Bluefish Angling: Best Bait, Tackle, Tips for a Successful Catch

When it comes to catching bluefish, there is no one perfect bait or technique. Different anglers will swear by different baits and methods, but there are a few tips that all anglers can use to improve their chances of landing a bluefish.

In this article, you will learn what the best bait for bluefish is and the best tackle, tips, and techniques that you can use to muscle in a big bluefish. We’ll also provide some tips on how to rig for bluefish, as well as when and where you’re most likely to find these fish. So whether you’re surf fishing or offshore fishing for bluefish, read on for the best tips and advice!

Best Bait For Bluefish

As we mentioned, there is no one perfect bait for bluefish. Different anglers have their own personal preferences, but a few baits tend to work better than others.

For live bait, small fish or strips of fresh-cut bait are usually the best choices. Popular artificial lures include spoons, jigs, and plugs. When choosing a lure, it’s important to select one that is the right size and color for the conditions you’re fishing in.

Best Natural Bait For Bluefish

As we mentioned, small fish or strips of fresh-cut bait are usually the best choices for live bait. If you’re using fresh-cut bait, using a sharp knife is important to make clean cuts. This will help to keep the bait on the hook longer and increase your chances of landing a bluefish.


Mullet Fish

Mullet is a common type of baitfish that is often used to target bluefish. Mullet can be used as both cut bait and whole fish bait, and it is a natural bait choice that many anglers prefer. When using mullet as cut bait, the fillets are typically cut into small strips or chunks.

The mullet strips are then threaded onto the hook, with the bloodier pieces placed closer to the hook point. For whole fish bait, the mullet is simply impaled on the hook, with the hook being positioned in the center of the mullet’s body.

Whole mullet baits are often fished under a float, which helps to keep the mullet suspended in the water column. No matter how used, mullet is an effective baitfish for targeting bluefish.


Menhaden Fish

Menhaden or Bunker are types of fish that are commonly used as bait for bluefish and other predator fish. They are relatively easy to catch, and their oily flesh makes them a natural choice for bait. The bunker can be alive or dead when used as bait, although live Menhaden are generally more effective.

When fishing with bunker, it is important to hook them through the nose or lip in order to keep them on the hook. Additionally, Menhaden can be cut into pieces in order to use them as chum, which will attract bluefish to the area where you are fishing. Using bunker as bait is an effective way to catch bluefish, and they can be easily obtained from most bait shops.



Squid can be an effective bait for bluefish, whether you use whole squid or as cut bait. The best time to fish for bluefish is in the fall, when they are migrating south along the east coast of the United States. During this time, squid will be migrating north along the same route, making them easy to find.

When using squid as bait, it is important to cut it into small pieces so that the bluefish can eat it easily. You can also use squid as live bait by putting a hook through its body and letting it swim freely. This can be especially effective if other fish are also feeding on squid in the area.

In addition to using squid as bait, you can also use it as chum. Chum is a type of bait that is used to attract fish to a certain area. To do this, simply cut the squid into small pieces and throw it into the water. The scent of the squid will attract the bluefish to the area, making them easier to catch.



While many different types of bait can be used to attract bluefish, a good bait fish to use is mackerel. This oily fish is not only a favorite food of bluefish but also relatively easy to catch. For best results, mackerel should be fished using a heavy tackle and fresh bait.

The best time to fish for bluefish is early morning or late in the evening when they are actively feeding. When rigging the bait, it is important to ensure that the hooks are sharp and the line is strong enough to handle the fish’s powerful strikes. With a little patience and effort, anglers can land a big bluefish using mackerel as bait.

Best Artificial Lures For Bluefish

Spoons, jigs, and plugs are all popular choices for artificial lures. When choosing a lure, it’s important to select one that is the proper size and weight for the fish you’re targeting. Bluefish are relatively large fish, so it’s important to use a lure that is heavy enough to get their attention. Using treble hooks are a great type of hook to ensure the big blues stay on the line.

Roberts Ranger Lures

Roberts Lures Ranger Red White 5 7/8" 3oz

When it comes to fishing, there is no such thing as being too prepared. That’s why serious anglers rely on Roberts Ranger lures. These lures are designed to mimic the natural movement of prey, making them irresistible to fish. Made from high-quality materials, Roberts Ranger lures are built to last.

