The Best Lures for California Halibut

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Aside from live baits, the best California halibut lures help you bag the Paralichthys californicus species, also known as the California Halibut. Many California anglers favor using artificial lures for fishing for this California game fish.

california halibut lures
California halibut is a trophy fish of SoCal. Source: Jim Hendricks

The species of California halibut love feeding on mackerels, anchovy, squid, and sardines. Using these live baits in halibut fishing is a good choice for the fish to use their sharp teeth and take a bite right away.

Although these baits are good enough, halibut species will readily strike on various artificials. Here are the best lures you can use for a different experience in bagging halibut, the California game fish.

6 Best Lures to Catch California Halibut

1. Plastic Tube Bait

Halibut caught on Berkley’s Power bait proves its efficacy in fishing this game fish. It is 100% biodegradable and ensures a convenient fishing experience that will suit your needs.

This bait’s flavor and scent can cover a larger surface area and release more with every bite, which causes the bottom fish to hold on 18x longer. The color design makes this lure highly visible underwater. 

2. Twin tails

The Strike King plastic tails have a unique design engineered to serve a specific purpose. The customized hi-grade plastic lure ensures superior action for productive fishing of California halibut. Each rage tail makes a splash or other action more noticeable to the fish.

3. Grubs

The gulp grub is one of the most ideal and best saltwater lures for ocean fish and other species. The California species of halibut are attracted to this grub. Its swimming tail action is challenging to resist. Halibut fish from the greater range like to swim toward the lure.

This is because of its realistic design and rapid scent dispersion as it goes to the bottom of the ocean. This is one for productivity and durability with its lifelike texture and Gulp! Attractant.

4. Seastriker Jig

This jig tied with a natural bucktail is a killer lure when you bait it correctly. Its live-action tail is effective when you drag it across the bottom slowly and as close to the boat as possible. One downside is your jig will get snagged. Changing the hook to a single will cut down the chances and aid in a quick release of short fish. 

5. Hopkins Spoon

This stainless steel short-hammered spoon runs deep and is more active at slower speeds. The California halibut goes nuts for the natural nasty wobble this spoon makes. It comes in attractive colors of all chrome.

One thing to watch out for with this spoon is the strikes in the fall. The massive action they give in the fall attracts California halibut from a distance.

6. Rapala Plug

The Rapala plug has a tall, skinny body shape. It has a distinctively loud BB rattle system, making it an excellent bait for California halibut. The ideal tactic with this plug is casting it out farther and letting it sink to around twenty feet at the bottom.

When using this, one thing to consider is the water current, as too strong a current will not let the plug sink.

Halibut Rigs

An effective California halibut rig includes a sliding egg sinker. Usually, a two-ounce sinker works well in halibut fishing. The sinker’s weight varies with the water’s current speed, water depth, and line class.

Larger hooks work well for mackerel and other bigger baits. You need to pass the hook point upward through its lower jaw in rigging an anchovy to catch the California halibut. This hook will go through the solid portion of the nose.

The California halibut rigging system allows the sinker to drag and skip along the bottom with the bait or lure trailing above and behind it. This terminal rig ensures the angler uses a conventional reel to monitor each California halibut movement as it takes the bait.

Customized Lures

Fishing for California halibut with the artificials, you want your lures to resemble the baitfish. Customizing your favorite artificials to look like a mackerel or baitfish makes the halibut experience even more fun.

What you need to make custom-made California halibut lures are the following:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Marine varnish
  • Pearlescent nail polish

To make a mackerel imitation lure, paint the lure with a medium-dark green base. Add navy blue squiggles about an eighth of an inch wide. This should go from the lateral line on one side up over the plastic’s back and reach the other side.

The lower half or belly should be white or pale green. After the acrylic paint is added, apply marine varnish for three coats should seal the paint in. Variations are possible with shades of blue and green or rootbeer and gold colors. 

California halibut also loves grunions. Add light blue-grey paint on the topside and a white belly of the lure. After the paint, coat it with at least two coats of pearlescent nail polish and seal it with three marine varnish coats. 

Aside from fish, squids are also candy baits for halibut, California game fish. Using a squid-patterned plug can be extremely effective for California halibut and even bass species. The first step is removing the hooks and sanding the plug with fine paper. A pale pink or peach paint creates a base color for your lure.

After the base color has been added, the confetti pattern should be applied. Dip your brush in squid-like colors and dot it on the plug to trick the California halibut. Applying several coats of pearlescent polish is ideal before sealing with three coats of marine varnish. 

Frequently Asked Question

What is the limit on California halibut?

California halibut is one of the best game fish in SoCal. You can fish this species all year for recreational fun. Although to avoid its further decline in number, Fish and Wildlife have regulated its fishery to control its statistics. You can only bag and possess three fish north of Point Sur, Monterey County, and five in the south. Your California halibut minimum size limit is 22 inches in length. Fishing halibut, the California game fish, is fun and enjoyable. Make sure to practice sound fishing principles to protect this species.

Insider Advice

Retrieving the artificial plastics works well when done slowly. The California halibut will follow the artificials and strike when you start pumping it back to the surface.

Jig and spoon can be done by slowly doing a yo-yo a foot off the bottom or using a similar retrieve for the plastics. Yo-yoing is the repetitive process of dropping your lure to the bottom of the sea bed and retrieving it up into the water column, and letting it sink once again.  Fishing for California halibut with lures is a different experience, but it makes for fun and challenging fishing. 

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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