No mess, no fuss — these 10 artificial fluke baits will get the job done this summer.
You might consider yourself a meat fisherman for fluke — and there’s nothing wrong with that! The ‘real deal’ has produced summer flatties for countless years. Heck, at one point in time, real bait was the only thing around to use for them. If you are any sort of fluke enthusiast though, you’ll know by now that the market has expanded tenfold, and an array of different and may I add, highly productive artificial baits are currently on the market for use. If you search the definition of artificial, you’ll get something like made by human skill, produced by humans, or something similar to that definition on most search sites. All of the items on my list fall under that category, and for the ones that still contain fish parts, you have to remember the product itself was still produced by humans, which, at least in my mind, still makes it an artificial bait.
Let’s get into it. Here are the hot ones on the market right now that will indeed work during your 2023 fluke season.
It’s all in the name — DoormatadorZ is an artificial soft plastic literally designed for ‘doormats’ themselves. Curly tail designs are a proven shape that will gain the interest of just about any fluke out there. DoormatadorZ is solely a curly tail design available in 5 and 6-inch models. They are versatile because they can be fished on numerous rigs, including bucktails, teasers, and good old fashion fluke rigs. The artificial bait itself is infused with a 100-percent natural ProCure Flounder Pounder Super Gel scent, which adds to the overall appeal of it in the water. They also feature ElaZtech construction which increases the product’s durability, meaning more fish per single bait, and that means less time changing baits. Three baits are in each pack, and they’re available in eight different high-vis appealing colors.
From the extremely popular Swimming Mullet to the newer Gulp Grub and, of course, the Gulp Shrimp, Berkley Gulp Alive soft plastics are a staple in many fluke addict’s arsenals. The product almost requires no further explanation based on its popularity and success, but that wouldn’t be fair. It’s as easy as adding it to your favorite fluke or summer flounder rig, dropping it to the bottom, giving it a few jigs, and letting the action and scent-dispersing magic do the rest. A big part of the success behind this product is the heavy scent it gives off in the water, which in turn keeps the interest of any fluke following it even longer until they’re ready to commit. I’ve found the 4-inch Swimming Mullet or Grub to be the most versatile for me. While there are literally dozens of colors to choose from, Pink, Chartreuse, and Pearl White are my first choices—not always to say they don’t all work because they do.
FISHBITES DIRTY BOXER LURES
These lures were put in my hands a few years back when I first started with The Fisherman by the late Fred Golofaro. Fred would always talk about them, and I truly didn’t realize their fish-catching capabilities until I put them to the task on a party boat trip with him on the east end of Long Island. By the end of the trip, I had my limit with several throwbacks. Trips like that one were duplicated since then, proving that the Dirty Boxer curly tails from Fishbites were a killer fluke artificial and not just a ‘fluke.’ Even though these lures are actually made with real fish parts, I still include them under my artificial list since when all is said and done, they’re made artificially by humans. They have their own unique scent and hold up quite well fish after fish. The baits come in six to a pack and are available in eight different colors. The five-inch model is my favorite for backwaters, while the newer 6-inch model you may have received as a subscription gift from The Fisherman booth at a winter event gets the nod in deeper ocean waters.
FISHLAB MAD EEL
While fishing some well-known fluke grounds with some Mad Eels from Fishlab on hand, Fisherman owner Mike Caruso, staff artist Savio Mizzi and I tested these soft plastics in depths of around 100 feet of water. Our results were a limit of fluke by the end of the trips, with a few of the bigger specimens pushing the 10-pound mark. The Green Mackerel pattern was my lure of choice due to the presence of tinker mackerel in the area. We “matched the hatch,” and it paid off, proving the Mad Eel was another worthy artificial lure to bounce along the bottom for summer flounder. The lures are available in 1 ounce, up to 5-1/4 ounce, meaning there will be one for the shallow bays, all the way to the deep water fluke grounds. Nine colors are available throughout the line, giving you a choice for almost any situation.
SPRO WAVE TAIL GRUBS
Everyone knows Spro for their Prime Bucktails regarding fluking, but some of you don’t know that Spro offers their own variation of a curly tail called the Wave Tail Grub. The neat part about this soft plastic is that it was literally designed for fishing on the back of one of their bucktails. Don’t be afraid to use it on a bare jig head or teaser hook either. The Amino Bite Scent attractant, in combination with its ribbed body, offers much appeal and causes fish to keep holding on for longer periods, giving you more time to set the hook. Of course, its curly tail also gives off excellent fluke-attracting action when jigged off the bottom or reeled through the water column. You have 16 colors to choose from, along with three different sizes, which include 3, 4-1/4, and 6 inches.
NO LIVE BAIT NEEDED 3-INCH PADDLE TAIL
The perfect artificial bait to mimic a variety of baits that enter the backwaters along the Northeast. This 3-inch Paddle Tail, especially in colors like Green Back or Mud Minnow, replicates most fluke forage to very close. Equipped with the NLBN signature jig head made for these soft baits, they won’t come off catching fish after fish. The wide body and paddle tail action give fluke an enticing offering. Especially when worked around drop-offs, they’re irrespirable. Also, watch for NLBN’s limited batch colors on their website for even more exciting patterns.
TSUNAMI GLASS MINNOW JIG WITH SILICONE SKIRT
Like the already popular Glass Minnow, but with some additions, The Tsunami Glass Minnow Jig’s added silicone skirt features realistic glowing tentacles, giving this lure additional action in the water. The black nickel round-bend hook boasts two barbs on the shank to hold your favorite soft bait in place and excellent hook point penetration when setting the hook. The jigs are available in two sizes — 3/8 and 1/2 ounce. They make an excellent addition to a Chicken Rig. Still, if the conditions allow for it, you can fish them by themselves in ultra-finesse fluke fishing situations. You can find this artificial in four different color patterns.
NOMAD DESIGN SQUIDTREX
Yeah, it’s no secret that fluke love squid. Their migration of them influences some of the first fluke bites of the year in certain locations. Right behind them are the fluke, ready for one of their favorite meals. Nomad Designs has newly released a lure that looks so much like a squid; it would even fool me if it were to see it in the water. The Squidtrex can be jigged vertically along the bottom, both fast and slow, depending on what the fluke want on a specific day. Durability is not a question with the lure either. It’s formulated out of super strong TPE soft plastic and internally through-wired. The lure also comes rigged with high-quality BKK assist hooks, guaranteeing great hook penetration. Additional squid scent has also been added to these lures. The Squidtrex comes in weights from 1 to 4-3/4 ounces. Seven color patterns are also available
AL GAG’S WHIP-IT EEL FLUKE RIG
Striper fanatics already know about the success of the Whip-It Eel from Gags. But do you know about the new Whip-It Eel Fluke Rig? This hi-lo rig features the already proven 6-inch bait being chased by a smaller 4-inch bait, giving a curious fluke different size offerings to take a look at and choose from on any given tide. All the rigs are hand-tied using 50-pound ANDE line with included terminal tackle. Just add weight, and you’re ready to go. The rig comes in two of the most popular colors on the Gag’s soft plastic line — Pink Silver, and Pearl.
One great thing about all the lures on this list is the ease and convenience of using them. You don’t have to refrigerate any of them, making for less hassle when out on the water. While real bait will always get the job done and will for years to come, these artificial alternatives won’t come up short either when it comes to putting flatties on the deck. Stuff any of the ones listed into your tackle bag and forget about them until the minute you’re on the boat ready to catch fish.