September 22 2020

How To Fish Needlefish Lures For Striped Bass


Needles rank as one of the most versatile plugs in the surf casters arsenal, and they are simplistic in design.

For all intents and purposes, a needle is simply a weighted, tapered plug of wood or plastic, with no inherent or inbuilt action.

This lack of any existing action is what makes the needle so deadly, and so versatile as a surf plug. The angler has complete control over the plug, which means that needles can be a great choice in a variety of situations.


Sinking vs. Floating

Most needles sink, either at a slow, moderate, or fast rate of speed-depending on the build and style. Some plug builders also make floating variations of the needle, an option that can be deadly in certain conditions (for instance when fishing a shallow-flooded boulder field with moderate sweep).

That said, sinking needles are generally the most versatile choice for most surf anglers. Luckily for us the number of builders and styles of needlefish plugs on the market means that there is an option for almost every condition, from shallow boulder fields, to deep outflows, to casting into heavy onshore winds and big surf.

needlefish for striped bass fishing on cape cod

The trick of course is in choosing what needle to toss in a particular situation. I generally find slow or moderate sinkers to be the most versatile from most beaches and boulder fields

Heavier, fast sinkers are a good choice when targeting deeper waters, or when extra long casts are necessary to reach the fish or structure. Stubby weighted needles are my go-to when casting into sloppy conditions, or when it’s necessary to cut through the wind.

Different Needlefish Retrieves

About the author 

Calvin Toran-Sandlin

Calvin is a passionate surfcaster who grew up in the town of Falmouth here on Cape Cod. Calvin joined My Fishing Cape Cod as a member back in April of 2020, and he quickly became one of the top posters inside our forum.

  • I have a problem keeping tension on the line when fishing needlefish (or any other plugs) in heavy surf. The waves push the plug in fast.

    Would you use needlefish in these conditions or switch to a bucktail?

    • I am far from a needlefish expert Ken, but if the surf is really big, then a heavier, sinking needlefish will make it easier to keep tension on the line, as opposed to using a lighter version. A bucktail would also do the trick. LMK if I can help answer anything else. Hope all is well down south!

  • Great read. I’ve had just a few incredible sunrises using a bullet needle getting out over the third wave for the beach. But probably blind luck on a very slow retrieve. This is great information!

    • Appreciate the kind reply. I’ve fortunate to have been able to put in quality time on the water with some great teachers and I always enjoy sharing a little bit of what has worked for me in turn. Tight lines!

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