beak completely worn down to the bare plastic and Yo-Zuri Hyrdo Pencil in Bone were my top 3. They work great in a blitz as Cary noted but on days when nothing is working and you just want to catch something they'll raise a fish. I always have better luck on top water with these than with poppers. Might pick up a Doc in the off season to cover a bigger profile but the AH Dooksters are really calling my name. Still no luck on my end with Stick Shads for that same action subsurface.

Digging this one back up.

 

Jumpin Minnow and Hydro Pencil are still my Top 2 but they don’t seem to work well when the water gets rougher.

 

Finally picked up a 9” Doc and the hype is really. I feel stupid tossing on one the boat with my severely under powered rods but I have never seen bass attack any other too water plug like they do this. Violet and jumping clear out of the water! Works great with large Owner inlines. Obviously it’s twice the size of the two aforementioned spooks but this thing glides perfectly on top of the water, even when the water is rough. Consensus seems to be the 7” isn’t nearly as effective as the 9” but I still might pick one up since it has the profile and should be a bit easier on my boat rods.  
 

Question to the group, what’s your favorite spook when you’re out on the boat? 

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Posted (edited)

13 hours ago, iwantmypie said:

Digging this one back up.

 

Jumpin Minnow and Hydro Pencil are still my Top 2 but they don’t seem to work well when the water gets rougher.

 

Finally picked up a 9” Doc and the hype is really. I feel stupid tossing on one the boat with my severely under powered rods but I have never seen bass attack any other too water plug like they do this. Violet and jumping clear out of the water! Works great with large Owner inlines. Obviously it’s twice the size of the two aforementioned spooks but this thing glides perfectly on top of the water, even when the water is rough. Consensus seems to be the 7” isn’t nearly as effective as the 9” but I still might pick one up since it has the profile and should be a bit easier on my boat rods.  
 

Question to the group, what’s your favorite spook when you’re out on the boat? 

Who dares dig this thread back up from the abyss??!!!!

 

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Mine is a Yozuri Hydro-Pencil with Owner In-Line Hooks - in terms of commercially made Spooks. They are easy to find and they work. If you're swapping out Trebles, keep in mind that the VMC's are too brittle & they don't hold up to Bluefish well compared to the Owners. The points break off pretty easily. I've had 50+ fish days where VMC Trebles also eventually stop working because there hook's become inoperable. I carry split ring pliers so emergency surgery quickly fixes that problem. Owner In-Line hooks are baller & you'll have zero issues with them. They penetrate toothy, bony fish jaws and hold up to millions of Bluefish chomps. 

 

There is little debate that the Hydro-Pencil is the deadliest of all commercially made Spooks, though there is one challenger to that lofty Spook title - more on that in just a moment. I fish the Hydro-Pencils all sorts of different ways. I fish them at night, slowly, slithering them along shadow lines in & around lights and structure. I throw them into bird-squalls. I skip them near rocks, in & around current. I search the water with them. They just flat out produce and I think it's because of their size because over the course of the season, they match jr. sized bait so perfectly. 

 

The Hydro Pencil swims with more versatility than any Spook on the planet, with the exception of the Spook we're going to mention next. The one drawback to Hydro Pencils and really, all commercially made, plastic Spooks with the exception of the larger 9", heavy weights like Docs, is that they really aren't designed for super choppy water or big surf. If you fish out front a lot, with Surf rods & from shore, the sturdier, heavier wood Spooks come into play and suddenly, they move to the super-star tube in your plug-bag. 

 

iwantmypie raised a question that opens Pandora's Box >>>>>Which Spook is best overall from a Boat? 

 

Because we fish much more diverse types of water by boat than we do by land, the Hydro Pencil is king. It's what's under the hood that combines with the perfect hydro-dynamic body shape. The Hydro Pencil is perfectly weighted for long distance casting and it features a durable ABS Resin body that can't be killed. Hydro-Pencils also feature single cadence rattles that call fish in from long distances and this is what sets a Hydro Pencil apart from any other plug in your bag. 

 

But there is another reason it is the best single Spook from a boat. 

