Looking for the best surf fishing lures? Shore fishing is one of those styles that challenges even the most sophisticated of anglers. The surf isn’t the friendliest of waters for lure fishing. With waves and currents, winds and weeds, fishing with lures in the surf can be highly intimidating. Confidence is the biggest factor in being successful with lures, and knowing you’re using a good lure is the first step there. So what are the best lures for surf fishing?
For a serious angler who knows what he’s doing, the best surf fishing lure changes per the conditions and per the structure. This is where we get into another debate: “Jerk Baits vs. Swim Baits“. I’ve already written about that topic and when to use which in the linked article.
No lure is more trusted and well-known than the LC FM 110 jerkbait. It’s a 4.5-inch (110mm), slow-suspending jerkbait that weighs 5/8 of an ounce. Like many jerkbaits, it dives upon your retrieve. Usually, the faster you retrieve, the faster it dives. The Lucky Craft FM 110 dives approximately 1-2 feet and of all the lures out there, this may just be the best surf fishing lure.
Where should you fish the LC lure? Technically anywhere is good. Structure like troughs and holes is awesome. What’s better? Throwing it where you think you might lose it. Around rocks, reef and other hard structure.
In my experience, a slow steady retrieve has worked best. The thing about these jerk baits is that you don’t need to do much to make these lures look sporadic, injured, and attractive. I find that often times you’ll even get bites when you slow to a pause.
I’ve yet to find a jerkbait that holds its wobble (action) as well and as tight as the LC does. The ability to work a slow retrieve while still maintaining attractive action is one thing that sets the LC apart from the rest. There’s one other jerkbait that holds a good wobble and it’s mentioned below.
It holds a good, tight wobble and responds well to angler direction. The LC FM 110 has the best action of any jerkbait I’ve used. I’ve compared it to the Calissa look-a-like, the Caivo, some Rapalas and even some lesser-known jerkbaits. None hold the tight wobble like the LC does.
The Battlestar is an interesting one to compare it to. I’m beginning to like this one a lot and it’s definitely creeping up on the number one spot in terms of jerkbaits for surf fishing. The Battlestar (mentioned below) has a wider wobble, but it’s still a very attractive wobble, just not as tight.
Solid. It beats the Calissa, Caivo, Rapala’s, but not the BS 115 which is a bit heavier.
I’ve been waiting quite sometime to write about swimbaits as it’s taken a long time to understand them and have regular success on them. I’ve fallen in love with swimbaits in the surf and specifically with the Keitech Fat Swing Impact.
The Keitech Fat Swing Impact swimbait has been a well-known lure. But in the surf, it’s just starting to make a name for itself as one of the best swimbaits for surf fishing. What situations would you use this over the LC? If there’s too much kelp or weeds in the water, or if you’d like to really work inside of rock and reef crevasses, that’s where swimbaits shine. They allow you to dramatically slow down your retrieve and drop your bait to the bottom.
My best advice for this one is to make it your own, use your imagination, and envision what your lure looks like while it’s swimming. Spend some time in shallow water, watching how the lure reacts to certain twitches and speeds and go from there. I always like a slow retrieve and I don’t use many twitches and jerks, but many other successful anglers do.
The name of this lure says it all. Fat, Impact Swing. It’s a fatter lure and it’s got a really strong swing to it. More dramatic than most other swimbaits, the Keitech’s action is one of this lure’s best features. It will generally hold it’s desired action at slower retrieves than the LC can.
Casting depends on the angler of course, but it also depends on what size jig-head you use. I like the half-ounce jighead from Warbaits and I also like fishing the Texas Rig with a half-ounce bullet weight. Sled heads are another option worth exploring.
Length: 3.8-inch to 4.8-inch
Weight: 3/8 to 1/2 ounce jighead or a Texas Rig (1/2-oz bullet weight)
The BioSpawn ExoSwim is possibly my favorite swimbait for surf fishing. Its action rivals any other top swimbait out there and its durability is what I believe separates it from the pack. When the Keitech is getting shredded by bites and tail grabs, these BioSpawn lures hold up in most similar scenarios and get bit just as well.
The one thing I wish they had is more glitter in the color options. I think Keitech really nailed down the glitter to color ratio and I’m a big believer that glitter helps attract fish. With time, I hope they develop these options. But, for now, they’re still one of the best lures for surf fishing.
Like most swimbaits, I like to work these slow and close to the bottom. I’m typically not dragging it along the bottom, but at times, I’ll come to a stop and then bounce it off the bottom and let it fall for a little while before either bouncing it again or continuing a slow retrieve.
Take a moment to see how it swims in the clear water in front of you. Give it a slow retrieve and try a few jerks. Notice how it looks when you manipulate it in certain ways, then, visualize how it looks when you retrieve it after a cast. If it look like a baitfish, it’ll get bit.
With such a thick body and fat tail, the BioSpawn ExoSwim actually has a fairly slender connection between tail and body. I believe this gives it the best action of any swimbait on this list.
Your range on these is pretty standard. No better or worse than the Keitech.
As mentioned above, these lures have solid durability and sacrifice no action to achieve that. The next swimbait on the list (below the Battlestar 115) has slightly better durability but the action on the Z-Man is not as good as the BioSpawn in my eyes.
Length: 4-inch to 4.75-inch (I use the 4.75-inch)
Weight: Usually paired with 3/8 to 1/2 ounce jighead or a Texas Rig (1/2-oz bullet weight).
“It wobbles with the perfect action and can be fished at practically any speed. Burn it in if you want to try a fast retrieve. Or take advantage of the unique slow floating design which allows you to retrieve ultra-slowly. At a slow steady pace, the BS115 wobbles with excellent action. I encourage you to slow it down even more! Pause and tiny-twitch for an irresistible slow presentation. They slam it on the pause and tiny-twitch! Or, pause and count to 3 or 4 when working it over shallow snaggy structure or bottoms dirty with weed.” – Vince
Vince has said this thing casts the same distance as the LC 115 but I’d actually argue it casts better and further. It also swims much better. Now, I want to be clear. I’m talking about the Lucky Craft 115, not the 110. I think the action of the 110 may have the Battlestar beat. But that’s it. The BS115 casts further (in my opinion) than both the LC 110 and the LC 115. The action is just a little wider a wobble than the LC 110 but it never turns over like the LC 115 is known to do in shallower water.
Fishing swimbaits in general has convinced me to trust my eyes more and trust my judgement more. If a surf fishing lure looks like it has good action, it’s going to catch fish. It’s just a matter of having enough confidence to put in the time to get that first bite. The Z-man DieZel MinnowZ have solid action, but it’s not as dramatic as the fat impact swing. The reason this lure is on the list is because of its combination of quality action and superb durability.
The retrieve for the Z-Man will likely be the same as the Keitech. It all comes down to what you like. Again, I recommend a slow retrieve.
The action for this one is less pronounced than the Keitech, but it’s good. It looks like a fish in the water and I’ve realized that’s all it takes. It’s durability is fantastic which is one of the most valued aspects to many anglers while in the midst of a hot bite.
Again, with swimbaits, the casting comes down largely to the angler and to the weight/jighead used so this isn’t highly important. I notice no difference between the actual baits.
Length: 4-inch to 5-inch
Weight: Usually paired with 3/8 to 1/2 ounce jighead of sorts.