Best Snook Lures for Florida Fishing
In this article, I will list the best snook lures for Florida fishing. Snook are arguably the top inshore saltwater species in Florida. Some may certainly argue tarpon, bone fish, or permit. However, snook are more widely distributed than the species and can even be caught in freshwater rivers and lakes. Anglers do not need a large selection of lures in order to be successful, this small selection of 6 lures will get the job done in every situation and angler fishing for snook will find themselves in.
My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I am a fishing charter captain in Sarasota, Florida. I target snook regularly on my fishing charters, most often using artificial lures. These are the lures that I actually use to catch snook for my clients. In particular, my clients catch snook in the cooler months when they move into area rivers, creeks, and residential canals. They are more concentrated during this time of year and easier to locate.
While live bait catches plenty of snook, artificial lures do have advantages in some circumstances. Lures allow anglers to cover a lot more water in search of fish, this includes both casting and trolling. Fish will also attack a lure when it is not hungry, out of irritation, anger, or even excitement. There is no need to procure live bait and keep it alive. Finally, I just personally find catching fish with artificial lures to be more fun and challenging.
Best snook lures for Florida fishing
Snook are found in tropical waters in North America and Central America. They are fairly plentiful in coaster Rica and other countries. However, when discussing snook fishing in the United States, it is pretty much limited to Florida and a very small section of southern Texas. Basically, anglers looking to catch a snook in the United States will come to Florida to do so.
As the waters of the world have warmed up a tad, snook have extended their range. It used to be very unusual to catch a snook north of Tampa on the West Coast or Daytona on the East Coast. However, that is changing in the area around Crystal River has a thriving snook population. On the East Coast, they are being caught as far north as Jacksonville.
A quick note about rods and reels. on the vast majority of my fishing charters, I use spinning tackle. This is mostly because it is more comfortable for the majority of my clients. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 2500 3000 series real and 20 pound braided line is perfect. A similar bait casting rod and reel combination is fine for more experienced anglers who prefer that type of tackle. Anglers can read more about fishing tackle and lures and shop if desired in the link below.
1) Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait
Without a doubt, my favorite snook fishing lure is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. It is a hard plastic bait that is in the family of jerk baits. These are long slender lures that have a very erratic action in the water. They can be cast and retrieved as well as trolled. It is definitely my go to bait when chasing snook with artificial lures.
I use two different sizes and three different colors of the Rapala X-Rap when snook fishing. The two sizes are the 08 and 10, which are free and 1/4 inches long and 4 inches long respectively. These two sizes realistically mimic the bait fish that I have in the area where I fish. This is also true of most of the state of Florida, other than circumstances where they are feeding on large mullet.
I use three different colors of this lure went fishing for snook. These are Ghost (white), Pilchard, and Gold. White and pilchard work very well in the clear waters of the inland bays and beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Pilchard has and olive green back and very closely mimics mullet and other forage species. Ghost or white works very well when snook are feeding on scaled sardines and other light silvery colored bait fish.
Gold is definitely my go to color when fishing the tannin stained waters of Florida rivers. Gold with the black back really stands out in this environment as it twitches and flashes in the water. I will also use it occasionally in creeks and residential canals.
Techniques for fishing the X-Rap for snook
The Rapala X-Rap is fairly easy to use and a lot of fun to fish. The smaller model dives down a couple feet below the surface while the larger bait will go down 4-5 feet. The lure is cast out towards likely looking structure such as a dock, mangrove shoreline, fallen tree, oyster bar, or even over in open flat. The rod tip is jerked sharply followed by a pause. This pause is very important is that is often when fish will strike.
One trick anglers can use to get the proper action is after twitching the bait sharply pointing the rod tip directly at the lure. This will naturally put a bunch of slack in the line and caused the lure to hover in place. Snook and other game fish find this irresistible and this is often when it will be attacked. It also results in the bait really jerking forward when the slack is taken up.
This lure is excellent for trolling as well. I use it often on my Sarasota fishing charters in creeks, rivers, and residential canals. Many of these areas are no wake so we might as well be fishing when idling through. It is an excellent way to locate and catch both snook and jacks.
2) Gulp 5″ Jerk Shad
My second favorite snook fishing lure is the Gulp 5” Jerk Shad. It is a long slender bait similar to what many anglers would call a fluke. It is a better choice when I want to slow down and thoroughly fish an area. It is extremely effective when bounced down the edge of and oyster bar or when fished around any type of structure.