 

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Once bait reaches Jr. size, which is typically 3 to 5 inches, they school up & become inhabitants of the open water so when you're out running around with your binoculars, you'll often encounter situations where all you need is a Hydro Pencil. 

 

The best fisherman I know (and that's saying something) is Captain Dan Wood out of Niantic, CT. There is a reason he keeps a boat rod rigged up throughout the season with a Hydro Pencil. It works everywhere, all season long. He has to be savvy about price and durability and he'll actually buy in bulk when they go on sale.

 

Captain Dan also loves Heddon Spooks and he'll use those similarly and without hesitation & he loves it when he finds them on sale.

 

The Heddon Spook XT's, which are absolutely the model you want because they're the toughest, most-durable Spook Heddon makes. Spook XT's are designed to take on toothy inshore species with a saltwater grade hooks and hardware, equipped with two 3X strong, super-sharp hooks and heavy-duty, saltwater grade hook hangers and split rings. You get the same classic walk-the-dog action & they handle large Stripers reliably. Typically the Spook XT's go for $10.

 

I love the way the Spook XT swims & I have spent my fishing career just shaking my head and laughing because Heddon Spooks are unreal on Stripers. I classify the Spook XT as a must carry lure & I actually keep one rigged up all year long, just like Captain Dan does. 

 

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Where the Heddon Spook XT shines is during Blitzes, when fish are already aggressively pinning bait against the surface and smashing it with reckless-abandon. The Spook XT, at 1 ounce, is light but is able to load lighter action rods with ease and in the water, it's rounded nose and rounded belly rolls side to side more than any other Spook - which enhances the Spook XT's ability to slash back & forth with minimal effort. This makes the Spook XT the Spook to grab in a blitz.

 

Walking the dog is tiring. In order to get a Hydro-Pencil to walk, you have to expend considerably more energy. Sure, it will walk very nicely, but the Heddon Spook will go berserk when you twitch your rod tip just right, because that's what it was designed to do. 

 

Shimano also makes a really nice Spook - the Orca. It is great for swimming and it deserves serious respect from the boat fishing crowd for it's abilty to deal with extra large predators. Here's a look at an Orca Jr. from my plug bag, compared to a Hydro-Pencil. They're very close in size, with the Orca Jr being every so slightly bigger. 

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Of course, you can bump up the larger size Orca  and now you've got yourself a whale of Spook that dances all over the place and swims great. When you want to imitate larger bait-fish, the Orca is one of the best Spooks you can buy. The Orca is designed for pelagic s so you get heavy duty hook hangers & thru-wire construction all the way. The finish on the Orcas looks very pretty and does stand up fairly well. 

 

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The question asked by iwantmypie (jesus) also has another layer. What do you do when the water is rough but the fish are on top? 

 

Spooks have evolved. In choppy or rough conditions, a Spook with a more rounded nose is far worse than other alternatives. Because of the surface area at the front of most Typical Spooks, they can struggle in choppy water (but excel in the wash of a receding wave or in calmer conditions) especially if they're made of lighter plastic opposed to wood. Therefore, how do you handle chop?

 

With an Ice Cream Cone from Iron Candy Lures! This devilish variant of a Spook is a top-water plug that digs right in & takes advantage of the chop, which is pushing down on the front of the plug as you retrieve it.

 

The Ice Cream Cone will naturally run side to side, in a tight, slashing action that mimics a panic stricken bait-fish. It will also roll or "wobble" as it slashes. The Ice Cream Cone comes to life in the water and looks exactly like a fleeing bait-fish and it would be at the head of the class when the water is choppy. 

 

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Also, often times, guys are throwing Spooks that are just too big. Pay attention and look at what the fish are puking up when you catch them. Very often they're on Junior sized bait, or even smaller bait. The answer is to match the hatch by selecting the proper imitation. Ice Cream Cones come in 3/4 oz to 4 oz weights so this is "the Choppy Water Spook" that covers 90% of all situations. 

 

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In the open water, you can also encounter specific species of bait-fish at different times of year. One particular challenge in the Northeast can be Bunker. Weather doesn't always cooperate and conditions can vary. Ocean lures makes some really neat top-water lures that all fall into the Spook category. 

