There’s nowhere quite like the Cape Cod Canal, where on any given trip, 30-plus-pound stripers could be smashing mackerel around your ankles or slurping squid at the very end of your longest cast.
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For the latter scenario, a long-casting topwater, like the OutCast Lures Long Caster Pencil Popper, can help deliver a big profile to those middle-of-the-ditch bass.
Of course, on some days, those distant stripers want smaller baits, and under those conditions, a more compact pencil or pencil-popper hybrid, like the Tsunami Talkin’ Popper XD, will go the distance and trigger the bite with its splashy walking action.
There are also days when the frantic action of a pencil popper is too much movement, and the stripers take a liking to a more controlled and rhythmic splashing action that can be attained with a bottleneck style popper, such as the Super Strike Little Neck Popper.
Canal stripers aren’t always on the surface; they spend a lot of time in the ditch hanging just above the bottom. To get them to bite, it’s tough to beat the simplicity of a paddletail swimbait, like the FishLab Mad Eel. Built with a heavy jighead, sturdy hook, and long, slender profile, just get this lure to the bottom, and let the Canal current, and that tail, do the rest.
Depending on the forage in the Canal, there are plenty of instances when a paddletail with a fuller profile gets noticed over a smaller, slender menu item. That’s when the Al Gag’s Whip-It Fish—which sits flush to the jighead to minimize resistance in heavy current—excels with its fast-sinking abilities and pronounced kicking action.
Sometimes, the bass hunker down out of reach of heavy plastics, so these conditions call for a Canal classic metal lure, like a 4- to 5-ounce Crippled Herring or Hopkins No=Eql to mimic bait like silver hake—more commonly called whiting—or herring.
These wide-profile metals launch far, sink fast, and have a seductive flutter on a lift-and-drop retrieve that is killer on Canal stripers.
Speaking of classics, the rise of paddletail jigs made many anglers forget about the effectiveness of a well-fished straight-tail plastic, like the 10-inch Original Hogy. Glue or zip tie a 10-inch Hogy to a 4-ounce jighead and bounce it right over a drop-off or into a hole, where a big striper will be waiting to ambush it.
When schools of bass pin large schools of bait to the rocks, a large swimming plug, like the Daiwa SP Minnow, is often needed to carve one away from the herd. This shallow-diving minnow plug swims true on a slow or steady retrieve, and the sinking models frequently receive vicious takes even when the current is ripping, so hang on tight.
As the tide switch approaches and the current slows, opt for a realistic lure capable of swimming at a controlled pace, like the Savage Gear 3D Mackerel Stick Bait. Similar to twitch baits and increasingly-popular custom gliders, this slow-sinking stickbait swims in an S-pattern when steadily retrieved, but can be twitched-and-paused to draw strikes lower in the water column.
When stripers are feeding on smaller forage, the Rapala X-Rap Long Cast offers a low-profile, slow-sinking swimming plug that outcasts minnow plugs of similar size. With a twitch of the rod tip, it darts effectively and slowly flutters downward to mimic a mortally wounded baitfish, drawing violent strikes on the pause.