Whether you’re targeting bluefish, bass, trout, or another type of fish, these lures will help you bring home a big haul. So don’t leave home without them – grab a few Roberts Ranger lures before your next fishing trip.

Tsunami Pro Swim Shad Holographic Jig

Tsunami Pro Swim Shad Holographic Swim Bait 5" SS5 Opaque White Lure Jig

The Tsunami Pro Swim Shad is a type of single hook jig that is specifically designed for targeting striped bass. However, it can also be effective for catching bluefish. This lure is available in a variety of colors, and it features a swim bait design that imitates the appearance and movement of a baitfish.

This jig comes with 3D realistic eyes and the soft vinyl body will surely attract some monster bluefish! The Mustad hook that’s rigged to this jig is sure to keep that fish on the line during the catch.

Bomber Saltwater Grade Certified Depth Plug

Bomber BSWCD25DRO Saltwater Grade Certified Depth Trolling Plug, 6, 2 oz, 25 Ft, Holographic Dorado, Floating

The Bomber Saltwater Grade Plug is a deep water lure that does its magic dance mimicking a dying fish at depths between 20 and 30 feet. This plug comes in many colors and has two hooks that are attached to its puncture-resistant hard plastic body and premium hardware. If the bluefish are there they will strike hard at this lure.

Diamond Jig

Fish WOW! 5pcs 8oz Diamond Jig Mylar Holographic Laser jigs with a Treble Hook

A diamond jig consists of wire leaders attached to the main line, with a series of hooks mounted on the wire. The hooks are baited with small pieces of cut bait or other baitfish, and the jig is cast into the water column. This jig works well for surf fishing and offshore fishing. The diamond jig is popular on party boats on the New England coast because of its effectiveness at catching aggressive fish.

When fishing with artificial lures, it’s important to use a variety of different techniques until you find the one that produces the best results. Experiment with different retrieve speeds, depths, and rod positions until you figure out what works best. With a little practice, you’ll be catching bluefish like a pro in no time.

No matter what type of lure you choose, it’s important to make sure that it is properly rigged before fishing. This means attaching the hooks securely and making sure that they are the proper size for the fish you’re targeting. Additionally, it’s important to use a line that is strong enough to handle the fish’s powerful strikes. It’s recommended to use 25-pound test monofilament line and a leader that is about 50-pound test when targeting bluefish.

With a little bit of practice, anglers can easily learn how to catch bluefish using artificial lures. This method can be especially effective when live bait is not readily available.

What Is The Best Time To Catch A Bluefish?

The best time to catch bluefish depends on a variety of factors such as weather conditions, water temperature, and the fish’s feeding habits. In general, the best time to catch bluefish is in the spring and fall when the water temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

During these times of the year, bluefish are most active and they are more likely to be found near the surface of the water. This makes them easier to target with both artificial lures and live bait. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather conditions before heading out on a fishing trip.

Bluefish are known for being aggressive predators, and they will often feed heavily before a storm hits. This can make them challenging to catch during inclement weather.

Best Rigs to use for Bluefish

There are two rigs to consider using for catching bluefish. Using these rigs will ensure when you battle that aggressive bluefish that it will stay on the line. In the following, I will explain these two rigs.

Umbrella Rig

Beoccudo Alabama Rig Umbrella Rigs Kit for Stripers Bass Fishing 5 Arms a Rig Fishing Lures Bait Rigs with Swimbaits-21PCS

An umbrella rig is a type of fishing rig that consists of multiple wires arranged in a radial configuration, with a lure attached to the end of each wire. The rig is designed to mimic a school of baitfish, making it an effective lure for predators such as bluefish. There are two main types of umbrella rigs: three-wire versions and five-wire versions.

Three-wire rigs are the most common type, and they can be used for both trolling and casting. Five-wire rigs are typically used for trolling, as they provide more stability and allow the lures to move more freely. To use an umbrella rig, simply cast it out into the water and reel it in at a steady pace. The movement of the lures will mimic a school of baitfish, attracting predators from all around.

Keep in mind some states don’t allow fishing with more than 3 hooks so the 3 wire versions of the umbrella rig would be the ones you want to use in those states.

