Every year, by the middle of summer, I’m sick to death of the heat and I pine every single moment for the magical days of autumn, when speckled trout move to the inside marshes and the crisp, cool air makes you want to spend all day in their pursuit.
As if agreeing with the English pop duo Bananarama that the season preceding it is a cruel, cruel summer, particularly in South Louisiana, Mother Nature always sends hints that the experience won’t last forever and better days are ahead. Normal people see it in the changing of leaves or declining photoperiod.
We fishermen see it in the leaping of the first white shrimp.
Cruise around the marsh in mid summer, and you’ll eventually spook a whitie that will snap its powerful tail two or three times to flee from your intrusion. If you adore the fall like I do, it’s an event that will always bring a smile to your face.
That’s because white shrimp are the food of choice of autumn speckled trout. The crustaceans are leaving their marshy nursery grounds at the same time the specks are coming in from their summer spawns. It’s a collision course that benefits one species considerably more than the other.
The prevalence of white shrimp, and speckled trout’s affinity for them, is why I always try to mimic the crustaceans during the autumn. Sometimes that’s with a Pop-R scurrying across the surface like a fleeing shrimp, but mostly, it’s with a shrimp imitation under a Versamaxx Bolt when it’s windy, or fished free-lined on calm days.
That, to me, is just the best way to find specks, particularly when I have no idea where a school might be holding.
There are, of course, a number of shrimp-imitating lures, and I wanted to compare and contrast them, so I dunked some underwater cameras in a neighborhood pool and made a whole lot of casts.
I put the resulting video on my Marsh Man Masson YouTube channel, but here’s the gist of what I learned:
Vudu Shrimp — The lure falls faster than some of the others, which makes it easier to fish in a bit of a breeze and would certainly work on days when fish are keying on rapid motion. The tail of the Vudu is segmented, and that allows it to twist and turn on every twitch. Also, the legs wiggle quite a bit, as do the antennae.
Marker 54 Glide Shrimp — Glide Shrimp is a good name for this one because it moves through the water at a roughly 45-degree angle. That increases the amount of time it stays in the strike zone. The segmented tail gives it some lingering action, even after the rest of the bait stops moving, but not nearly as much as the Vudu.
Z-Man EZ Shrimpz — This one’s made out of Elaztech, which means it’s super stretchy and can’t be stored with regular soft-plastics. In the pool, the lure helicoptered down too many times, which no shrimp really does. Out of the package, it also falls really quickly, although the lure has a segmented weight, which allows an angler to easily make it lighter.
Live Target Shrimp — Out of the package, this one looks the most like a real shrimp, but in the pool, it falls much faster than the real thing. That makes it easier to work, but probably less effective than some of the other baits. It’s also super stiff.
Savage Gear 3D Shrimp — This one’s a bit different in that it has a weighted hook that rests in a pocket, making it mostly weedless. I didn’t know much about this lure before my pool test, but I was super impressed with it. The fall rate is excellent, and there seems to be always something moving on this lure. Its segmented tail is in perpetual motion, and the tip of the tail even vibrates a bit. I used this lure a few days after my pool test, and caught a ton of fish on it.
TKO Shrimp — This lure has very little action, but its strength is its fall rate. It’s the exact same speed as a real live shrimp. Being that it’s light, though, means it has to be fished more slowly than some of the others.
Marker 54 Flexible-Tail Shrimp — This one is rigged uniquely, compared to the others. It’s positioned tail-first, so it moves backwards when twitched, just like a real shrimp. On every twitch in the pool, the tail folded in half before springing back out. The bait probably falls a bit faster than I’d like, but it has a rocking back-and-forth motion that I’m sure elicits strikes.
Tsunami Shrimp — This bait is scented, and its fall rate isn’t the worst, but other than that, there aren’t many redeeming qualities. It’s a featureless stick moving through the water. There are far better options to be had.
Matrix Shrimp — This is the smallest of the shrimp, and like the Savage Gear Shrimp, it’s rigged on a weighted hook. The fall rate is a bit fast, but the tail is both segmented and forked, which gives it a tremendous amount of action. It vibrates on both the twitch and the fall. You can actually feel it in the rod.
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