 

When you're encountering junior sized Bunker from a boat, which are a little bigger than inshore Peanut Bunker, you need a lure designed with enough weight to hold in any conditions & one that can handle a bit of chop. 

 

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As you can see, this hybrid Spook features a flattened nose similar to the Ice Cream Cone. This allows the Ocean Lures Peanut Bunker as it's named, to fish phenomenally well in the open water & swells that you encounter on a daily basis. It will work during even the finickiest of bites and it handles any conditions. 

 

If the Bunker are a little bigger than Junior size, you simply move up to match them. Now you've got the perfect surface Spook with ultra realistic, light bouncing ability and you can swim & zig-zag as you retrieve. The plug will push water and roll naturally, wobbling along. You can also stop and start and even pop a little water. Notice the angled nose of this Junior Bunker. Also notice the pot-belly silhouette and amazing contrast between the dorsal area and the sides. The pearlescent sides & belly are among the most realistic looking I've seen yet and all I know is that Ocean Lures catch fish consistently. 

 

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It is not uncommon to encounter Sand-eels in the open water and this can happen all season long. They too can get pinned against the surface and when that happens, you'll need to match the hatch. Ocean Lures covers that base as well with their stub nosed Sand-eel. 

 

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There are times when the bait is larger. In the Northeast, you could encounter bigger Herring, Mackerel, Bunker and even Shad or Mullet - though generally if you run into Mullet you encounter smaller "finger-mullet." When you do hit larger bait, you need something appropriate that mimics the size of the adult bait. 

 

One of the best performing XL Spooks on the market is the Charter Grade Slider from Hogy Lures, which is in my opinion the best 7" open water bomb you can throw. The light bouncing properties smoke all others and this is a big advantage in top-water fishing.

 

These Hogy Charter Grade Sliders come in either 4 oz or 7 oz weights and for most applications, the 4 oz model is the one you want. They sink so you can work them in a variety of ways and you can also deal with chop and easily get slightly under it. I love to fish this plug at or near the surface and It's been a game changer, both from the boat and from shore by the way. 

 

Charter Grade Sliders cast really well and they rattle as well so they can't be beat as searching Spooks. These plugs are extremely well made. 

 

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To get an idea of the scale of this game changing hybrid Spook, here's a look at the girthy Charter Grade Slider compared to the Hydro Pencil & a few other Herring patterns I use a lot from the boat. 

 

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The Hogy Charter Grade plugs are pretty much must-carries in your Boat-bag. I also use them a lot from shore in the smaller sizes. In fact, because they sink, rattle, swim and slash, you can do all sorts of different things with these plugs. The finishes are bullet proof and they are ultra realistic. Below is a Bunker pattern that is the single best Bunker lure in my bag. I use this plug in all sizes and love it from the Boat just as much as from shore. Choppy conditions don't effect this plug in the least, it will run perfect & hold wherever you want it to be. 

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Coincidentally, they also make a lure that has all but made the Still-Water Smack-It popper obsolete. Meet the Charter Grade Popper!

 

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What makes Charter Grade Sliders so impressive is that you can cover various sizes with lures that you can make sink, float, slash and slither. They do it all. Sliders are more hydrodynamic than floating Spooks, but they are closely related. Here are two Charter Grade lures in smaller sizes, compared to the vaunted Parrot Hydro-Pencil

 

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There are times when we want to fish from shore in the wash, or toss from a boat into the real deal conditions we face. With big fish around, you need to go heavy-duty and that doesn't mean "big sized." Like I said, most often, the Bass are not feeding on XL bait. But at times, XL bait will call up big fish, so you kind of have to use common sense with your approach regarding size.

 

Weight of the plug is also a really big deal because if you're going to go over 3 ounces, you might need a whole different rod - and you should be open adding a set up that handles big stuff because big stuff is absolutely necessary at times and if you cant throw it because you didn't diversify your tools of the trade, then you miss out. 

