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THE RED FIN

You’ve heard the folk lore, but have you ever tried this simple modification to a tried-and-true surf producer?
By Dave Anderson
Tags: surf

As a surfcaster, the odds are already stacked against you. It’s bad enough when you have just walked that mile to your spot, struggled your way out to your rock and found you’re unprepared. It’s worse when, while you start to smell skunk, you’re forced to watch a nearby angler bail fish while you probe the surf without a sniff.

You thought you had all the bases covered, but that guy had a trick up his sleeve. If you’re a plug fisherman and you fish nights, then you are likely to have an array of plastic swimmers in your bag—Bombers, Mambos and Red Fins are most common with the Daiwa SP Minnow taking its place in recent years. Maybe you’ve heard that old guy down at the shop talking about loaded Red Fins or read about them in one of those nostalgia-laced books about the “glory days of bass fishing.” I think if someone were to say Red Fin, you might even ask if they meant “loaded.” But do you really know what that means? Do you know how to load a Red Fin? I think the bulk of today’s casters do not.

Red Fins and other plastic swimmers have legions of fans and for one simple reason: they produce. If a school of 8- to 15-pound stripers are picking through the rips of an inlet, fasten a swimmer to your line and get ready. I think Red Fins hold a slight edge over other plastics because they do not contain rattles. How many baitfish have you seen that rattle? I believe this is why fewer large fish fall for Bombers and the like. Which brings us to the next reason a big fish might let your swimmer pass by: depth.

Swimmers just don’t get down in heavy current or off of a deep beach. Rattling along several feet from the bottom, that noisy plug might excite a smaller bass and bring him up out of his holding spot to latch on. All the while, that larger fish waits for something else to come closer to her nose. A loaded plug swims deeper and less erratically, down where that lunker is lurking and with a much slower, more seductive wiggle. Baitfish just don’t swim like most swimming plugs, and big bass know the difference. Slow down that wiggle, run it a little deeper and add a few precious feet to your cast. That cow is getting ever closer.

Red Fins and other plastic swimmers have legions of fans and for one simple reason: they produce.

Be careful not to “overload” a plug, since the act of filling it naturally deadens the action. You may be able to cast a mile, and your plug may be coming back across that inlet current right near the bottom, but if it has no action, you may as well be casting a piece of driftwood. Be sure to swim-test plugs after loading to ensure they’ve maintained some semblance of their original swimming action.

Don’t think for a minute that Red Fins are the only plugs that can be loaded. Bombers, Mambos or any other hollow plug can be loaded, and with a little experimentation success will be achieved. Try loading a Mambo the same way the Red Fin is loaded, although you’ll have to drill the hole further back because the rattle is contained in the head of this plug.

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