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Striped Bass on Live Bunker

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Striped Bass FishingFor live-lining large baits (bunker/pogies, porgies, herring, shad, etc.) for catching big striped bass on live bunker, we recommend a conventional rod and reel combo rated for 30-40lb mono.  The optimal rod is a 6’6″ to 7′ rod with medium-fast to fast action and medium to medium heavy power.  The rod needs to have enough backbone to pull the hook out of a large bait and into the mouth of the striped bass.  This is a very versatile conventional outfit and is perfect for nearly all northeast live bait applications.

We recommend loading the reel with 30-40lb mono line attached to a 3-4ft length of  fluorocarbon leader using a 100lb barrel swivel.  We prefer monofilament for the following reasons:

  • The stretch ensures that the angler has a few extra moments to free-line the reel when the fish picks up a bait because of the stretch and belly in the line.  The bigger fish can be very sensitive to quick to drop a bait that seems unnatural.
  • Some of the biggest fish are found around structure and there is a very good chance the line will make contact.  The monofilament line will get nicked or scuffed when braided line will simply break.  Braided lines has very poor abrasion resistance.

The rig is completed with a 8/0-9/0 offset octopus (beak) style hook with a turned-down eye.  The turned down eye is particularly useful to complete a snell knot.  See the video below on exactly how to create this very simple rig.

Wire Leaders?

When they are alot of blues around we switch to 80lb fluorocarbon leaders, but never to a wire leader.  Wire leaders tend to greatly reduce the chance of a pickup and the 80lb leader is typically tough enough to get the blues to the boat for a quick release.

Hooking Baits

The best hook placement for swimming live bunker is on the top of the bait just behind the dorsal.  This will allow the angler to steer the bait and keep the bait in the hit zone when a fishing is chasing it.  This method is best for very slow drifts or when anchored in shallow water with very little current or none).

When drifting deep baits an egg sinker (typically 4oz or more) should be placed on the main line ahead of the swivel.  The hook must be placed in the nose of the bunker.  However, a very big hook set is needed to pull the hook out of the bait and into the striped bass.

Snagging Bunker

We typically use a 7 foot spinning outfit loaded with 30-50lb braided line.  The thin diameter of the braided line allows use to easily cast an un-weighted 10/0 classic treble hook over a bunker school.  We reel very slowly and when we feel a slight tick on the line we take a swing to set the hook.  This works nearly every time.  If we feel a lot of vibration in the line that suggests we have snagged the bunker well behind the head and will leave that bait in place to see if it gets picked up.

Striped Bass Tackle Checklist – Live Lining

  • 6’6″ to 7′ conventional rod rated for 30-40lb mono
  • 3/0-4/0 conventional reel
  • 30-40lb monofilament line
  • 50-80lb fluorocarbon leader
  • 8/0-9/0 offset octopus (beak) style hook
  • 100lb barrel swivel

Please contact us if you have questions about our recommendations!


Tackle Recommendations
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Rods
Penn Ally Boat Rods Penn Ally Boat Rods
Inshore casting (conventional) and spinning rods - 7' - multiple models suitable for 10-40lb mono and 10-50lb braid - fast to extra-fast actions - 1 piece tubular glass blank construction with solid glass tip - Fuji aluminum oxide guides - Pac Bay roller guides (on select models) - Heavy duty reel seats - EVA Torque foregrips - Aluminum gimbals
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Penn Ally Boat Rods Penn Ally Boat Rods
Shimano Teramar Northeast Inshore Casting Shimano Teramar Northeast Inshore Casting
Inshore conventional rod - 6'6" to 7'6" - multiple models suitable for 12-50lb braid or mono - medium to fast actions - lure weights from 1/2oz to 6oz
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Shimano Teramar Northeast Inshore Casting Shimano Teramar Northeast Inshore Casting
Reels
Penn Fathom Penn Fathom
Star drag conventional reel (no level wind) - models rated for 10-50lb mono and 15-80lb braid - 6:1 gear ratio - 5 ball bearings - HT100 drag washers
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Penn Fathom Penn Fathom
Penn Torque Conventional Penn Torque Conventional
Star drag conventional reel (no level wind) - models rated for 10-50lb mono and 15-80lb braid - 6:1 gear ratio - 7 ball bearings - HT100 drag washers
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Penn Torque Conventional Penn Torque Conventional
Shimano Torium Shimano Torium
Star drag conventional reel (no level wind) - models rated for 14-50lb mono and 40-100lb braid - 6.2:1 gear ratio - 3 ball bearings - aluminum frame and side plates
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Shimano Torium Shimano Torium
Line
Berkley Big Game Mono Berkley Big Game Mono
Trilene monofilament line - shock and abrasion resistant - clear, green, and solar collector colors - available in 8 to 130lb test and 1/4, 1, 3 and 5lb spools - exceptional knot strength
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Berkley Big Game Mono Berkley Big Game Mono
Hooks
Mustad Beak Bait Hook Mustad Beak Bait Hook
92553NP-BN - Opti-Angle Needle Point, chemically sharpened, Nor-Tempered, forged, reversed, extra strong, turned up tapered eye - Octopus style
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Mustad Beak Bait Hook Mustad Beak Bait Hook
Terminal Tackle
Mustad Rolling Swivel Mustad Rolling Swivel
77900 - Black Rolling Swivel w/round eye - available sizes/rating: 4/144lb, 6/118lb, 8/104lb, 9/77lb, 10/70lb, 12/49lb, and 14/42lb


Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader  - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear  and disappearing pink colors - 4-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
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Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - additional abrassion resistance, lower diameter, invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear and disappearing pink colors - 8-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
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Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri TopKnot Fluorocarbon Leader
Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear, blue, pink, brown colors - 20-200lb test and 25/33/75/100yd coils
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Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Other
East Coast Cast Nets East Coast Cast Nets
Custom USA hand-made bunker (menhaden/pogy) cast nets for serious and professional anglers designed and created by Charlie Kay.
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East Coast Cast Nets