 

Weight, not plug length, is really the issue. 4 oz plugs are no joke. Fishing them & making them come to life requires heavier action rods and these types of rods are a blast to fish with. Break out the big guns when duty calls!

 

Getting back to the concept of wood being good, there is a lot to love about a well crafted wood Spook and because they're so strudy and they float like a cork, they are the ultimate Spooks from both shore and the boat - when good sized Stripers or Blues are around.

 

Custom wood Spooks are basically indestructible and because of their heavy duty construction, they'll hold up to a big fish. 

 

I love the After-Hours Spooks. They swim low, but on top and the over-sized heads are designed to make a v-wake. The v-wake is probably the single most effective attribute a Spook can give you.

 

Certainly, you can walk the Dog with these plugs very easily, but they really shine when you slither them back, slowly. Become one with the plug - pretend it's an oblivious Bunker just swimming along. Make it look a little bit wounded or vulnerable. Be creative. Try different approaches because they all work sometimes.

 

Also, don't be afraid to modify your plugs. Below is a Mini Dookster Bunker that I installed a flag tail on. This plug covers Jr. sized bait. After Hours Spooks are as good as it gets and obviously I recommend them all the time. The craftsmanship is top notch, the hardware they come with is great. I've never had one fail - ever. They take a pounding and they just keep looking superbly realistic. 

 

Here's the Mini-Dookster which would be my all time favorite Spook - responsible for my personal best Striper (58 lbs). 

 

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From the boat, I often find Neon Green to be lethal and I've had so many great days on the water with this Mini Dookster that I could probably write a book about what a ridiculously effective plug the Mini-Dookster is. 

 

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What's really cool about After Hours Spooks is the size range that's available. If you're looking for a real whomper, you've got options.

 

Speaking of wompers, next up are two of the best. The Senior Dookster, a 6" 2.5 oz monster that is as fishable as it is productive - from After Hours, and the largr Daddy Mack "Robbie Rice" Series Real-Deal Bomb. 

 

The Senior Dookster can be thrown with typical rods, though it pushes them towards the upper ends of their ratings, it can be fished. In the water its a load. It pushes a ton of water as it quietly swims home. Not only is the Senior Dookster perfect for the wash out front, but you can lob it from a boat till the cows come home. Due to that big head, the Dookster is best at swimming slowly. 

 

Now, if you want to call fish up, rattle your arse off and do damage on big fish, the Daddy Mack Bomb is quite the specimen. It comes in at a smart 3.6 oz so it's going to be at the upper end of most plugging rods that you'd use from a boat or from the beach. This is a rattling, searching Spook for when plus sized bait is around. It actually swims really nicely and it walks with ease due to its design. 

 

Unfortunately, the craftsmanship on this plug is not that great. I epoxied over the eyes on a couple of mine after replacing them because they fell off. For $20 I'd like better quality here but it is what it is and the plug does work like a charm. 

 

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Now for the secret weapon. The After Hours Mega Dookster - a 9" 4.5 oz leviathan. If you're looking for a sizable Spook, this would be one of the two best. The other would be from Mikes Custom Plugs by the way. This plug is astounding when you need to cover big bait on the surface. It walks and it swims. It's massive and it's awesome. 

 

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Unfortunately, I lost my After Hours Megga Dookster in the Cornfield Point Teacher's Appreciation Day Bluefish blitz of 2002, over a two decades ago so I can only provide you with the image above. 

 

Moving along to pinnacle of Mount Spook, Mike's Classic Custom Plug's 9" 4.2 oz Max Spook is another of the best swimming, best made large Spooks you're going to find in our solar system. 

 

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As you can see, not all Spooks are the same, there are many variations in size and body design. The more you get into Spooks, you'll begin to understand body profiles. it can be frustrating if you're trying to walk the dog with a spook that's actually designed to swim. And vice versa, Spooks designed to walk don't really swim that great. 

 

Some rare Spooks do both and in order to do that, they have to be designed perfectly. Custom Wood is where its at and I'd put a flawlessly designed custom wood Spook at the top of any Spook list. 

