I live in New Jersey for four years and my favorite thing to do was fish for striped bass! There was spring striper season and fall striper season. Lucky for people that love to fish for striped bass you can catch them day or night. When these fish are running it is honestly hard to find time to sleep. You can fish for then from a boat or you can fish for them form the surf, jetty, rocks, riverbank or piers. Often times you have to follow the bait hunt them down. Knowing the best lures and baits for striped bass definitely gives you the advantage.
Striped bass are found in the nearshore waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. They’re are in Virginia and Maryland in the wintertime and migrate North of New Jersey in the Summertime.
Some striped bass stay year-round in all of these areas and are known as resident bass. The bigger striped bass migrates and spawn in rivers. Striped bass often follows baitfish such as bunker while they migrate. When striped bass are migrating in the spring and fall the beaches are lined with fishermen, the boat ramps are busy and it is game on for fishing.
In this guide, I’ll show you my favorite striped bass lures and baits to use while trolling on a boat, drifting on a boat and from the shore. Depending on where you find the striped bass will depend on what you want to use for bait.
Here Are the Best Striped Bass Fishing Lures and Baits
1. Umbrella Rig
Price: Around $25
My most consistent way to catch striped bass was to troll with umbrella rigs. You can troll the whole beach area and find out where the fish are hanging out. There are many different color swim shad that are used. It is a good idea to buy extra shad bodies because the bluefish tend to tear them up. A relatively large trolling reel is needed to use umbrella rigs. A 30 class real would be perfect.
When trolling umbrella rigs it’s almost hard not to catch striped bass. When the striper are in season there are typically lots of boat fishing in a general area off the beach. Trolling umbrella rigs in that area and you should catch some striped bass. Look for schools of the bunker to troll around and for clam boats. Do not get to close to clam boats but they are one clam beds which is also where stripers hang out. I troll slowly for bass between 2-3.5 knots.
Price: Around $10
A pencil trolling weight is clipped on to the front of the umbrella rig. This helps keep the rig deeper in the water. I would recommend running two umbrella rigs one weighted and one not weighted and see which one starts catching fish and then put them at the depth that is catching the most fish. A 16-ounce weight will get the rig deeper in the water column. Be careful with the amount or line let out as this controls the depth of the umbrella rig. If too much line is let out the rig can hit the bottom and get snagged. I caught a huge fluke while trolling for striped bass which meant the rig was really close to the bottom!
2. Storm Swim Shad and Jigs
Price: Around $4
These are typically used in sizes 03, 04, 05 and 06 for striped bass. This is 3 inch to 6-inch lengths respectfully. Size 03 is good if the bait in the area is small and size 05 or 06 is good when schools of the full-size bunker are around.
Storm swim shad work great for striped bass. These baits look a lot like a bunker and can be easily fished at any depth. The swim shad is a jig and has a weight in the head of the fish. These come in a variety of colors and patterns. This Storm Shad is very similar to the Tsunami Swim Shad which also works great. A five-inch swim shad is a common size to use but the three-inch size is better if small baitfish are in the area.
3. Mojo Jigs
Price: Around $40
These are amazing jigs and are very similar to the style used by many charter captains. The jigs have are 8 ounces and 4 ounces. The skirt is made of nylon and mylar. The shad swimbait body is 9 inches long. These jigs come in chartreuse, black, white and a pink pearl. All of these are great colors.
These are great jigs by themselves but this setup but come with a tandem parachute rig so that you can use two baits at one time. I have not ever actually fish with two jigs set up like this but it seems like a great idea. Blue water candy also make a daisy chain swimbait lure setup with three shad bodies in front of a 12-ounce mojo jig.
4. Mojo Daisy Chain Lure
Price: Around $40
The rockfish candy is a daisy chain with a 9-inch jig that weighs 12 ounces. There are three daisy chain shads that are 6-inches in length. Color options include black, chartreuse, and white. There is also 16-ounce, 24-ounce, and 32-ounce version of this daisy chain. The bait comes rigged and ready to go.
I think this 12-ounce Mojo daisy chain is one of the ultimate striped bass lures. It can be trolled with a conventional reel similar to umbrella rigs or jigged with a spinning reel. The nylon fiber skirt on the jig is a great addition that is commonly used by charter captains that jig for striped bass.
5. Real Eel by Savage Gear
Price: Around $17
The Okuma fishing tackle savage gear Real Eel comes rigged with a top J-hook and a treble hook on the bottom of the jig. This jig comes in two sizes a 12 inch 2-3/4 ounce eel and a 16 inch 5-3/4 ounce eel. The color options include blue-black pearl and olive-black pearl.
Eels are one of a striped bass’s favorite food. This is the best imitation eel that I know of on the market. The large curly tail has great action even when retrieved slowly. This jig is heavy enough to slowly go deep and large enough to get the attention of and striper the sees the bait.
My dad caught the striped bass above on a pier in New Jersey. He brought a few live eels which I did not think were going to work at all. He cast out a weightless eel hooked through the nose a caught the striped bass on the first cast. I was very surprised! Had a bite on every eel after that as well until we ran out of eels. The thing was I was doing good at the pier with jigs, bunker, clams and just never tried live eels. Every trip is a little different so it is good if you can figure out what the bass as feeding on that day. Sometimes it is blood worms other times it is little shrimp or sand eel minnows. Try and match the bait to what the striped bass are feeding on right now.
