Long Island Beach Buggy Association
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Tackle Tuesday, Volume 1- Bucktail

  A town in Nebraska; a state park in Pennsylvania and the end opposite the head of a rivet. What do they have in common?.....Bucktail!

The Bucktail is also probably one of the most multifaceted, all-purpose, all-species, and effective lures ever invented. Evidence to its effectiveness during WWII, our Navy included a bucktail and handline in the survival kits of sailors and pilots. For the most part it’s basic; a lead head with a hook and the hair of a dead animal. Yes, the hair is literally from the tail of a deer

It can be fished many ways and in many different conditions; shore, jetties or from a boat (even though boat fish don’t count). It mimics several baitfish; therefore, it catches a wide variety of species. It is a lure that should be included in everyone’s surf bag and comes in a wide range of styles and sizes.

Styles and Sizes

       Smaller jigs from ΒΌ ounce to 1 ounce are great in shallow water and imitate small bait like bay anchovies and peanut bunker.  Remember you want to try to “Match the Hatch”.  

       Larger bucktails weighing 1 to 3 ounces work well in deep water and fast-moving currents. They are great lookalikes to a wider profile baitfish like bunker or squid and are a favorite of stripers and blues. Invite Smilin’ Bill to fish with you.

Sometimes it pays to add something to make your jig look more appealing,  like a strip of Gulp or Otter Tail, and then you can always ask Uncle Josh what he uses.

Method to the Madness

   Since it is such a popular lure and has been around for a very long time, there is a lot of research you can do on your own to familiarize yourself with the Bucktail and the different methods of using it. There are tons of articles, videos, and books about fishing with them. A Long Island local John Skinner has a great book and YouTube videos focusing on just the bucktail. The best thing you can do is try it out; put in the time and effort and figure it out on your own. Is it better to use a slow or medium retrieve, bounce on the bottom or keep it high in the water column, what does a thick tuft of hair do vs. a thin tuft, white hair with a red split tail, or chartreuse with a white tail?  Practice different types under different conditions. Go to your local tackle shop, ask for their guidance and pick up a few.  Most of all get out there and fish! 

I hope you enjoyed the read!

Joe Pellegrini

Director of Courtesy Patrol

Tackle Tuesday, Volume 2-Minnow

The year is 1960, Tom & Mildred Hyland (my grandparents) bought a small piece of land on a big lake a few miles south of the Canadian border in the northeast corner of Vermont. Back then before major interstates it would take them, my mom,  two aunts, one uncle and “Lucky” (their dog who was prone to getting car sick) 12 long hours to get to the lake from Long Island. My grandfather built a house, a dock, and as a result still builds memories that our family has been making there ever since. Now picture this; a sunny July day in the late ‘70’s, me (with a full head of hair) pulling on a piece of rope attached to our dock and at the end of it in this odd-shaped metal contraption with tons of little fish (and the occasional crawfish) wiggling like crazy; MINNOWS! Like many of us, this is where it all started, our first fish encounter was with a minnow. I guess I can say I’ve been fishing since the ‘70’s, and by default I’m a seasoned fisherman and know everything there is to know about fishing. Well, the first part is true, the second part…not so much; I’m always learning.

The Minnow

This lure is another solid go to that has stood the test of time. The minnow also has crossover appeal with the freshwater community, where they are commonly referred to as “jerk bait”. Most have two sets of hooks, some of the longer ones have three and they are almost always a treble, although sometimes you will see a siwash tagging along. They are lightweight and easy to cast. They now come in a ton of colors; who would have ever thought that a striper would try to eat a “School bus”, that “Chicken Scratch'' isn't just sloppy handwriting and what the heck is a "blurple"?   Another bonus is that they are relatively inexpensive, which is perfect for a newer surfcaster who doesn’t quite have their knot tying skills down pat. 

Styles and Sizes

Style wise, they are all very similar in shape and easily recognizable. Usually they have a pronounced bottom lip, which helps with the action of the plug as well as the depth in which it will swim. Most of them commonly range in length from 5”-7” and weigh in at less than an ounce to 1.5 oz or more if there is a brave doctor in the house. 

Here are a couple of Old School and New(ish) school examples worth looking into:

Cotton Cordell Red Fin- this is an old school plug, that swims close to the surface with a nice V wake, and wiggle.  The major downside of it is that  out of the box it's on the lighter side and casts poorly in even a little wind.  To overcome this many anglers “load” the plug by drilling a small hole in the body and filling the hollow cavity with either water, mineral oil, or BBs. You would then close the hole and get to casting. If you are brave enough to give it a shot feel free to add “Plug Surgeon” to your resume. 