 

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Edited by CaryGreene
cleaned up some typos

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On 7/17/2021 at 3:10 PM, CaryGreene said:

Who dares dig this thread back up from the abyss??!!!!

 

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Mine is a Yozuri Hydro-Pencil with Owner In-Line Hooks - in terms of commercially made Spooks. They are easy to find and they work. If you're swapping out Trebles, keep in mind that the VMC's are too brittle & they don't hold up to Bluefish well compared to the Owners. The points break off pretty easily. I've had 50+ fish days where VMC Trebles also eventually stop working because there hook's become inoperable. I carry split ring pliers so emergency surgery quickly fixes that problem. Owner In-Line hooks are baller & you'll have zero issues with them. They penetrate toothy, bony fish jaws and hold up to millions of Bluefish chomps. 

 

There is little debate that the Hydro-Pencil is the deadliest of all commercially made Spooks, though there is one challenger to that lofty Spook title - more on that in just a moment. I fish the Hydro-Pencils all sorts of different ways. I fish them at night, slowly, slithering them along shadow lines in & around lights and structure. I throw them into bird-squalls. I skip them near rocks, in & around current. I search the water with them. They just flat out produce and I think it's because of their size because over the course of the season, they match jr. sized bait so perfectly. 

 

The Hydro Pencil swims with more versatility than any Spook on the planet, with the exception of the Spook we're going to mention next. The one drawback to Hydro Pencils and really, all commercially made, plastic Spooks with the exception of the larger 9", heavy weights like Docs, is that they really aren't designed for super choppy water or big surf. If you fish out front a lot, with Surf rods & from shore, the sturdier, heavier wood Spooks come into play and suddenly, they move to the super-star tube in your plug-bag. 

 

iwantmypie raised a question that opens Pandora's Box >>>>>Which Spook is best overall from a Boat? 

 

Because we fish much more diverse types of water by boat than we do by land, the Hydro Pencil is king. It's what's under the hood that combines with the perfect hydro-dynamic body shape. The Hydro Pencil is perfectly weighted for long distance casting and it features a durable ABS Resin body that can't be killed. Hydro-Pencils also feature single cadence rattles that call fish in from long distances and this is what sets a Hydro Pencil apart from any other plug in your bag. 

 

But there is another reason it is the best single Spook from a boat. 

 

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Once bait reaches Jr. size, which is typically 3 to 5 inches, they school up & become inhabitants of the open water so when you're out running around with your binoculars, you'll often encounter situations where all you need is a Hydro Pencil. 

 

The best fisherman I know (and that's saying something) is Captain Dan Wood out of Niantic, CT. There is a reason he keeps a boat rod rigged up throughout the season with a Hydro Pencil. It works everywhere, all season long. He has to be savvy about price and durability and he'll actually buy in bulk when they go on sale.

 

Captain Dan also loves Heddon Spooks and he'll use those similarly and without hesitation & he loves it when he finds them on sale.

 

The Heddon Spook XT's, which are absolutely the model you want because they're the toughest, most-durable Spook Heddon makes. Spook XT's are designed to take on toothy inshore species with a saltwater grade hooks and hardware, equipped with two 3X strong, super-sharp hooks and heavy-duty, saltwater grade hook hangers and split rings. You get the same classic walk-the-dog action & they handle large Stripers reliably. Typically the Spook XT's go for $10.

 

I love the way the Spook XT swims & I have spent my fishing career just shaking my head and laughing because Heddon Spooks are unreal on Stripers. I classify the Spook XT as a must carry lure & I actually keep one rigged up all year long, just like Captain Dan does. 

 

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Where the Heddon Spook XT shines is during Blitzes, when fish are already aggressively pinning bait against the surface and smashing it with reckless-abandon. The Spook XT, at 1 ounce, is light but is able to load lighter action rods with ease and in the water, it's rounded nose and rounded belly rolls side to side more than any other Spook - which enhances the Spook XT's ability to slash back & forth with minimal effort. This makes the Spook XT the Spook to grab in a blitz.

 

Walking the dog is tiring. In order to get a Hydro-Pencil to walk, you have to expend considerably more energy. Sure, it will walk very nicely, but the Heddon Spook will go berserk when you twitch your rod tip just right, because that's what it was designed to do. 

