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Snook Swimbait Smackdown With LIVETARGET

Once the heavy rains of late spring-early summer pull South Florida snook out of the mangrove swamps, Miami angler Chris Hueston heads to the Everglades intending to wrestle huge linesiders to the boat. While live baiting can certainly generate lots of bites, Hueston puts a lot of faith in the LIVETARGET Scaled Sardine Swimbait.

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“I take that lure with me anywhere I go,” Hueston proudly states. “If I don’t have at least half a dozen, I’ll find some more before I go out. From Louisiana to Texas, to Jacksonville, to my home waters in South Florida, that lure dominates.

“If I had one lure to take with me anywhere in Florida, it would be the 3-1/2-inch, 1-ounce LIVETARGET Scaled Sardine swimbait. It’s a perfect size unless the baitfish are really large, then I’ll use the 4-inch, 1-ounce size.”

Calling this a year-round bait, Hueston said he does most of his swimbait work from May-September. This time of year finds the larger fish separated from their backcountry haunts and somewhere within their spawning cycle.

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Hueston said he commonly finds warm-season snook along deep mangrove edges, points, passes, and Gulf of Mexico beaches — the key ingredient — water flow.

“There’s gotta be current,” Hueston stated. “I like outside points or passes, flow-throughs, jetties, and oyster bars.”

The reason for Hueston’s current requirement is simple — feeding opportunities. Snook are sight feeders, so the more baitfish, shrimp, and crabs move through the target zone, the more active these predators become.

“I like the first hour of the falling tide until the last hour of the outgoing cycle and then the same (in reverse) with the incoming tide,” Hueston said.

“You have about a 4-hour window on the outgoing and another 4-hour window on the incoming, so in a full day, you’ll have 8 hours of (optimum water movement).”

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Hueston knows his LIVETARGET Scaled Sardine swimbait will also tempt redfish and big trout, but when he’s solely targeting snook, he gears up for the fight for which these fish are famous. He starts with a 7-3 medium-heavy spinning rod and a 3000-size reel carrying 30-pound TUF-LINE Domin8 Braid.

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Leaders are important, and while he can get away with 20- or 30-pound for those reds and trout, Hueston won’t tackle snook with anything less than 50-pound fluorocarbon. Fluoro’s low visibility often makes a big difference when bites are tough, but he’s found quality monofilament more abrasion resistant, while the stretch factor allows for shock absorption on the strike.

“This is an easy bait to fish, even in windy conditions,” Hueston said. “You just cast it out, slowly retrieve it and let that oscillator tail do all the work for you.

“From a novice to a pro, you take someone out and give them this bait, and they find it’s easy to catch fish, so they gain a lot of confidence.”

Often, Hueston will throw his swimbait near a mangrove shoreline and watch snook run out and flash on it. When this aggressive display fails to connect, he’ll throw his bait up to the mangrove edge, dead stick it and let it fall. On the descent, he said, that active tail motion typically triggers the fish to eat what they mistake for wounded prey.

For optimal bite response, Hueston offers this advice: “When you get hit, wait for a second, then slow roll the hook set, instead of immediately jerking the bait. Feel the bite, let him get it, then set the hook.

“You’ll catch more snook that way.”


LIVETARGET lures are designed and engineered to build unwavering confidence through measurable success: catching more and bigger fish. Through a highly evolved research and development process, no detail is overlooked and no shortcuts are taken in the pursuit of perfection. Expect nothing less than anatomically precise profiles, ultra-realistic details and meticulously tuned, species-specific actions. By creating baits that look and act like natural forage, they’re no longer baits. They become real.

LIVETARGET is a member of the Mustad family of premium fishing brands. Setting the standard for the global hook market since 1877, Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. Together with TUF-LINE and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.

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