Bomber Long A- Another longtime favorite that’s made a great impression among the surfcasting community. It is a decent caster out of the package weighing in at 1.5 oz. and it’s long at 7”. That big profile makes it a great target for larger sized stripers. It comes in a wide variety of colors, and its lip is more pronounced making it a deeper swimmer.  

Daiwa Salt Pro or SP Minnow- a newer school plug that has magnets in the body that help load your cast. This plug by far is the best caster out of the box.  It has great action, and can be found in a variety of flashy colors that add to the attraction. It only swims about 3’ below the surface so it’s great for shallower water. The one downfall of it is that the stock hardware is a little flimsy, so it might be a good idea to change the factory split rings and hooks; dust off your “plug surgeon” diploma from earlier.

Method to the Madness

The main goal of these lures is not only to look like a bait fish but to mimic a wounded one. Here’s where time, effort, trial, and error come into play. What retrieve work best for the conditions at hand and the style lure you are using. Should you use a fast retrieve or a painfully slow one? What kind of wiggle or swagger do you see when you change it up?  Do you twitch (jerk) it every three cranks? Or is a twitch-twitch-pause going to do the trick? Did you inject too many CCs of water during surgery and mess up the plugs wiggle? So, what’s the right amount, is 5 too little, 12 too much or is 10 just right? That’s all part of it, remember there’s a reason it’s called fishing, and not “catching”.

I hope you enjoyed the read!

Joe Pellegrini

No photos
Updated on: March 14, 2024

Tackle Tuesday, Vol. 3-Diamond Jig

What’s the hardest known natural material? I hope you said a diamond and not your stubborn friend’s head. So, what does a diamond, an eating utensil and some medical supplies have in common? You’re about to find out….

The “Jig” is up!

Take a slim piece of metal and attach a hook to it. Truthfully in terms of a fishing lure, it doesn’t get any simpler than a Diamond Jig (sorry bucktail fans). Sure, over the years there have been tweaks and variations. Some are enhanced by a tuft of bucktail, some are hammered with dimples like a golf ball, holographic stickers adorn others, and others have a colored piece of surgical tube attached to the hook. However for the most part the standard has remained unchanged.  The old salties call it the “Ava” jig, (more on that in a later volume), they are also sometimes referred to as “spoons” so don’t be confused by the lingo.  Put on your “plug surgeon” cap from the last volume; drill a couple of holes in an actual spoon, tie your line to one end and a hook on the other, cast it out and see what happens; talk about simple.  Stripers love them, blues go crazy for them, fluke will give them a taste and when their buddy Albie shows up, he can’t resist them either. They are durable and inexpensive and should definitely have a slot reserved in your plug bag.

Styles and Sizes

For the standard diamond jig, the most common weight is a 007, which weighs .07 oz. Then there is the A17 which is 1.7 oz., the A27-2.7oz., and the A47 which is 4.7 oz.  If there is very little current, pretend you’re James Bond and start with a 007. If there is a stronger sweep, a little windy or you need to send it deep over a sandbar, switch to an A17. The heavier A27 will sit deeper in the water column which is great for an inlet not to mention the heavier weight will help you cast far when a stiff wind is in your face.

Color-wise the three usual suspects for our area: red, white, and green. The color is a result of the small rubber surgical tube that covers the shank of the hook.  White is probably the most common one you’ll see and is very versatile. Red when slowly dragged on the bottom looks like a sand or bloodworm, a striper delicacy, and green…bluefish can’t seem to stay away.

As mentioned previously, there are a lot of styles and shapes. Some are flashy and dressed up more than others.  Definitely own a few choices of the standard rubber tubed version. If you’re looking for a wide range of sizes and styles pick up some Charlie Graves Tins made by West End Fishing Tackle Inc. they're made locally here on Long Island by one of our own LIBBA members and are proven fish catchers. A version or two of a  Deadly Dick, especially when the Albies make their way to our shores will be effective.  Always buy from your local tackle shop and pick their brain as to what works best and when.

Method to the Madness

These lures are one of the better choices to throw from the beach for two reasons; they target multiple species and their casting ability.  Because of their weight and relatively streamlined shape, they cut through the wind with ease and allow you to cast quite a distance; a big perk if you’re trying to land it over a sand bar or to impress your friends. They’re also excellent if you’re in the middle of a blitz. The straightforward one hook design gives you an efficient turnaround to quickly send another cast into the boil. Being bluefish tooth proof allows you to unhook and get to casting immediately; no re-baiting or swapping out damaged plugs when you’re using a tin. What color works best? Should you use a slow retrieve dragging bottom or a crazy fast retrieve to spark a finned multicolored torpedo to pursue your offering? There is only one way to find out...get out there a cast.  As I said earlier, these are basic looking, and unlike other lures; these are ones that catch more fish than fisherman. 

I hope you enjoyed the read! 

Joe Pellegrini

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