Top 5 Saltwater Shrimp and Jerkbaits
Own these and you are outfitted for every region, condition, and inshore species that swims
Open the lid of any saltwater tackle box and you are certain to see a menagerie of shapes, sizes, and colors that is more dynamic than a confectionary (for all you kids, that means a candy shop). You might have to rub off some rust to appreciate the brilliant rainbow of colors, but trust it’s there.
To more fully grasp the eye-popping selection of available colors and schemes, sans rust, meander down the aisles of any well-stocked tackle shop. The Willy Wonka sights can easily overwhelm the senses; making actual selections can turn into an exercise in extended head-scratching. So, to simplify shopping, we’ve amassed a Top-5 list of inshore saltwater shrimp lures and jerkbaits with input from some of saltwater fishing’s brightest minds.
Every legitimate saltwater fishery in the world is home to one or more species of shrimp. And the better news? Every gamefish worth its salt preys on this ubiquitous forage. Moreover, shrimp imitations are simple to fish.
The only thing better than the perfectly shaped shrimp softbait is one that’s internally weighted and adjustable. Z-Man’s anatomically accurate 3-1/2” Rigged EZ ShrimpZ bares an internal, notched ¼-ounce weight that can be pinched off all the way down to 1/8 ounce. The weight is ideally keeled, too, yielding a level drop and upright posture when it rests on the bottom. Genius.
More about its physique… The durable ElaZtech® Rigged EZ ShrimpZ features a segmented body, giving it lifelike looks and a natural action. Its thin, short appendages proffer a realistic quivering movement and improved wind resistance for increased castability.
Made in the USA, the Rigged EZ ShrimpZ contains a 2/0 Mustad® hook and come in ready-to-fish two packs. Replacement bodies are also available.
Operation is simple: cast it out and work the bait back with short snaps, letting it freefall to the bottom, or near bottom, between pops. Certainly, alter retrieval speed and aggressiveness of the snaps based on fish responses. Sometimes, all you need to do is slowly drag it across the bottom. If you’re dogged about realism, squeeze Pro-Cure Super Gel in the pack and let the baits baste in the savory concoction.
Z-Man’s Rigged EZ ShrimpZ is the perfect companion to a popping cork, too, often outfishing real shrimp – and without the worry of bait tearing away on the cast or pops. Pesky pinfish and other small marauders can’t dismember it, either. And being available in a multitude of colors, you can broker change, matching indigenous shrimp or tendering eye-catching colors in stained water.
Along with the aforementioned, LIVETARGET’s Fleeing Shrimp is the only other shrimp imitation you’ll ever need. It’s the most anatomically and visually precise shrimp bait ever designed. In fact, the Fleeing Shrimp won the prestigious Best New Saltwater Lure at ICAST in 2018, as voted on by the industry.
The LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp seamlessly combines a biologically precise shrimp profile and anatomy, a dynamic color palette, biomimetic action and robust saltwater components to synthesize a soft lure that uniquely replicates the appearance, action, sound, and even the scent of a living shrimp.
The action-packed LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp is, at its heart, a soft lure, but one that uniquely replicates a natural shrimp’s appearance. A portion of this biomimetic perfection stems from having a body size and shape that accurately recalls a living shrimp, bristling with three-dimensional anatomical features including tail and thorax segmentation, eyes, antennae, and more. A custom-designed jighead sporting an extra-strong corrosion-resistant hook blends seamlessly with the Fleeing Shrimp’s soft body, accentuating the lure’s ultra-natural profile. A broad spectrum of eight color patterns completes the visual deception.
The LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp truly comes to life when the angler imparts action, either popping it along the bottom or swimming it beneath the surface. The Fleeing Shrimp’s proprietary skirt masterfully emulates a living shrimp’s front legs, both in motion and at rest. When the shrimp is “fleeing” in a natural, backwards direction, the skirt folds together like the front legs of a living shrimp. When the shrimp comes to rest on the bottom, it stands perfectly upright with the head tipped slightly upward, while the skirt material fans outward and gently flows up and down, creating a subtle, lifelike action that will entice a bite and not spook wary fish.
Artistry meets engineering in the LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp. This standard in shrimp lures comes in two lengths and weights (2-3/4” and ¼ oz, or 3-1/2” and 3/8 oz) and eight ultra-realistic color patterns. And if you need to downsize weight, take the included extra body and rig it with a lighter Z-Man Trout Eye™ or longer shanked Redfish Eye™ jighead.
There’s no shortage of retailer peg-hooks draped with Yo-Zuri hardbody jerkbaits, and for good reason – they are deadly. The Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow, specifically, is a perennial saltwater fish catcher.
The lure’s patented and proprietary Internal 3D Prism Finish reflects all subsurface light, even in the murkiest water. The results of the dynamic flash will be evidenced by the fish chilling in your ice box. Accentuating the visual bursts, the Crystal 3D Minnow’s erratic side-to-side swimming action drives fish off the deep end.
The Crystal 3D Minnow attracts sonically as well with its internal rattle ball sound system. Saltwater-grade tin hooks, durable ABS resin body and stainless-steel split-rings complete the masterfully designed baitfish imitator.
Fishing one is simple as well. Cast and twitch, experimenting with pause times and forcefulness. Oftentimes, twitches mutate into hooksets, as inshore species regularly smash the bait while it’s stationary or just pulling away.
Available in 14 unique patterns, there is a Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow to match your fishing situation, water clarity and targeted species.
Shallow does not necessarily mean fishing small. Inshore predators like redfish, snook, and seatrout eat big stuff, especially during the summer months when juvenile bait like mullet are developing into young adults.
In said situations, nothing begs to be bitten like Daiwa’s Salt Pro Minnow. Another effective hardbody jerkbait, the popular Salt Pro Minnow was engineered for versatility and casting great distances, which is a must in clear water. An internal weight-transfer system propels the lure amazing distances and cuts inshore winds to the quick. This, while heavy-duty saltwater hooks promote longevity and fight rust.
Cosmetically, its realistic scale pattern and 3D eyes dare fish to prove it is not real. To that, the Salt Pro Minnow is available in a whopping 32 color patterns, catering to anything the ocean desires.
The suggested 5-1/8” size dives to just three feet, making it fully functionable in most inshore situations. Twitch and pause, like any run-of-the-mill jerkbait, but expect improved results. Fish love to hate this thing.
Rapala’s greater X-Rap® series is synonymous with success… the Suspending X-Rap® Saltwater, specifically, when saltwater species are involved. Categorized as a Slashbait® for its vigorous, darting action, the lure’s locomotion is unique to hardbody jerkbaits. And the fish notice.
Visually speaking, the iconoclastic lure features prominent scales, a legit lateral line, internal holographic foil for optimum flash, textured translucent body and 3D holographic eyes. Aggregated, these traits present a realism that fish want to get to know better.
Promoting tape-measure casts, the Suspending X-Rap Saltwater jerkbait houses a long-cast mechanism that flat-out works. VMC® Perma Steel® Hooks finalize the package. And like all Rapala premium baits, every X-Rap Saltwater jerkbait is hand tuned and tank tested, so don’t be thrown off by any water droplet residue on the packaging. It means Rapala cares.
Rapala’s X-Rap Saltwater is available in four sizes and a dozen surefire colors.
If you’re looking for top-producing saltwater shrimp and hardbody jerkbaits, don’t be the kid in the candy store. Take our advice and stock up the top 5… and be ready for a fight.