Spade Fish

Charleston Offshore Fishing | Capt Will Adams | April 2021

Pound for pound, spade fish are the toughest, yet most sought after fish when fishing near shore reefs. Catching these beautiful fish is a thrill, but watching them swarm around the boat during the summer months is incredible.

Mid-April spade fish will start schooling in mass amounts. I normally use jelly balls, however, shrimp and clams work very well. Clams can be used when spade fish are not in tight schools and acting skittish.

When using these always cut the clam carefully so each piece has a part of the foot (The part that attaches to the shell) that way when hooking there is a part that if hooked up properly can be cast with distance and not sling the clam off the hook.  Even store-bought clams work-uncooked of course LOL.

When using shrimp I always peel them first and cut them in the size that will hide the hook as well as weight so it can be cast at a good distance.

Remember that shrimp will start to cook if left out in the sun and heat. It is important that all bait stay fresh on ice.

Also jellyfish and squid are one of their favorite and can be used to chum. During your voyage to your location, keep your eyes out for huge cannon ball jellyfish.

Use your dip net to scoop them out of the water. I always bring five or six extra to drop(once anchored) three or four on a string (or use a fish stringer) below the boat.

I find that once they see them, they try eating them and stay around the boat until they devour them. I also cut them in many pieces for chum.

Squid seems to always work and I highly recommend packing a lot. Once you find what they want, you will use way more than you think

My tackle bag always consists of the following for Spade fish:

1. # 1 & 2 Hook (Mustad) – 15lb and 17lb leader- both floro and mono

2. Small split shots, only use if needed – Small black barrel swivels, only use if needed

3. I enjoy using medium action 7 foot rod paired with a real that can hold a lot of line.  Not only for those long runs spadefish are notorious for, but also if you are cut off, you can continue to fish since your spool still holds lots of line. I use 20 lb braid tipped with 17 lb floro.


Equipment – Search for bait – Anchor up around areas spade fish are spotted – Cham with jelly balls – Bring dip net – Keep bait fresh on ice – Plenty of line.

Tip and tricks of the trade:

Try using orange cork with 4 ft leader.  Spade fish are one of my favorites for many reasons but mainly because they are delicious! If you’re catching one to eat for supper, catch two so you have a practice fish to clean. It can be difficult and sometimes frustrating work so take your time!

If you had luck I’d love to see how it worked out for you, email or find me on Facebook.

Capt. Will Adams – Write off the Rip Charters Tel 843-270-0909 or email:

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