Top 5 Snapper Lures

… continuing on from Part 3 of our Top 5 Snapper Lures, the final installment of our series is by Craig ‘Handles’ Hanlon.

Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad 5"

Where – Shallow water 0-30m
When – I like to fish this bait first thing in the morning before the sun gets too high in the sky and when the fish are high in the water column feeding.
How – I use a really light jig head from 1/4 to about 3/8 & 3/0 hook depending on the current and wind. The idea behind it is similar to float lining baits, cast out, let the plastic sink slowly and naturally down the water column. When the plastic hits the bottom I wind it back up about halfway to 3/4 up the water column and let it sink again. Every now and then I will run two rods and swap them back and forth in and out of the rod holder. Cast one out, put in rod holder, wind in the second rod 1/2 way up water column, put in rod holder & let float back down, pick up first rod and wind 1/2 way up water column, put in rod holder, and keep alternating rods. Just remember this is a slow technique and is better used when there isn’t a lot of current or wind moving the boat quickly.
Why – Looks like a injured or dead bait fish.
Colour – Pink Shine, Pearl, Nuke chicken, Sardine.

Berkley Gulp 5" Jiggin Shrimp

Where – Shallow to medium deep water 0-50m
When – I use this lure when there is a bit of current or wind making the boat drift quicker than I like when using the jerk shad or when i’m in new ground and I want to fish fast to actively find fish.
How – This is my ‘search bait’ it has a sexy tail wiggle on both the drop and on lifts when working it back to the boat. I use this very similar to how I would fish for flathead, a long cast with a mixture of short or long lifts to make the tail wiggle as its worked back to the boat. This plastic has caught my biggest fish on a lure so far measuring in at 87cm.I’ll use this on a 1/4-1oz & 3/0 hook jighead depending on current, water depth and wind. I generally go a little heavier than a jerk shad because of the tail action causes drag in the water slowing the plastic down.
Why – Looks like feeding, moving, injured prawn or baitfish.
Colours – Flash Pink, Chart Pepper Neon, White Glow.

4" Curl Tail Grub - Any with good action!

Where – 20-50m
When – I use this when the bite has completely slowed and the sun is bright and high in the sky. This is my ‘when the going gets tough’ bait. I generally move from the shallows to deeper water as the sun comes up and this is when i use this bait.
How – I use a heavier than usual jighead, either a 1/2-1oz & 3/0 hook and the technique is to work the bottom floor of the reef, which when the sun is high is where the snapper mostly sit. I use short slow lifts and jerks of the rod to entice a little more action into the curly tail. This technique doesnt seem to catch big fish but it catches shut down fish, and I can’t stress enough that I only use this when I havent caught a fish in a while and it seems there isn’t a lot of activity in the water.
Why – Who knows???? it just works when its tough on the water
Colours – Pink and only pink

Damiki BackDrop Jig

Where – 30-100m.
When – I use this technique when there is a lot of wind or current so much so that I can’t use my plastics the way I’d like to too and my only option is to fish vertically. Othertimes I just want to jig and sometimes I will rod holder my jigs and work plastics at the same time. This is better suited to deeper reefs in the 30m+ range but I have used it in shallower water, problem is the boat will scare the better fish in shallow water.
How – I have used a variety of jigs and had success with all from skinny Storm Gomoku, wider Palms Slow Blatt Cast etc. but for some reason myself, and fish, really like the swaying action of this jig on the drop. I have caught fish on the initial drop, sitting in a rod holder and worked up and down the water column. I work the jigs using both a slow, long lift of the rod, starting with the rod tip almost in the water & ending with the rod tip six feet above my head, this allows for maximum action on a long drop back to the bottom. After a few of these I will start working it up the water coloum with shorter sharper lifts, while winding, until I figure out a pattern or depth that they are biting . All my jigging outfits are baitcast or overhead reels, this allows me to quickly wind up and release the jig back down to the bottom without having the fiddle with bail arms. Overhead reels also allow me to thumb the spool if I do catch a bigger fish that is heading back into the reef quickly and I need to slow it.
Why – It super fun to jig reefies!
Colours – Pink Iwashi, Zebra Blue Ping, Zebra Glow, anything with pink and white really.

Shimano Lucanus 60-150g (Octopus Jigs)

Where – 20-100m – deep reefs, rubbly ground and weed areas.
When – Whenever I feel like it because it catches fish!
How – In both the hand and via a rod holder, that’s how I fish it! This is the ultimate second rod lure! I have caught more fish sitting this lure on a rod in a rod holder than I have with it in my hand but be warned, they aren’t cheap and they are easily lost if not kept an eye on. I prefer not to use a Lucanus in a rod holder around high reef edges and deeper drop offs as I end up drifting up onto the high part and loosing the lure to the reef. On gravel and weed I am happy to put them in a rod holder, set and forget until i’m winding in a fish. When rod holdered the action of the boat with a little ‘chop’ around makes the lure flutter up and down just like a real octopus. When I fish it in hand its drop to the bottom and small slow lifts working the bottom 5m of the water column. There are a couple of ‘tricks’ I use, one is I always change the hooks, I have had to many fish dropped because the standard hooks are very small and when you have a 6kg plus red heading for the reef with your $20 lure the first thing you do is add some hurt, nek minut, hooks pulled. I like to swap them out for the Decoy DJ-83 Tirashi Assist Hooks, these are heavier duty with a wider gape and a longer cord so they sit lower in the skirt and stop short strikes. The second trick is to add trailers to these hooks, these are usually worm style lures and my favourite are the Damiki Ripper or Gulp Turtleback Worm. They can be tricky to rig but add ‘profile’ to the lure making it appear bigger to snapper and add scent to the lure only drawback is they often get chewed by the smaller reef fish.
Why – Because everything eats a squid/octopus
Colours – Anything with white or pink – best part is you can swap skirts and add white and pink to the lure.