6. The Long A Magnum Bomber
Price: Around $10
The Long A Magnum Bomber. This is a 7 inch 1.5-ounce plug that is great for surf fishing or trolling. It also suspends at about two feet when casting and five feet when trolling. This is your classic school bus bomber to use while surf fishing. It is a large heavy bait that can be caster far out to where the action is off the beach.
7. The Long Shot Minnow Bomber
Price: Around $5
The Long Shot Minnow Bomber. The 5 inch is 3/4 ounce, the 6 inch is 13/16 ounce and the 7 inch is 1 and 3/4 ounce. This plug dives about two feet when casting and five feet when trolling.
8. Chug’N Spook
Price: Around $5
This red and white Chug’N Spook is a 5 inch 1-ounce topwater lure. This lure has a rattle and front nose scoop that can make a popping sound. This lure is great for surf fishing when small and medium-sized striped bass are swimming through and breaking on bait. Most people say you can fish this walk the dog style but I would use it as popper to look like and injured fish to get that attention for and nice bass in the area.
9. Live Bunker Bait Fish
Price: Around $2
If you made it this far you must really want to catch striped bass so I will tell you my favorite bait for striped bass is a live bunker. All the lures above work great but if I had my choice I would pick a live bunker. Sometimes the bunker is so thick you can walk across it and it is easy to net or snag to get fresh bait and other days or seasons there just are not any bunker around. When there is some but not tons of bunker around is when it works best. When you can see the fish are feeding on the bait is the best time to fish that area.
Circle hooks are required by law in many locations and these hooks are a great way to catch and release striped bass safely. Size 7/0 or 8/0 is great when fishing for medium strippers. When bigger striped bass are around in the summertime a 10/0 size hook is a good idea.
Price: Around $9
As mentioned above there are two ways to catch bunker. The first is a snagging rig. The bunker can be snagged and fished right there and if a bass bites the snagging hook get used just like any other treble hook. The bunker can be reeled in and then set back out on a circle hook. This is the better way to do it but often if the striped bass are hanging out right under the bunker so if you let it sink after you snag one the is a good chance you will catch a striped bass or bluefish.
The second way to catch live bait is with a cast net. Below I show a video catching bait with my dad and friend Ryan. To learn more about the best cast nest and how to throw them check out our cast net page.
If the pole is set up with a braided line a fluorocarbon leader is needed. A 50lb leader with a 50-pound braided line is a good setup. Seaguar is top quality leader line but is also expensive. Any type or fluorocarbon leader line is better than a braided line and will work well. Tying the braided line to the leader line is best achieved with a line to line knot double uni knot is the easiest to tie. If you do not know how to tie two lines together a barrel or cane swivel works to attach the leader.
Price: Around $20
A bunker is my favorite but any bait will work on the hook. Typical fresh baits for striped bass include chunks of bunker, clams, bloodworms, and eels. These have different levels of success depending on what the bass are feeding on in the area and the time of year. A circle hook works well with all of these baits.
One important thing to mention is that any fish cut bait used should have the scales removed first. My friend and I were fishing from a pier and kept having bass run and then spit the hook when using a cut piece of the bunker. We were told that striped bass first scales a baitfish in a process that keeps the mouth of the striped bass open. If it is not scaled they will not clamp down hard to eat the bait and may spit it out of their mouth. If it is already scaled there is a better chance the fish will bite down and the circle hook will properly secure in the corner of the mouth.
Baitcasting fishing reels are typically used with striped bass so that poles can be left in holders while waiting for a fish to bite. For a circle hook, firm tension needs to be added to the line in order to hook the fish. The fish can always release the bait if it realizes something is wrong before tension is added. Try to quickly add tension to the line once it the fish starts running and the line is peeling off the reel. Of course remember not to set the hook when using a circle hook, just apply steady pressure.
10. Surf Rig with Bait
Price: Around $6
The classic surf fishing rig is used with live bait or cut bait. A surf rig is often called a slider rig because the weight is attached to the clip on the blue sliders shown above. The slider is above a barrel swivel on the line the barrel swivel is tied to a four-foot leader with a circle hook at the end.
Price: Around $9. A 3 oz pyramid sinker will work well in most situations. If there is a strong current a bigger sinker may be needed. If there is little to no current a smaller sinker can be used.
Price: Around $6. AFW mighty crane swivels can be used to attach the rig to the mainline.
Price: Around $7. An 8/0 circle hook is perfect for your average size striped bass.
Once the line is cast out the weight sinks the bottom and an additional line can be let out. The bait will then drift away from the pyramid sinker that is anchored on the bottom. If too much additional line is let out the bait might get tangled and it can be difficult to set the hook when a fish bites.
The pyramid sinker is important if there is a strong current. If there is no current a smaller sliding egg sinker on the line works well. The egg sinker is better because it is lighter and has a less likely chance of getting snagged on a rocky bottom.
The pictures above show a “fly” that I tied to catch striped bass at night. I noticed the bass were feeding on very very small shrimp near the light and were not interested in any plugs or jigs that I was using.
I took the treble hook off a lure that had some whiskers tied to the hook and I caught several bass with it.
This stopped working when all the whiskers fell off the hook. When I got home I tied the two flies above which caught the striped bass in the second picture. This striped bass above was caught from a pier at night.
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more striped bass!
If you have any suggestions for top striped bass 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!