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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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  #1  
Old 09-10-2014, 11:23 AM
Jon006 Jon006 is offline
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Default Needlefish

Frank please tell me more about your concerns in under utilizing the needlefish. Its a lure that I greatly dislike because I lack confidence with it but know it slays bass.
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Old 09-10-2014, 12:09 PM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

I never included the needlefish in my exploratory activity. As I said in the other thread we had so many things we thought the world of that we tended to fish the same loop of favorites and the needlefish never made the list. I had a friend who got a surf fifty on one that really surprised me; then I read Dennis Zambranno's Block Island book which lauded their results there with it and I began to feel that I missed the needlefish boat. Also, nobody in my world at the time knew how to fish them. I guess you can't have been everywhere and tried every thing.
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Old 09-10-2014, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: Needlefish

I have said this before, but, if you have ever stood in the water and watched lobsters move around on the bottom, they move slowly and steadily and look like sticks. Fish "wiggle" but lobsters don't. I'm not saying this is what needlefish imitate but it's possible. I mention this because my first reaction to the actionless needlefish is to wonder what in the world it could be mimicking.
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:14 PM
Jon006 Jon006 is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

Good points Frank I think it's those same reasons that have prevented me from using one as well.
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: Needlefish

I like the needlefish, it can be retrieved in different ways,it is great in windy conditions or flat calm. I have had success with a straight retrieve or even dead drifting them with no retrieve in inlet current, sagging it like a bucktail almost...cast into current and let it drift back and past you- I've had hits both on the drift and at the end of the swing when it rises up and turns.White Super Strikes are what I mostly use...
-Phil
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  #6  
Old 09-11-2014, 10:49 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

I think some of the posters seek to personify striper behavior. For instance, explaining that a lure should appear to be something specific like a lobster when a striper does not care what it is as long as the bass can catch it and it get it down. Sure , there would have to be a certain amount of learned behavior like the preditor not wanting to have a spiny fish stuck in the gullet when that baitfish extends its dorsal or gill covers. I would endorse the idea that a needlefish is similar enough to sand eel to be acceptable. I don't think fish are smart; I think they are instinctive.
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Old 09-11-2014, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: Needlefish

I love the needlefish and use it all the time at any time no matter what the bait is at the time.
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Old 09-11-2014, 03:18 PM
dz dz is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

Before the needlefish plug became really popular on Block, early 1980s, the go to plugs out there were Rebels F80s and F90s, Redfins, and of all things, Gibbs bottle plugs known as casting swimmers; mostly because each could cast reasonably well into the prevalent extreme winds of late October into December. The needle was a hard plug to gain confidence in if you didn’t score with it right away basically because it doesn’t wiggle like a traditional striper plug. Guys would watch it come through the water like a stick with hooks and if a bass didn’t eat it on the first half dozen casts they would throw it into the back of the buggy. But a few casters realized that even the subtle action of a needle is indeed still “action”. On top of that a well-built needle could cast into the fiercest of winds and be fished in shallow water. I have no doubt that if needles were as popular in the 1970s Frank and cape crews could have done major damage with them on the back beach.
Jon I’m not sure where you fish but good needle advice would be to always start with a needlefish plug wherever you fish. In many cases the first few casts into an area arouse the most aggressive fish in that location. Once you get some strikes or catches you’ll begin to develop a confidence in the plug. Believe me it will only take a few takes on a needle to convert you. On the contrary they don’t always work – when bass don’t want them you can throw it until your arms fall off – you can’t make them eat. Try making it the first plug out of your bag everywhere you try – at least for a half dozen casts.
Dennis Zambrotta
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Old 09-11-2014, 03:32 PM
Jon006 Jon006 is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

Dennis I fish the canal almost exclusively until next month when I start making trips to RI. I think even in the canals current it's worth a shot. I also like the idea of fishing a plug that has little to no resistance in the water as it seems to amplify the way the strike is.

I'll take your advice, I've wanted to catch on one for some time, but my pet offerings always got the nod.
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Old 09-12-2014, 06:48 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

I get your point, Dennis. Just to ad what happened with Cape crews on the Back Beach was rarely known from one bunch of guys to another. As long as we got the most fish, we didn't much care what others were doing. The Cape was a strange, 007 place. Personally, I disliked sharing info with people because there was so much subterfuge. After a while you just want to fish your own way and not even know who did what, who said what, where they went. Imagine guys buying all the eels so Frank and Joyce would not be able to get some.
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Old 09-12-2014, 08:46 AM
dz dz is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon006 View Post
Dennis I fish the canal almost exclusively until next month when I start making trips to RI. I think even in the canals current it's worth a shot. I also like the idea of fishing a plug that has little to no resistance in the water as it seems to amplify the way the strike is.

I'll take your advice, I've wanted to catch on one for some time, but my pet offerings always got the nod.
Jon,
The canal would be tough to get the fish to come up to the needle in deeper water areas. If there are areas where you can swing it into a shallow bar less than 10 feet in depth especially at night. You may also want to try skipping a Super Strike needle in areas that normally fish a pencil popper. Fish it fast and skitter it over the surface with sweeps of the rod.

good luck
DZ
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Old 09-12-2014, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Needlefish

I've always read to start with the "slow" retrieve. Would that be slow enough that it is dragging\bouncing of the bottom. Or slow enough to keep it down but off the bottom?

Just started adding needles to my bag and its really hard to get a feel for them when they don't really have a wiggle you can feel to tell you you are doing it right.
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:49 AM
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Default Re: Needlefish

I have two needlefish, one sinks and always digs in the sand, the other floats and gets bounced around by waves and doesn't cast far.

Neither have worked for me, and thus I have zero confidence in them.

I have more confidence in a bottle plug than the the needle, if that tells you anything. At least I can cast it, and put my teaser into the zone better.
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Old 09-12-2014, 04:19 PM
Jon006 Jon006 is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

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Originally Posted by dz View Post
Jon,
The canal would be tough to get the fish to come up to the needle in deeper water areas. If there are areas where you can swing it into a shallow bar less than 10 feet in depth especially at night. You may also want to try skipping a Super Strike needle in areas that normally fish a pencil popper. Fish it fast and skitter it over the surface with sweeps of the rod.

good luck
DZ
I have some ideas now! There are some spots that would kend to it's use. I really like the pencil replacement idea!
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Old 09-13-2014, 06:29 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: Needlefish

If the use of needlefish is a worthy pursuit in the striper surf, how can comparisons or remarks on effectiveness be consistent if some models sink, others float, some fished on the bottom others splashed along and others crept slowly. Consequently, results from one type, say Boone, when compared to say Gibbs is going to be altogether different. When I step back and reexamine all this Needlefish talk, I wonder about the competence of many of the observations. Unless choices of one needlefish when compared to another are the same, observations are highly suspect.

A similar example might be comparing a floater Rebel with a sinker Rebel. They may look the same but they are very, very different. So if any plug is manufactured under an array of protocols -- ie floaters sinkers, creepers and splashers -- how can we here exchange observations on their effectiveness? Tell me I am missing something ...
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