Versatile, capable of catching quantity and quality, and simple to use, paddle tail lures have been some of the hottest baits for stripers over the past several years.
The paddle tail isn’t anything new. It first caught fire among striper fishermen in the early 2000s, when “swim shad” swimbaits were first introduced. Considered classics today, swim shads continue to catch many stripers each season, but the latest evolution in the paddle-tail, the long, slender “sand-eel style” has been all the rage in recent years. This new wave of saltwater paddle tails, like the FishLab Mad Eel and Mack Attack Soft Swimbait, are fitted to jigheads with big eyes, gills, and other realistic flairs.
The magic of these lures lies, as you’d expect, in the tail. The big paddle sends vibrations through the water column. Catching fish on a paddle tail can be as simple as casting out and reeling just fast enough to get the paddle tail thumping. Of course, fishermen can use any number of more nuanced retrieves from lifting and dropping, to bottom-bouncing, and even burning them just below the surface and making a wake. Paddle tails have the versatility of a bucktail jig, without the delicate touch required to bring them alive. The best retrieve, in boats and from shore, seems to be casting out, letting the lure hit bottom, and beginning a slow, steady retrieve. Mix in some hops, drops, and pauses to help entice any following stripers to bite.
While swim shads have a molded internal weight that keeps the lures horizontal on the fall, baits like the FishLab Mad Eel fall nose down, forcing the tail to kick furiously as it drops. The jighead and the slender profile also makes it easier to keep the baits near the bottom, especially in fast current. This has made the sand-eel-style paddle tails a fast favorite of striper fishermen in the Cape Cod Canal and in boats.
The fish-catching action, ability to stay deep, and large profile means that paddle tails are big bass catchers, which is why a sharp, sturdy hook, like the specially designed hook on the FishLab Mad Eel, is essential to keeping bass pinned without bending out.
Introduced in 2019, the FishLab Mad Eel was designed by Mike Bennett, FishLab’s Product Development Manager to have an impressive swimming action and cover a great amount of water. In addition to the lively tail action, the baits have a heavy side-to-side rolling action for increased water displacement, attracting fish in low light, strong current, and stained water conditions. The ribbed belly design sends out even more vibration.
Each package of Mad Eels contains one head and two bodies and are available in three sizes and 7 colors:
- 7 inch, 2.25 ounce
- 7.5 inch, 3.5 ounce
- 8 inch, 5.25 ounce
- Black Ice
- Blue Ice
- Pearl White
- Green Glow
- Blue Mackerel
- Green Mackerel
FishLab Tackle has taken this style of paddle tail further, taking the features that have made the sand-eel-style swimbaits a success and bulking up the profile to match larger baitfish, namely mackerel. The Mack Attack Soft paddle-tail swimbait features a realistic jighead and body, with small details like fins and finlets to help fool larger finicky fish.
The Mack Attack Soft Swimbait is designed to be fished in heavy current or deep-water with presentations like jigging or slow-trolling (like a mojo rig).
Available in three lengths and four colors, the Mack Attack features a heavy-duty jig hook that will hold up to the largest and hardest fighting fish out there.
- 6 1/2 inch / 5.5 oz
- 8 inch / 9 1/2 oz
- 10 inch / 16 oz
- Blue Mackerel
- Green Mackerel
- Purple Mackerel
- Silver/Black Mackerel
• For more information on FishLab tackle and products checkout fishlabtackle.com