Neil Taylor, www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
The dreaded “saltwater piranha”- the pinfish, single-handedly responsible for the eventual destruction of the world? Exaggeration? OK then, they are wrecking crews for whatever they can get their one-quarter inch diameter mouths around? Exaggeration? As I once said “If they had opposable thumbs, they would open up your cooler and eat your lunch.” In particular, on soft plastic lures, pinfish can be a major problem a full ten months of the year in most of Florida inshore waters. They will usually attack the tail end of the baits, stretching and ripping the tip end of the tail off.
Veteran anglers learn the difference between the strike of a gamefish and that of the pinfish. Making lures last longer is a function of technique. Keep this in mind- Pinfish do not cut the plastic with their teeth, they stretch it and rip it by force. The knowledgeable angler will make the adjustment of letting the pinfish attack the lure and not attempt to pull it away or “set the hook” (with either jabbing action bringing the tail to breaking strength) and may even stop the retrieve altogether if they feel a pinfish grab the tail and swim hard in the other direction. The expense aside, time changing tails is time that could be used fishing so minimizing the destruction means more fishing time so try to avoid putting that stress on your plastics when you know they are pinfish strikes.
Is losing the end of the tail, the end of this bait? Can you still use it? Can you modify it where it will be appealing altered from its original design? Are you a complete miser by not just putting on a new tail? Below are some ideas for different styles that may help you to get some more use out of damaged lures.
With the 12 Fathom Mullet, a paddletail, they can still be used “as is” with the tail knocked off but are usually only effective worked slowly in deeper water situations for speckled or silver trout. If you are targeting redfish, you are better off putting on a new tail. If you are going to still use the lure- Here are some ideas on how you can “scissor” your way to modifying an “injured Mullet” (or “Snaggled SlamR”) and continue using it.
For the Mullet- with the damaged plastic tail on the jighead, experiment with trimming the plastic to create something that looks appealing. Cutting off a lot of the belly makes it a more slender bait, and adds some action. You can then consider different cuts from the tail toward the jighead hook that create some “tentacles”.
The SlamR is a tremendous bait, but like the Mullet- the very tail-end may regularly fall prey to the lowly pinfish. Unlike the Mullet, the SlamR is actually a great bait to continue to use with just the forked- tail missing. If a subsequent strike shortens the tail even more it is actually better to modify this lure if you wish to continue to use it (or save to use if you run out of other options). Similar to what you did with the injured Mullet, take a scissors or exacto-knife and turn your SlamR into a fantastic Split-Tail grub. This is an easy operation, starting at the narrowest section of the tail and cutting right down the middle of the plastic going up to within one-quarter of an inch from where the hook pokes out of the plastic. [Hint: If you like to catch flounder, this is a fantastic situation to bring these injured lures back into the picture. The split-tail SlamR grub is very enticing to flounder and to other species, give it a try!]
Keep a good supply of replacement tails. But if you are in a pinch and need to use “damaged goods” accept the challenge, become a craftsman and modify that altered 12 Fathom lure and use it to trick a fish! You may find that your damaged lures have effectiveness and a longer useful life than you ever knew.