 

Shimano also makes a really nice Spook - the Orca. It is great for swimming and it deserves serious respect from the boat fishing crowd for it's abilty to deal with extra large predators. Here's a look at an Orca Jr. from my plug bag, compared to a Hydro-Pencil. They're very close in size, with the Orca Jr being every so slightly bigger. 

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Of course, you can bump up the larger size Orca  and now you've got yourself a whale of Spook that dances all over the place and swims great. When you want to imitate larger bait-fish, the Orca is one of the best Spooks you can buy. The Orca is designed for pelagic s so you get heavy duty hook hangers & thru-wire construction all the way. The finish on the Orcas looks very pretty and does stand up fairly well. 

 

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The question asked by iwantmypie (jesus) also has another layer. What do you do when the water is rough but the fish are on top? 

 

Spooks have evolved. In choppy or rough conditions, a Spook with a more rounded nose is far worse than other alternatives. Because of the surface area at the front of most Typical Spooks, they can struggle in choppy water (but excel in the wash of a receding wave or in calmer conditions) especially if they're made of lighter plastic opposed to wood. Therefore, how do you handle chop?

 

With an Ice Cream Cone from Iron Candy Lures! This devilish variant of a Spook is a top-water plug that digs right in & takes advantage of the chop, which is pushing down on the front of the plug as you retrieve it.

 

The Ice Cream Cone will naturally run side to side, in a tight, slashing action that mimics a panic stricken bait-fish. It will also roll or "wobble" as it slashes. The Ice Cream Cone comes to life in the water and looks exactly like a fleeing bait-fish and it would be at the head of the class when the water is choppy. 

 

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Also, often times, guys are throwing Spooks that are just too big. Pay attention and look at what the fish are puking up when you catch them. Very often they're on Junior sized bait, or even smaller bait. The answer is to match the hatch by selecting the proper imitation. Ice Cream Cones come in 3/4 oz to 4 oz weights so this is "the Choppy Water Spook" that covers 90% of all situations. 

 

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In the open water, you can also encounter specific species of bait-fish at different times of year. One particular challenge in the Northeast can be Bunker. Weather doesn't always cooperate and conditions can vary. Ocean lures makes some really neat top-water lures that all fall into the Spook category. 

 

When you're encountering junior sized Bunker from a boat, which are a little bigger than inshore Peanut Bunker, you need a lure designed with enough weight to hold in any conditions & one that can handle a bit of chop. 

 

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As you can see, this hybrid Spook features a flattened nose similar to the Ice Cream Cone. This allows the Ocean Lures Peanut Bunker as it's named, to fish phenomenally well in the open water & swells that you encounter on a daily basis. It will work during even the finickiest of bites and it handles any conditions. 

 

If the Bunker are a little bigger than Junior size, you simply move up to match them. Now you've got the perfect surface Spook with ultra realistic, light bouncing ability and you can swim & zig-zag as you retrieve. The plug will push water and roll naturally, wobbling along. You can also stop and start and even pop a little water. Notice the angled nose of this Junior Bunker. Also notice the pot-belly silhouette and amazing contrast between the dorsal area and the sides. The pearlescent sides & belly are among the most realistic looking I've seen yet and all I know is that Ocean Lures catch fish consistently. 

 

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It is not uncommon to encounter Sand-eels in the open water and this can happen all season long. They too can get pinned against the surface and when that happens, you'll need to match the hatch. Ocean Lures covers that base as well with their stub nosed Sand-eel. 

 

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There are times when the bait is larger. In the Northeast, you could encounter bigger Herring, Mackerel, Bunker and even Shad or Mullet - though generally if you run into Mullet you encounter smaller "finger-mullet." When you do hit larger bait, you need something appropriate that mimics the size of the adult bait. 

 

One of the best performing XL Spooks on the market is the Charter Grade Slider from Hogy Lures, which is in my opinion the best 7" open water bomb you can throw. The light bouncing properties smoke all others and this is a big advantage in top-water fishing.

