Everything in coastal waters eats shrimp. This maybe a slight exaggeration, but where redfish, trout, snook, and flounder anglers are concerned, the phrase fits.
Here’s the downside: we can add pinfish to that list—a cringeworthy truth plaguing anglers year-round, but particularly as the warm season sees explosive expansion in pinfish numbers.
Try and drift a live shrimp, float one under a cork, or hop it across the bottom and you’ll instantly feel the snare drum attack from dozens of pins nipping off chunks of your delicate bait long before anything worth catching has a chance to spot the crustacean.
Fortunately, options exist: artificial shrimp. You’ll find a range of designs, from the generalists to the anatomically accurate to the downright artistic. For example, the Savage Gear TPE Manic Shrimp was modeled from 3D scans of real shrimp.
Some, like the Manic Shrimp, the original DOA Shrimp, Egret Baits Vudu Shrimp and the Live Target Rigged Shrimp come pre-rigged with hooks, so you can fish them right out of the package in free-lined or floated presentations.
For unrigged plastic shrimp, use a light jig head, a keel-weighted hook, or a Carolina rig to propel them into action.
Some include natural crustacean scents, but dressing up any plastic shrimp with scented pastes, gels, or sprays will kick up the appeal.
Now to address the nagging question of, “Do fish like real shrimp better?”
Well, in a blind taste test, most would likely choose the real McCoy over even the best imitation, but consider this: In the water, fish have to make quick decisions, lest they lose their feeding opportunity.
Modern shrimp baits have come a long way in their fish-foolin’ abilities, so if you’re working that plastic impostor in the right areas, you can bet that trout school feeding competition will send plenty of attention your way.
Here’s the best part: a delicate live shrimp is easily ripped off the hook with a forceful cast. Artificials? Heave away.
And no pinfish worries.
Photograph by the author