Surf: Choose Your Metal - The Fisherman

Surf: Choose Your Metal

The slender Ava jig is a good choice when sand eels are present.

Metals come in many shapes and sizes. Know what to throw when the time comes.

We’re not talking about the tracks from Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Anthrax. That was pure metal. Fishing-wise, I still love throwing metal around. In the realm of the surf, metals play a big role in matching the hatch of baitfish to target species such as striped bass, bluefish, fluke, little tunny, bonito, Spanish mackerel, and weakfish. Most importantly when choosing the right metal is to focus on profile and weight. Here’s a guide to pick and choose in reference to matching with bait profiles.

Sand Eels

Long, thin metals best match the profile of sand eels. Offerings include Deadly Dicks, Madd Mantis sand eel, AOK T-Hex, and the tried and true Ava jigs. These types of lures are best drawn slowly back across the sand or reeled in at a slower pace to mimic sand eels as they unearth at sunrise and flitter about during the daytime hours. Generally, 1/2 to 1-1/2-ounce weights are best to hold in the surf. These are also Ava jigs ranging from 007 to A27 size. Sand eel metals crush striped bass, fluke, bluefish, and weakfish and should always be carried when these slender fish treats are present.


The small, somewhat thin but wide bodies of spearing and rainbait are mimicked by many a metal. Lures include Williamson Gomoku jigs, Madd Mantis bay anchovy, Hogy Epoxy, Joe Baggs Resin jigs, Tsunami Forktail Candy. Generally, these lures span from 1/2 to 1-1/2 ounce before they get too bulky to effectively cruise through the water. Cast out and retrieve at a lightning quick speed to trick the speedster family of fish. The small baitfish lures are lights out usually for the likes of false albacore, Spanish mackerel, and bonito.

Peanut Bunker

Think of wide profile lures here that can match baits that are 2 to 4 inches long and 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide. Luhr Jensen Crippled Herring and Acme Kastmasters generally fit the bill here. Weights can range from 1 to 2 ounces. The wide profile flashes and attracts the likes of stripers, blues, and weakfish. Especially cast these around the peanut bunker schools for a perfect profile match. A moderate retrieve is best as peanut bunker aren’t as quick as spearing or rainbait in general. You can add in a slight twitch for extra action if the fish are being finicky



Metal is typically associated with daytime use but throwing metal at night can be equally as productive. Tins with tubes and powder painted can be the perfect nighttime profile. They also have great castability and allow you to reach further structure.

When the large baits hit the surf, the basic big gun is the Luhr Jensen Kroc Spoon or Crippled Herring in 2 to 3 ounces. This is for when large rods and reels are used to effectively launch out the heavy lures. Work them almost like a bunker spoon, pulling it in at a moderate pace to allow for the big flash and wobble. The lure can even be dragged along the sand to imitate an injured bunker or herring along the seafloor. Deeper water areas off of Inlets and sluices can hold the large lures more effectively.

With any surf fishing, it’s paramount to match the hatch then to pick the right lure for the right job if you want repeated success. Metals come in many shapes and sizes. Know what to throw when the time comes. This fall, all of the aforementioned metals will be in play. Make sure you have these in your metal playlist come October and November.



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