 

These Hogy Charter Grade Sliders come in either 4 oz or 7 oz weights and for most applications, the 4 oz model is the one you want. They sink so you can work them in a variety of ways and you can also deal with chop and easily get slightly under it. I love to fish this plug at or near the surface and It's been a game changer, both from the boat and from shore by the way. 

 

Charter Grade Sliders cast really well and they rattle as well so they can't be beat as searching Spooks. These plugs are extremely well made. 

 

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To get an idea of the scale of this game changing hybrid Spook, here's a look at the girthy Charter Grade Slider compared to the Hydro Pencil & a few other Herring patterns I use a lot from the boat. 

 

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The Hogy Charter Grade plugs are pretty much must-carries in your Boat-bag. I also use them a lot from shore in the smaller sizes. In fact, because they sink, rattle, swim and slash, you can do all sorts of different things with these plugs. The finishes are bullet proof and they are ultra realistic. Below is a Bunker pattern that is the single best Bunker lure in my bag. I use this plug in all sizes and love it from the Boat just as much as from shore. Choppy conditions don't effect this plug in the least, it will run perfect & hold wherever you want it to be. 

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Coincidentally, they also make a lure that has all but made the Still-Water Smack-It popper obsolete. Meet the Charter Grade Popper!

 

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What makes Charter Grade Sliders so impressive is that you can cover various sizes with lures that you can make sink, float, slash and slither. They do it all. Sliders are more hydrodynamic than floating Spooks, but they are closely related. Here are two Charter Grade lures in smaller sizes, compared to the vaunted Parrot Hydro-Pencil

 

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There are times when we want to fish from shore in the wash, or toss from a boat into the real deal conditions we face. With big fish around, you need to go heavy-duty and that doesn't mean "big sized." Like I said, most often, the Bass are not feeding on XL bait. But at times, XL bait will call up big fish, so you kind of have to use common sense with your approach regarding size.

 

Weight of the plug is also a really big deal because if you're going to go over 3 ounces, you might need a whole different rod - and you should be open adding a set up that handles big stuff because big stuff is absolutely necessary at times and if you cant throw it because you didn't diversify your tools of the trade, then you miss out. 

 

Weight, not plug length, is really the issue. 4 oz plugs are no joke. Fishing them & making them come to life requires heavier action rods and these types of rods are a blast to fish with. Break out the big guns when duty calls!

 

Getting back to the concept of wood being good, there is a lot to love about a well crafted wood Spook and because they're so strudy and they float like a cork, they are the ultimate Spooks from both shore and the boat - when good sized Stripers or Blues are around.

 

Custom wood Spooks are basically indestructible and because of their heavy duty construction, they'll hold up to a big fish. 

 

I love the After-Hours Spooks. They swim low, but on top and the over-sized heads are designed to make a v-wake. The v-wake is probably the single most effective attribute a Spook can give you.

 

Certainly, you can walk the Dog with these plugs very easily, but they really shine when you slither them back, slowly. Become one with the plug - pretend it's an oblivious Bunker just swimming along. Make it look a little bit wounded or vulnerable. Be creative. Try different approaches because they all work sometimes.

 

Also, don't be afraid to modify your plugs. Below is a Mini Dookster Bunker that I installed a flag tail on. This plug covers Jr. sized bait. After Hours Spooks are as good as it gets and obviously I recommend them all the time. The craftsmanship is top notch, the hardware they come with is great. I've never had one fail - ever. They take a pounding and they just keep looking superbly realistic. 

 

Here's the Mini-Dookster which would be my all time favorite Spook - responsible for my personal best Striper (58 lbs). 

 

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From the boat, I often find Neon Green to be lethal and I've had so many great days on the water with this Mini Dookster that I could probably write a book about what a ridiculously effective plug the Mini-Dookster is. 

 

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What's really cool about After Hours Spooks is the size range that's available. If you're looking for a real whomper, you've got options.

 

Speaking of wompers, next up are two of the best. The Senior Dookster, a 6" 2.5 oz monster that is as fishable as it is productive - from After Hours, and the largr Daddy Mack "Robbie Rice" Series Real-Deal Bomb. 

