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What follows is a real testimonial from a very experienced offshore fisherman.
I asked Larry to write an article because I have always admired his writing skills and he agreed on two terms,
that he purchased his own lures and that he could write up what he did with them at the end of the season.
While many of these type articles are written as fluff/sales pieces, this article was written as a true account of his experiences
and was edited back from it's full length by OTW editors to fit space considerations.

Salty’s Sandeel Needle
www.saltybugger.com
scott@saltybugger.com

By Larry Backman

Scott Bullock was a fisherman on a mission. One too many saltwater plugs had let him down one too many times, so he decided to start making his own plugs. Now five years later, he has a thriving plug business that is spread through word of mouth by Northeast fishermen who have found success using Salty’s Custom Plugs.

   Originally designed for striped bass and bluefish, Scott’s needlefish-style plug, the Salty’s Sandeel Needle, has gained a tremendous following of bluefin tuna fishermen. Salty’s Sandeel Needles are made from birch or maple (depending on size and weight) rather than the more typical pine, and are sealed with a special finish before being hand painted. The tight-grained wood does not split or swell like lesser wooden lures. I have a couple of plugs that have seen their share of rocks along the Elizabeth Islands, and although they are banged and bruised, they still cast and fish perfectly.
   Scott is a craftsman, and as he worked to perfect the individual lures, he realized that consistency is a key element of perfection. Accordingly, he has set up his shop with computer numerical control (CNC) machinery to cut the wood to a repeatable size and shape, producing a perfectly consistent lure body every time. Each lure goes through more than 26 individual steps in his machine shop before being packaged. A custom sealant protects the lure from water intrusion, and a multi-layer, multicolor paint job produces a finish and a color scheme second to none. Scott has even created a number of innovative lure finishes, such as a glow-in-the-dark set of eyes and a blue, purple and black color scheme that makes his “predator” needle ideal for those pitch-black, moonless nights on the beach.
   All of Salty’s Custom Plugs are through-wired, so you will never lose a fish to a hook eye pulling out. They are well balanced, constructed with either a pair of VMC treble hooks or a belly treble and a larger VMC Siwash hook at the tail. The hooks are the only imported component in Scott’s plugs; he takes great pride in the fact that all other components are manufactured in the United States.
   Salty’s Sandeel Needle comes in three sizes: a 1-ounce “stubby” needle, a 2.5-ounce full-size needle, and a 3.5-ounce needle. The 1-ounce stubby needlefish is neutrally buoyant and will suspend or just sink very slowly if allowed to drift. The full-size needlefish plugs are slow sinkers that descend tail first, so you can work the bottom if you let them sink. To achieve a perfect a sand eel imitation, Scott recommends twitching your rod tip after letting them sink to a sandy bottom. They can also be fished with a slow retrieve, keeping the rod tip up while maintaining contact with the lure, and throwing in an occasional twitch of the rod tip to impart an injured-baitfish action to the lure. Scott recommends either trying them with a teaser about 2 feet in front of the lure or working them in a manner similar to a pencil popper, twitching your rod tip while reeling to keep them right on top. But in general, explains Scott, retrieve them slowly for stripers, and rip them FAST for albies, bonito and tuna.
   I started reading about Salty’s Sandeel Needle three years ago on a number of Internet fishing bulletin boards. According to the reports, these lures worked like magic when tossed to a striped bass. If you believed what you read, the lures were a cut above the older-style wooden lures I was still fishing with. I paid the reports little attention.
  Then bluefin tuna invaded Cape Cod Bay, and Captain Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters started writing report after report featuring the Salty’s Sandeel Needle, a perfect imitation of the 6-inch sand eels that the tuna were feeding on in the bay. His reports went on and on about bluefin coming out of nowhere to crash the plug. I still paid little attention, even when other guides and fishermen started chiming in with Ortiz-type statistics: “Went 3 for 4 on Salty’s Needles,” or “2 for 5 yesterday.” Nicknames like “Tuna Crack” were even starting to get thrown around in reference to the olive or yellow-colored Salty’s Needle!
   I did, however, pay heed to the continued praise regarding absolutely no lure failures when hooked up. That caught my attention, and this year I asked Scott to recommend the best selection for offshore fishing. I ended up with an assortment that included three stubby needles and two full-size needles.
   Last July, I finally got the chance to see what all the fuss was about. I was trolling 16 miles east of Chatham Light in calm conditions. We already had a bluefin tuna in the boat, the sun was high, the seas were calm and the tuna were still visible everywhere, but the bite had completely died. My trolling spread wasn’t working, my mate’s brand-name popper wasn’t working off the bow, and we were going crazy. On went a Salty’s Needle, and it raised three strikes in ten minutes.
   I was convinced!
   A short while later, I got another chance to see these plugs work their magic at the offshore canyons. We were fishing the line of high flyers that rim the 100-fathom line. These radar-reflective floats are connected to a series of lobster pots 600 feet down and provide the only structure for baitfish within 100 miles. Salty’s Needles were automatic for mahi. Toss one within 10 yards of a flyer and all hell would break loose, mahi by the dozens chasing after the lure and fighting each other to be the first to attack it. We even had a 5-foot wahoo streak out and over a green-colored Needle, rocketing completely out of the water as it missed the lure!
   The best field test, however, came on September 1. We had made a miserable trip to the 100-fathom line, had not seen or found tuna, and had only a couple mahi to show for the 100-mile trip. It was a flat-calm day and I was running the boat from the tower to add some interest on the long ride home. Coming through The Dump, I spotted breaking fish and threw the boat hard over. We had found the mother lode! Acres of rolling bluefin tuna, stacked as deep as you could see in the water, swam in front of the boat, next to the boat, and behind the boat – but they would not touch a thing in the spread! Christian Valle, an ex-commercial tuna fisherman, called them “breezing” fish and declared them uncatchable without a harpoon.
   On went an olive Salty’s Needle, and up went a crewmember to the bow. It wasn’t hard to cast to fish – they were everywhere. Two casts, and he was on. Who needs a harpoon, I said, when you have a Salty’s Needle?

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Salty's ships worlwide!

All images and pages Copyright 2002-2015 by Scott Bullock/Salty's

**Flat rate shipping does not include liquid items, wood squares or oversize items.
These items may be additional depending on size & weight. 
All items under 150lb are subject to Federal Sportfishing Excise tax.
More information can be found on our sales policies page.

Salty's is Safe and Secure for online transactions!

Salty's ships worlwide!

All images and pages Copyright 2002-2015 by Scott Bullock/Salty's

**Flat rate shipping does not include liquid items, wood squares or oversize items.
These items may be additional depending on size & weight. 
All items under 150lb are subject to Federal Sportfishing Excise tax.
More information can be found on our sales policies page.