Fishing With Spoons in Saltwater

Popular spoon lures continue to catch inshore and offshore fish.


September 9, 2022
using spoons for fishing
Spoons prove effective on a variety of inshore and offshore species such as Spanish mackerel. Sid Dobrin

The popularity of casting spoons is almost universal. The key to success is learning the proper size and weight to mimic the prevalent baitfish and achieve the necessary casting distance, and to use the right retrieve. Decades ago we learned how to use spoon lures on Krocodiles, Kastmasters and Clarkspoons.

We learned which models swam fast and which swam slowly, which ran deep and which fluttered just below the surface, and used the ones best suited for different situations. We were dialed into the best fishing spoons.

fishing spoons and lures
Versatile and timeless weedless spoons catch saltwater and freshwater sport fish. Zach Stovall

How to Use Spoon Lures

In the spring, when it’s time to wade inlets and estuaries, smaller casting spoons with deep concave bodies like Johnson Sprite or the weedless Johnson Silver Minnow work well. The spoons suspend, tremble and sparkle above the estuarine grass, mimicking pinfish and other small forage fish, great for speckled trout and flounder.

The Clarkspoon fishing lure. Zach Stovall

When menhaden run, Krocodiles and similar spoons that wobble and flash get the nod. We caught many bluefish cranking spoons at a moderate speed through a blitz on the bunkers.

In summer, when water temperatures soar smaller, Kastmasters or Clarkspoons produce on Spanish mackerel. Their quiver that suggests the smaller baitfish that mackerel can’t resist.

In autumn, once the water cools big red drum or fast-moving false albacore come within range, opt for heavier, wider spoons that sink deeper and present a broader profile.


How to Use Saltwater Trolling Spoons

Trolling Sinker Rig
The Trolling Sinker Rig is made up of 1.) main line, 2.) trolling sinker, 3.) 20 to 25 feet of mono leader, 4.) albright knot, 5.) 12 to 18 inches of cable leader, and 6.) crimped sleeve. Illustration by Steve Sanford

This basic but effective trolling spoon rig incorporates a cigar sinker or similar weight ahead of the leader to keep the spoon below the surface. To troll deeper or at a faster speed, use a heavier sinker. The only drawback is that the sinker remains connected to the line when you fight a fish.

L.B. Huntington Drone Spoon
The L.B. Huntington Drone Spoon is classic northeastern lure. Zach Stovall

Saltwater Trolling Spoons Explained

For trolling I turned to the L.B. Huntington Drone spoon. From the 4½-inch down to the 1½-inch, it’s effective for Spanish mackerel, kingfish, blackfin tuna, wahoo, and dolphin. A similar single-hook trolling-spoon, the Reflecto, has puts tuna and wahoo on deck when other lures go untouched.

Rubber-Band Planer Rig Diagram

Rubber-Band Planer Rig
The rubber planer rig is great for anglers who regularly use planers in their boat spread. Illustration by Steve Sanford

Below are the separate parts of the rubber-band planer rig.

  1. Girth-hitch a rubber band to the back of a snap swivel.
  2. Drop the spoon back to desired distance and tie the rubber band to your fishing line.
  3. Clip the snap to the deployed planer tether.
  4. Dip the rod tip in the water and provide enough slack to let the snap slide down the tether to the planer.
  5. Swivel
  6. 25 Feet of Mono Leader
  7. Albright knot
  8. 12 to 18 inches of cable leader
  9. Crimped sleeve

Different Types of Spoons for Saltwater

But spoon designs also include some made for specific needs. The Hopkins Shorty and No=EQL spoons were seen as specialty lures for a bluefish blitz. Their thickness, heft and slender profile enable the long casts, quick drops and fast retrieval speeds d to reach swift-moving fish running deep. Tony Maja’s bunker spoon, a wide, pear-shaped spoons created for striped bass remains a northeast favorite.

Johnson (weedless) Silver Minnow
The Johnson (weedless) Silver Minnow is a great spoon to cast over inshore grassflats. Zach Stovall

Rigging Spoon Lures

Integrating spoons with various attractors, such as bucktail or a soft-plastic trailer, frequently accounts for more redfish, trout, snook, stripers or bluefish.

Likewise, a short length of surgical tubing in neon green, red, orange and other bright colors draws more strikes from stripers, bonito, bluefish, and mackerel. Modifications or not, spoons will continue to catch fish inshore, offshore and in between. As my grandfather used to say, every saltwater angler should have some and know how to use them.


Different Types of Spoons

Acme Kastmaster
The Acme Kastmaster spoon lure. Zach Stovall

Casting Spoons

  • Top brands/models: Johnson Silver ­Minnow, Johnson Sprite, Rapala Rattlin’ Minnow
  • Best retrievers: Slow to medium to stay just above grass, shell or rocks. Twitch and stop off and on to let spoon flutter.
  • Target species: Redfish, seatrout, striped bass, flounder, bluefish, jacks and other inshore species
Luhr-Jensen Krocodile
The Luhr-Jensen Krocodile spoon lure. Zach Stovall

Wobbling Spoons

  • Top brands/models: Acme Kastmaster, Luhr-Jensen Krocodile, Gator Spoon
  • Best retrievers: Medium to fast with quick rod tip twitches to trigger reaction strikes.
  • Target species: Schoolie kingfish, Spanish and cero mackerel, bluefish, bonito, jacks, barracuda
Tony Maja Bunker
The Tony Maja Bunker spoon lure. Zach Stovall

Trolling Spoons

  • Top brands/models: L.B. Huntington Drone, Luhr-Jensen Reflecto, Tony Maja Bunker
  • Best retrievers: Troll off flat lines for surface action, and off downriggers, planers or wire lines for larger pelagics in midwater.
  • Target species: Kingfish, Spanish and cero mackerel, wahoo, tuna, bluefish, dolphin, barracuda
Hopkins Shorty
The Hopkins Shorty spoon lure. Zach Stovall

Jigging Spoons

  • Top brands/models: Hopkins Shorty, ­Hopkins No=EQL, Cotton Cordel Jigging Spoon
  • Best retrievers: Jig and bounce off bottom for fish hanging deep. Crank fast with hard rod-tip jerks for fast-moving fish.
  • Target species: Striped bass, seatrout or bluefish hanging deep, flounder, sea bass and other bottom dwellers

More How To