While there are many different color options, I have found white to be by far the most productive color when fishing for snook with this lure. White is traditionally an excellent color for snook, so this makes perfect sense. I will fish it on a jig head in open water and a swim bait hook an area where there are more snags. The weight used will be determined by the depth and current, but 1/8 ounce is a good all-around size.
The lure is cast out towards any structure and allowed to sink. It is not at all uncommon for the lure to be taken on the initial fall. It is allowed to settle than hopped up a foot or so off the bottom with a sharp jerk and allowed to fall again. Generally, I will repeat this several times then reel the lure in and cast out again. However, there are times when working the bait all the way back to the boat will produce, anglers just need to experiment and see what the fish wants that day.
3) Bass Assassin baits
Bass Assassin Bates are my third choice when it comes to snook fishing lures. The two baits that I use most often are the 4 inch Sea Shad and the 5 inch Die Dapper. I normally fish the Sea Shad on a jig head, usually 1/8 ounce. It is an excellent search bait that I will use on the flats and backcountry areas. It is cast out and retrieved back in using an erratic jig and fall motion. White with a chartreuse tail and new penny are my favorite colors.
When fishing the rivers for snook, I will use the larger Die Dapper on a swim bait hook. The lure is cast out and retrieved in using a slow, steady retrieve with very little twitching or action from the rod tip. The design of the lure causes the tail to swim and puts out a ton of action and vibration. Darker colors are best in the rivers. This is more of a big fish bait that gets less action but tends to catch a larger snook.
4) Rapala Skitter prop
Every serious angler fishing for snook will at times toss a top water plug and I am certainly no exception. I am a Rapala guy, in my favorite top water lure for snook is the Rapala Skitter prop. Many anglers prefer the walk the dog style baits such as the Rapala Skitter Walk or the Heddon Zara Spook. These are fine baits, but I prefer the Skitter prop for a couple of reasons.
As a charter boat captain, I need lures that have a lot of built in action. That means that anglers without a ton of experience or skill still have a good chance to catch fish. That is where a bait like the Skitter prop really shines. The propeller on the rear makes it so easy to fish, putting out a ton of commotion and action with very little effort.
The lure is cast out and allowed to settle. The angler then sharply twitches the rod tip causing the bait to jerk forward with the rear propeller digging into the water. It makes a very distinctive sound along with the commotion that will attract snook and other game fish to be folded into thinking it is a wounded bait fish. It is very important when fishing this bait and other top water baits to wait until the weight of the fish is felt before coming tight. Setting the hook too soon will just result in missing the fish along with a dangerous situation where the lure will be flying back at the angler.
5) Gold Johnson Silver Minnow
The Johnson Silver Minnow is a fishing lure that has been around a long time. It was originally designed to catch largemouth bass around lily pads and other vegetation. It has a single hook with a weed guard which results in its snagging less often and being able to be worked through quite heavy cover and vegetation. Saltwater anglers figured out that it is quite effective on a variety of saltwater species, including snook.
I primarily use this lure when fishing a large open shallow areas. It is a fantastic search bait as it can be cast a long way. It also puts out a ton of flash and vibration which will draw fish to it. The Silver Minnow is easy to fish, making it an excellent choice for novice anglers. The lure is basically cast out a long distance then reeled and steadily, just over the top of the submerged vegetation.
The Johnson Silver Minnow is available in a variety of sizes and colors. Most saltwater anglers, myself included, favor the gold finish. However, silver can be effective in very clear water as well. I generally prefer the 1/2 ounce size, but will bump it up to the 3/4 ounce size at times. It is definitely an excellent choice when there is the opportunity to catch redfish mixed in on the flat with snook.
6) Gulp Shrimp
I use Gulp Shrimp quite often on my Sarasota fishing charters. I really find that it bridges the gap between artificial lures and live bait. In all honesty, I had to choose between using these and live shrimp I would choose Gulp Shrimp. It is only last on my list of snook fishing lures because I generally use them when other species are also available.
This lure is an excellent choice in the cooler months when anglers want to scale down their offerings. I almost always fish it on a light jig head with a stout hook. It works very well when bounced on the edge of and oyster bar or drag slowly through a pothole. It is also an excellent choice for anglers fishing at night around lighted docs and bridges. In that situation, hooking the gulp shrimp through the nose with little or no weight and allowed to float naturally in the current is generally the best presentation.
In conclusion, my article on the best snook lures for Florida fishing will help anglers wade through all of the information in endless choices available to them and hopefully simplify the process of choosing the best snook fishing lures!