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September 21, 2007
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Bag It

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Surf bags are standard equip-ment in striper country from Maine to Hatteras, as well as on the West Coast. They range from small and simple belt pouches that carry three or four lures, to mammoth, triple-row tackle bags. Simpler is better. After 40 years of pounding sand along the striper coast, I’ve settled on a single-row bag that holds a dozen or so lures. Such a bag is light enough to carry all night without fatigue, and can be counted on for grab-and-go success in the surf. The trick, of course, is in stocking a bag with lures that produce. The contents of my bag may change slightly, as I reload it from stock boxes in my truck depending on location, tide and the rod I’ll be casting. But the lures shown here are almost always in my bag in one form or another, as they have produced fish consistently for years. Carlos Alayo
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SWIMMING PLUG
The Bomber Long A (www.bomberlures.com) is the bread-and-butter choice among plastic swimming plugs. The all-black version is stock and essential after dark.
Carlos Alayo
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SWIMMING PLUG
The yellow, “chicken scratch,” Bomber Long A is a favorite at dawn and dusk, and does an admirable job when the mullet are running in the suds.
Carlos Alayo
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BOTTLE PLUG
These rear-weighted swimming plugs have a nice, easy wiggle and cast like rockets. This is a Super Strike Little Neck Deep Swimmer (www.superstrikelures.com). It’s often my first choice when fishing into the wind on deeper beaches after dark.
Carlos Alayo
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NEEDLEFISH
This yellow needle is by John “Habs” Haberek (www.habscustomplugs.com). Effective when paired with a dropper, cast it out and retrieve s-l-o-w-l-y. A relative newcomer, it has quickly gained a reputation as a big-fish slayer.
Carlos Alaya
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DARTER
Another classic, darters are especially popular around Montauk. They work best in moving water, such as a tide rip or inlet. This version is a Super Strike Zig Zag. Black-and-purple is a hot color for night work.
Carlos Alayo
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DANNY SWIMMER
Fat, metal-lipped swimmers are traditional plugs for big bass, day or night. This is a Gibbs Danny Surface Swimmer. Tune the lure by bending the lip, the eye or both up or down as desired, so the plug trails a surface wake.
Carlos Alayo
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BUCKTAILS
It’s the most basic of all striper lures. I prefer Smiling Bill-style bucktails and usually carry a few in various sizes. Anglers often fish them with a porkrind or soft-plastic trailer, but bass sometimes show a distinct preference for unadorned bucktails.
Carlos Alayo
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POLARIS-STYLE POPPER
A daytime plug for both stripers and bluefish, I use this lure most often when fishing in a stiff crosswind. The plug’s cupped face digs into the surface well and keeps the wind from dragging both the line and plug out of control.
Carlos Alayo
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STORM SHAD
These boot-tail-style soft-plastics (Storm Lures; www.stormlures.com) with an integral jighead have taken the striper world by storm, so to speak. Carry a pack with you—always. They work anywhere but produce best in deep or moving water.
John Keller / Cliff Gardiner
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DROPPERS
Once in a while I fish a dropper (an unweighted streamer fly) ahead of a plug. This works well if there are plenty of Twinkie-size bass around, or if larger fish are on small bait. White, yellow and black (for after dark) work best.
Carlos Alayo
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PENCIL POPPER
One of the all-time greatest surface lures, pencil poppers are just plain indispensable. When worked correctly, the plug darts and dances in a surface frenzy while remaining almost in the same spot, but can be difficult to fish in a crosswind.
Carlos Alayo
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HEAVY TIN
One of the great “tins,” the Kastmaster (Acme Tackle; www.acmetackle.com) is actually plated brass. It casts like a bullet, even into a headwind, and is especially useful for extreme distances. And, yes, it also works at night.
Carlos Alayo
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LIGHT TIN
A slim tin with a tight wobble, Deadly Dicks take both bass and blues (Deadly Dick Classic Lures; www.deadlydicklures.com). I mostly carry them in case bonito or false albacore show up near the beach within casting range.
Carlos Alayo
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INSECT REPELLENT
Salt-marsh mosquitoes are the world’s nastiest.
Carlos Alayo
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PLIERS
I most often use cheap, stainless, long-nosed versions because I keep losing the expensive ones.
Manfred Koh
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SNAPS AND SWIVELS
I use a variety, but carry large snap-swivel combos for fishing metal-lipped swimmers.
Carlos Alayo
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MEDICAL TAPE
I wrap the index finger of my casting hand for protection when using heavy spinning tackle.
Carlos Alayo
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FLASHLIGHT
I hate headlamps, however fashionable, because they’re hard to direct properly and someone else’s tends to shine into my eyes when they turn to talk. A simple, small flashlight on a neck cord works better for less money.
Carlos Alayo
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SUNBLOCK
Had any cancerous lumps removed from your skin lately?
Carlos Alayo
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