Doodlebug Rig

A doodlebug rig is used mainly for surf fishing for bluefish. Mullet is a good baitfish to use on the rig because it’s a tough bait that will stay on the line longer. To prepare the mullet bait cut the mullet up into one and a half inch by about three inches long sections. #4 to #8 hooks are typically used on a doodlebug rig and you will want to attach a surf weight that’s between two and five ounces. If the water is calm use the smaller-sized weight and if the water is rough, go for the five-ounce weight.

It’s recommended that you cast the doodlebug rig out as far as it will go and just wait for a strike. Start reeling it in as soon as you feel the first tug.

Best Places to Fish for Bluefish

Now that you know what rig and bait to use, you need to know where to find the bluefish. The best places to fish for bluefish depend on the time of year and the type of fishing you want to do.

In general, bluefish can be found nearshore, offshore, and in estuaries. In the spring and fall, they are most commonly found near shore as they migrate along the coast in search of food. In the late summer months, they can be found both nearshore and offshore as they move into deeper water in large schools in search of cooler temperatures. Estuaries are another good place to look for bluefish as they often congregate there to spawn.


Surf Fishing
Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is a popular way to target bluefish in the spring and fall. During these times of the year, bluefish are most likely to be found near the shore as they migrate along the coast. The best place to fish for bluefish from the shore is on a sandy beach with deep water nearby. Look for areas where there is a drop-off from shallow to deep water, as this is where bluefish will often congregate. A good idea is to cast lures or bait into these areas which will give you the best chance of hooking into larger fish.


Offshore fishing for bluefish can be done year-round, but it is most popular in the summer months when the fish move into deeper waters in search of cooler temperatures. The best place to fish for bluefish offshore is around reefs, shipwrecks, or other structures that provide shelter and attract baitfish. These areas will usually hold a large number of fish, so it is important to be prepared with the proper tackle and rigs.



Estuaries are another good place to look for bluefish as they often congregate there to spawn. The best time to fish for bluefish in estuaries is in the spring and fall when they are migrating along the coast. Look for areas where fresh and saltwater meet, as this is where bluefish will often be found. Baitfish are attracted to these areas, so using live bait or lures that mimic baitfish will give you the best chance of success.

Some areas you might want to try fishing for bluefish would be Cape Cod, Nova Scotia, and off the shore of North Carolina among other east coast regions of the Atlantic Ocean. If you are out fishing on a boat a good fish finder will come in handy to find these large fish.

Top Tips For Catching Bluefish

For anyone looking to reel in a large bluefish, there are a few things to keep in mind. Bluefish tend to congregate in shallow water. During the low tide, bluefish tend to swim to deeper waters to take advantage of baitfish that are coming from the inlets.

  • Bluefish have sharp teeth, so it’s important to use a strong line and hooks that can withstand their biting power.
  • Bluefish are a very skittish creature so when fishing for them keep this in mind. When you motor out to catch some bluefish you might have to wait for a while after you turn the engine off for the fish to come to you and hopefully they will be in a feeding frenzy.
  • It’s sometimes best to use lighter lures so you don’t make such a splash when it hits the water but you want to make sure it makes enough thrashing around movement when it’s in the water so that it attracts the big blues.
  • If you are using a heavy bait or rig when fishing for bluefish cast it out away from where the bluefish are congregated and reel it to the spot that you want it to be. This helps in not scaring the fish away.

Conclusion – Best Bait for Bluefish

Now that you know the best bait, tackle, and techniques for catching bluefish, it’s time to head out on your next fishing adventure! Bluefish can be found in saltwater environments all around the world, so there are plenty of opportunities to catch them.

In general, the best places to fish for bluefish are near the shoreline or in areas with a lot of structure. This could include reefs, piers, docks, or even mangroves. When choosing a spot to fish, make sure to pay attention to the tides, water temperature, and weather conditions. Be prepared to put up a fight reeling these big fish in because they are very aggressive when on the end of your line and once you have landed one watch their sharp teeth so you don’t get slashed.

What is your favorite method for catching bluefish? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re interested in Halibut fishing you could check out our latest write-up called Best Bait For Halibut in that article you will find some useful tips and tricks to use when fishing for Halibut. Well, that’s it for now until next time Happy deep sea fishing!

Cory is a content writer-editor and founder of Tackle Box Talk. Favorite Quote: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

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