Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Finally, some “UK bass size”, off the shelf and not very expensive needlefish are now available in the UK - yippee!

You need to know a couple of things here before I get into this - my experience so far of bass fishing with needlefish revolves around whacking them out and winding them in at night over shallow ground with no obvious current, very much like I might fish a senko at night for bass, and if you read this blog post and fancy getting some of these new to the UK needlefish, from the links I will be giving you I would make a very small commission via affiliate linking. Please, please go looking elsewhere for these needlefish if that bothers you, and if you want to think that this is purely a marketing post then I can’t do much about that. I would far rather you look at this blog post as me being really happy to finally see some not very expensive needlefish available to buy here in the UK and wanting to tell you about it - but I must leave it up to you………….

Anyway, because most of my catching bass at night over the last few years has been on the white senkos - and sometimes struggling with them a bit when there’s a side wind and/or slightly bouncier conditions - when it comes to needlefish and wanting what in their most basic sense I feel they can give me here (cutting through wind and waves that bit better, and having a treble hook on the end, see here for why, etc.), I don’t want those great big lures that are designed for striped bass and the heavier gear that is mostly used for their shore fishing across the pond. Nope, for the moment I have been wanting what is basically a hard version of a senko, and then perhaps a slightly larger, slightly heavier version for those times when it’s useful to have a bit more weight and/or profile.


I really like the smaller, 18g (14cm, or 5.5’’) needlefish that is made by Jim’s Lures (photo above) - it’s made of wood, it works well for bass, casts great, is handmade, and is not a cheap lure as such. They are handmade, hence the price I guess, and let’s face it, you are unlikely to go and lose many needlefish if you are winding it in so that it’s swimming either just below or actually on the surface. The lures come unrigged by the way. These 18g ones cast really well and they have caught bass for me.

So how about some off the shelf needlefish that can be had for £9.99 here in the UK? A while back I mentioned finding some lures like this when I was over in the US the other day, and a couple of switched on tackle dealers I know got in touch to ask if I knew where they might source these lures and bring them into the UK for their customers. I didn’t think I would ever find these smaller needlefish again after buying a couple out on Martha’s Vineyard a few years back, letting them sit gathering dust for ages, then spraying them white last year, taking them out bass fishing and catching on them straight away - yet again, how much is confidence to do with lure fishing?

Anyway, so I was in the well known Cape Cod Canal based shop Redtop Tackle recently and I asked my friend Bull whether he by any chance knew about these smaller, plastic needlefish that came out of Martha’s Vineyard, not thinking for one second that they’d stock them around the Canal. I couldn’t believe it when Bull led me over to a rack of these lures - kinda like leading a junkie to his next fix! With how much the US anglers like their great big needlefish for striped bass, it was a real surprise to find these Spofford’s needlefish lures again. They were not remotely expensive, and yes, I bought a bunch because I didn’t think we’d be seeing them here in the UK and they are exactly what I want for my bass fishing. These Spofford’s Lures are made from what I think is ABS plastic over on Martha’s Vineyard in the US. I don’t think the hooks are up to much and I replace them on mine - it’s easy, and this is coming from an idiot at DIY! You can actually buy a fairly substantial 42g version, but the two sizes that I bought and have caught bass on are the 17g (actually 15.8g with two trebles on), and the slightly larger 28g one (actually 23g with two trebles on).


Above is the smaller 17g Spofford’s Lures needlefish in the two colours that I have here - White and White Green (you can also get Black, White Lime and Chartreuse). It comes rigged with three treble hooks which I think is overkill, and I don’t like the look of the trebles on them that much - you can simply unscrew the components for the front and middle trebles and replace (I don’t put a middle treble on there), and then at the rear of the lure you need to slightly unscrew the ring thing, open it up slightly with a long nose pair of pliers, and replace the hook. Close the eye of the ring thing back down and screw it back into the lure night and tight. If I can do it, believe me, you can do it far more easily. You might not want to bother changing the hooks, but I just don’t like the look of them. Rigged with a couple of size 4 trebles this 17g version comes in at 15.8g and it’s 13cm long, or just over 5’’. Imagine a hard 5’’ senko that absolutely flies, for this is what this particular Spofford’s needlefish reminds me of. The first bass I caught on the one I had sprayed white was actually during the day last year, slowly retrieving it like I might a senko - which makes no sense I know when I am retrieving a senko faster at night than I would during the day, but it’s fishing, and we’re never going to understand it all.


And above is the next size up - on the website here it says 28g, but rigged with a couple of size 2 trebles it comes in at 23g, and the lure is 17cm long, or very nearly 7’’. This thing seriously flies and it feels very stable through the wind and in the water. I caught bass the first time I used this lure here in the UK which of course gave me all the confidence I needed that firstly they worked for our bass, and secondly that the “few” I had bought in the US weren’t a wasted investment! I changed the hooks on this one as well, just follow the details from above.

These are some incredibly simple lures, but they are exactly what I have been looking for - and yes, it slightly fries my brain that I actually had a couple sitting here that for far too long I simply didn’t have the confidence to take out and use. How have chucking white senkos at night changed my bass fishing for the better, because as well as the options it has given me, it has also given me the confidence to start messing around with lures like these Spofford’s ones. I like having options, and especially if there’s a bit more wind and bounce on the sea that I was expecting, and as much as I will be experimenting with single hooks on these needlefish sometime soon, having that (treble) hook right on the end of the lure caught me a bunch of fish earlier in the year when the bass were hitting and hitting the senkos but not hooking up on the large single weedless hooks.

So there you go - the size and weights of needlefish I have been looking for, and which means I don’t have to step up to a heavier class of lure rod to fish the one type of lure, and they are now available to buy here in the UK. I know bass will hit really big lures sometimes, but where I am with lure fishing right not I am not feeling the need for them. As I said, please bear in mind my lack of experience with needlefish in general (and I would urge you to search my Guest Blog Posts for Keith White’s excellent series on fishing with needlefish), and also you need to know that I have not taken these hard plastic Spofford’s needlefish out and let them swing in a run of current etc. I have been whacking them out, winding them in, and catching bass on them, so while I accept 100% that there is so, so much more to these simple straight sticks, at the end of the day you can still head out to the right spots at the right times and with the right conditions and chuck lures out at night that are doing so little obvious stuff in the water when you wind them in - and catch bass on them. Does there need to be much more to it at times?

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.