 

The Senior Dookster can be thrown with typical rods, though it pushes them towards the upper ends of their ratings, it can be fished. In the water its a load. It pushes a ton of water as it quietly swims home. Not only is the Senior Dookster perfect for the wash out front, but you can lob it from a boat till the cows come home. Due to that big head, the Dookster is best at swimming slowly. 

 

Now, if you want to call fish up, rattle your arse off and do damage on big fish, the Daddy Mack Bomb is quite the specimen. It comes in at a smart 3.6 oz so it's going to be at the upper end of most plugging rods that you'd use from a boat or from the beach. This is a rattling, searching Spook for when plus sized bait is around. It actually swims really nicely and it walks with ease due to its design. 

 

Unfortunately, the craftsmanship on this plug is not that great. I epoxied over the eyes on a couple of mine after replacing them because they fell off. For $20 I'd like better quality here but it is what it is and the plug does work like a charm. 

 

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Now for the secret weapon. The After Hours Mega Dookster - a 9" 4.5 oz leviathan. If you're looking for a sizable Spook, this would be one of the two best. The other would be from Mikes Custom Plugs by the way. This plug is astounding when you need to cover big bait on the surface. It walks and it swims. It's massive and it's awesome. 

 

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Unfortunately, I lost my After Hours Megga Dookster in the Cornfield Point Teacher's Appreciation Day Bluefish blitz of 2002, over a two decades ago so I can only provide you with the image above. 

 

Moving along to pinnacle of Mount Spook, Mike's Classic Custom Plug's 9" 4.2 oz Max Spook is another of the best swimming, best made large Spooks you're going to find in our solar system. 

 

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As you can see, not all Spooks are the same, there are many variations in size and body design. The more you get into Spooks, you'll begin to understand body profiles. it can be frustrating if you're trying to walk the dog with a spook that's actually designed to swim. And vice versa, Spooks designed to walk don't really swim that great. 

 

Some rare Spooks do both and in order to do that, they have to be designed perfectly. Custom Wood is where its at and I'd put a flawlessly designed custom wood Spook at the top of any Spook list. 

 

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Ask and you shall receive, CG delivers! :clap:

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Anyone want to comment on the RM Smith Jack Hammer. I believe this is 9" plug. I'm curious if anyone knows what the diameter of this plug is, how it casts, and how much it weighs. Plenty of hooks on this one, whoa!

 

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On 11/18/2020 at 8:40 AM, VitaminDee said:

Loving these MD Sandeels. Too bad they are discontinued.  Ocean Lures made one similar but same thing with them, also discontinued. 

 

 

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Floating needlefish, not a ‘spook’.

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This time of year, surface fishing around low light conditions can be very fun. If you can find a nice deep cold spot where the high tide starts to flood and some bigger fish come in to feed, try a small slook just working back and forth slowly, you don't want it causing a lot of splashes and commotion, just practice walking the spook back nice and steady. 

 

If you can find a little current or water is either coming in or dumping out. Just work one of the far edges where the deeper water meets the shallow water. Let the spook drift along and just retrieve it very slowly back and forth. This technique can be very productive all summer long, especially later in the day or early morning.

 

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10 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

This time of year, surface fishing around low light conditions can be very fun. If you can find a nice deep cold spot where the high tide starts to flood and some bigger fish come in to feed, try a small slook just working back and forth slowly, you don't want it causing a lot of splashes and commotion, just practice walking the spook back nice and steady. 

 

If you can find a little current or water is either coming in or dumping out. Just work one of the far edges where the deeper water meets the shallow water. Let the spook drift along and just retrieve it very slowly back and forth. This technique can be very productive all summer long, especially later in the day or early morning.

 

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, R.R. Bridge Fisher said:

 

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Those wood spooks don't work. Must have had a lucky hit. Did the fish have both eyes? can't tell from the picure. LOL  (*okay, now that my appropriate greeting is out of the way >>nice one!) ((look at those Bean waders doin' the do!))

Edited by CaryGreene
Added a *

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