Bluefish are an extremely hard fishing fish and their ferocious nature makes them the piranha of the ocean. These are fun fish to catch! Bluefish typically swim in schools so when you start catching bluefish there is often lots of excitement. Bluefish have sharp teeth so it is a good idea to use a wire leader. Bluefish respond well to chum during the day or night and are often targeted by party boats.
The size of bluefish vary greatly and can be commonly caught from 6 inches to 20 pounds. Bluefish are an abundant fish although there were population concerns in the early 1990s. These fish migrate all along the east coast of the USA from the tip of Maine to the Flordia Keys, inshore and offshore! Bluefish are also prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico.
Here Are the Best Bluefish Fishing Lures and Baits
1. Live Bait or Cut Bait
Price: Around $2
Cut bait is listed as number one because it always works!A 6/0 Mustad hook is a great size for an average 1 to 5-pound bluefish.
If a properly sized piece of cut bait is put in front of a bluefish it is going to bite. Small bluefish can be caught using a small piece of fish, squid or shrimp. For bigger bluefish I would recommend a piece of fish, about 1/5 of a bunker. For really small bluefish a wire leader is probably not even needed if 20-pound or stronger fishing line is being used. For bluefish over two pounds using a wire leader is a good idea.
Price: Around $6. AFW steel wire is a great way to make cheap bluefish rigs without and special tools are not required. Pliers to cut the wire, a swivel, hook, and piece of wire is all that is needed. For bluefish #4, 38 pound wire is best. Use #7, 69 pound wire if you think something bigger might eat the bluefish! Number #10 124 pound wire is perfect for shark rigs. The length of wire should be about 12 inches.
Price: Around $5. A barrel or crane swivel is used to connect to the wire using a haywire twist. The ther end of the swivel shoudl be tied to the fishing line with a palmer knot or uni knot.
This is what the rig should look like only it will be much shorter, a 2 to 30-inch length of wire is best. The swivel would be within the loop on the opposite end of the hook.
2. Diamond Jigs
Price: Around $6
If you are not sure what depth the bluefish are at a diamond jig is a good option. These are fished by casting a short distance out and letting the jig sink all the way to the bottom and then retrieving the lure quickly. Reeling it in part way and then dropping it back to the bottom multiple times during the retrieve works well if the boat is drifting and the fish are close to the bottom.
The Silver Diamond Jig comes in weights from 2 ounces to 6 ounces. The tube skirts of the jigs come in red, green or white and a single hook. The red skirt works best when fishing in shallow water less than 20 feet deep.
3. Acme Kastmaster Lure with Buck Tail
Price: Around $13
When fishing in shallow water or when there is surface action a Kastmaster spoon is a great choice. These can be reeled slow to get deeper in the water column or fast near the surface. These can also work well when trolled. A plug like a bomber would work well when there is surface action as well however the weight of a Kastmaster makes it so the lure can be cast further than most plugs. Bluefish teeth can really scratch up expensive plugs so a spoon is a good option when targeting bluefish.
Kastmaster spoon with tail works great for casting from the surf, casting from a boat or trolling from a boat. This make this a top lure for bluefish in any situation!
4. Snagging Rigs
Price: Around $8
One fun way to catch big bluefish is to snag a bunker with a snagging rig and then having the bluefish come and eat the injured fish. This works for striped bass as well. The bait ball of bunker needs to show signs that predator fish are around for it to work good though. If the bunker are splashing out of the water they are likely being chased by predator fish. Once a bunker has been snagged the bail of the reel needs to be opened so the bunker sinks below the school to where the predator fish are lurking. This is a fun way to fish but is actually quite difficult in practice because the snagged bunker can swim or drift too far away from the school of bunker. If the snagged bunker does not catch a fish after about 30 seconds, reel it up and try again. The snagged bunker can also be cut up and used as cut bait.
5. Storm Swim Shad
Price: Around $4
The swim shad is a go-to for stripers and bluefish. Bluefish tear into the rubber and frequently bite of the tails of swim shad. Otherwise, it would probably be ranked as the second-best lure. It can be reeled in quickly near the top of the water or jigged on the bottom which makes this a very versatile lure. I have had good luck with the peal white and shad patterns.
These come in sizes 03, 04, 05, 06. These are 3 to 6 inches in length respectfully. Use storm shad size that corresponds to the size of bait in the area. In general, for bluefish, less than 2 pounds use a three inch and for bluefish over 2 pounds, a 5-inch swim shad is a good choice. These are very similar to the Tsunami swim shad jigs which also work great.
Just in case you do not believe me about bluefish teeth here are two jaws that we preserved. Notice the teeth are connected into the jaw bone unlike shark teeth which are completely in cartilage. These jaws are from two older bluefish and were actually missing about 25% of their teeth, mostly in the lower jaws, which I found interesting.
6. Umbrella Rigs
Price: Around $27
When fishing for striped bass with umbrella rigs a major concern is bluefish tearing up the rig. Umbrella rigs are expensive and bluefish can damage the swim shads very quickly. They can bite off the tails, cut into the swim shad and cut off the monofilament lines. That being said they do catch lots of bluefish! I would recommend bringing extra swim shad, hooks and swivels! Below is a link to a basic umbrella rig and parts needed to replace cut off swim shad.
The umbrella rigs I fished with had between five and 13 swim shad and most of the shad had hooks. There is no guarantee the fish is going to bite the trailing shad. This also allows more than one fish to be caught at a time.
A sturdy pole and reel are needed to troll an umbrella rig. A 20 class trolling reel is minimum. In line lead trolling weights can also be used to help get the umbrella rig to deeper depths.
The five shad umbrella rig above is the basic trolling rig that will attract and catch more fish then single jig shad.
Price: Around $8. Shown above is six-inch swim shad body, without a hook! These are used to make an umbrella rig or replace the swim shad that had been cut or torn up by a fish. Common colors are black/white, white, white/red and yellow.
Price: Around $2. An 8/0 Mustad 2407 saltwater hooks are the proper size for the shad bodies that are used in the umbrella rigs.
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more bluefish!
If you have any suggestions for top bluefish lures and baits, leave a comment below!
Captain Cody has worked on charter fishing boats in the Florida Keys, Virgin Islands and Alaska. Cody grew up in Pennsylvania and has also done extensive freshwater fishing including bass fishing tournaments. Cody strives to provide detailed information about the best fishing gear and tactics to help both novice and experienced anglers have a more productive and enjoyable time on the water. Cody also has a background in aerospace engineering and neuroscience but really only takes pride in being good at one thing and that is fishing!