Not just for soup or stripers.
Fluke fishing has changed a lot over the years. In the earlier days a standard three-way swivel with sinker on one leg and a 3-foot leader and 4/0 hook on the other was all we ever used. Baited with a live killie or strip of squid and you had the makings for a great day.
After the standard rig came rigs with beads and spinners in-line, again attached to a three-way swivel and sinker. As we progressed even further, anglers began opting for a bucktail in place of the sinker, fished on a dropper loop and the standard 3-foot leader and hook just above it. Then we went to just straight bucktails.
In today’s game, there are numerous options for fluking from the oldies but goodies, to new and even more glamorous rigs. One rig, which isn’t exactly new, but perhaps new to many anglers, is a large spoon on a longer leader. I only just started using these rigs a few years back when Capt. Tom Cornicelli of Back Bay Outfitters (516-446-2286) on Long Island introduced me to his rig called The Bottom Feeder.
The rig comes in a variety of colors, hooks (single or double), beads and lifelike fish patterns as well as standard chartreuse, green and other colors. Made from high end terminal gear – Seaguar leader, Gamakatsu hooks and super strong and durable snaps and swivels – the basis behind the Bottom Feeder rig is it looks more like a baitfish than most rigs and features a larger profile, thus enticing larger fluke. Capt. Tom suggests that when you are fishing deep water (over 25 feet) let the rig out slowly to ensure a superior presentation.
M3Tackle (m3tackle.com) makes a wide array of spoon rigs with spoons from 3 inches up to 5.5 inches. Rig the Shocker Pink 5.5 and add a small whole squid to the tandem hooks and you are ready for action. Another is the Thundermist (thundermistlures.com) which also comes with tandem hooks in sizes of 3-3/4 and 4-3/4 inches. The combination of flutter, flash and your favorite natural or artificial bait will easily produce a good catch, even in tough conditions.
These spoons catch because fluke are ravenous feeders and will come way off the bottom to grab an easy meal. The key with these spoons is to be methodical about your approach. This is not let’s go fluking and just drag it along the bottom and hope. Each of these spoons reacts differently based on current and drift conditions.
For the Bottom Feeder, which I have used with success, I found it’s best to use a bucktail that will keep your rig on the bottom, but not dragging. I want my bucktail hopping off the bottom, with my spoon rig trailing behind. Fluke see the smaller bait (bucktail) being chased by a larger bait (spoon) and react to the larger, more filling meal. If the drift is very fast, you can try heavier bucktails or even a ball rig, but regardless, I like to keep the weight under 4 ounces. Once you start getting above that range, I feel you lose sensitivity on the rod end, and action on the spoon.
Doormats become doormats because they are the sharpest tool in the shed, and know exactly what it takes to shake a hook. For fluke, you have to be slow and steady to win the race and there really is no need for a vicious hookset. Fluke generally engulf a bait pretty deep on the initial take. In fact, some fluke will actually lie on the bait for several seconds, then let it slide out before engulfing it. That is why if you feel dead weight, do not assume you are stuck. Slowly lift your rod and if it is a fluke, it should be hooked. But again, I cannot emphasize this more – reel slowly and steady, maintaining pressure, but not pulling the fish towards the surface at a record pace.
The bait you use is not as critical as making sure your spoon rig is active and imitating what I believe is the larger meal chasing the smaller one. Using a spoon rig for fluke is not new, but it surely adds another option when in search of that elusive doormat you dream of.