Teasers work wonders on surf stripers, here’s how to choose the right one for you.
In my home waters along the Jersey Coast, I can tell you that 50 percent of the surf stripers I catch are hooked on the teaser above the lure. Now granted, I’m not talking about 40- to 50-pound bass, although my largest surf bass of 51 pounds was hooked on a Tsunami sand eel rigged as a teaser, but generally all bass from shorties of 20 inches up to 20 pounds or so seem to dial-into the teaser. A couple trains of thought permeate the reasoning from the obvious that a teaser dopplegangs the bait in the wash, which could be rainfish, spearing, peanut bunker or sand eels, to the fact that a larger fish sees the plug behind the teaser as competition and thus goes to crush the smaller fleeing baitfish ahead of it before that predator can get to it. Whatever the case, teasers work wonders on surf bass, here’s how to choose the right one.
Sand eels are prevalent nearly year-round, but mainly during the fall into winter months when they unearth and extract themselves from the sand at sunrise to flitter about in the suds. Depending on the size of the sand eels you can choose a variety of soft rubber baits to mimic the profile. The ol’ school Felmlee sand eel is a no-brainer, as is the tried and true Red Gill, both rigged on a size 3/0 baitholder or siwash-type hook. When larger fish are around, I rig the teaser dropper with a Tsunami 6-inch sand eel. Cast these out and reel in slowly, nearly dragging the bottom for the best shot at hooking-up.
Small baitfish such as bay anchovies and spearing have slender profiles, and nothing better mimics a lost baitfish better than a white bucktail hair Clouser Minnow or Vision Rainfish, all rigged on 2/0 siwash hooks. For the fly guys, the Bob Popovics Surf Candy seems to get the nod from all the comments on my Instagram account when asked about favorite teasers. Whichever small bait imitation you choose, toss these out when you can see the rainbait dimpling on the water surface, or when blind-casting during night hours. White and white/chartreuse are always hot colors.
Peanuts hold a wider shape and you need something wide but light enough to cast out that has no real air drag on it. Enter the Lefty’s Deceiver or Enrico Puglisi’s Peanut Bunker. Though technically flies, you can loop these creations on the dropper to effectively look like a peanut bunker. Perfect to throw in the fall when schools of peanuts are getting exploded on in the sloughs.
Though mainly used during bottom fishing endeavors, Berkley Gulp grubs like 3- to 4-inch swimmin minnows give off a tantalizing, undulating action above the main lure that always seems to trick up bass. They also provide a bit of scent to convince wary bass to bite. Again, thread one on a 3/0 Octopus style hook.
A few quick tips on fishing teasers. Absolutely DO NOT USE teasers if big bluefish are around as you will inevitably lose both lures on your line when the blue bites the teaser, severing you from your lure. Use teasers on dropper loops tied roughly 20 to 24 inches up from the lure. Anything closer than 10 inches doesn’t look natural in the water and the fish will stay off it. And last but not least, if you hook a fish on the main plug, don’t forget about that teaser hook swinging a few feet above the main offering. Many a forgetful angler has embedded the teaser hook in their face or arm as they reach down to land a fish, quickly ruining an otherwise productive outing!