With many of the saltwater species he chases way up the St. Johns River fond of finger mullet, Jacksonville, Fla. guide Capt. Chris Holleman puts a lot of casts behind his Cotton Cordell Red-Fins.

The biggest benefit, he said is the bait’s orientation. A Red-Fin, Holleman said, parallels the bottom so its lip doesn’t catch on oyster shells like baits that tilt too far forward.

Keenly imitating this top-shelf coastal forage, the shallow diving lure entices plenty of strikes, but Holleman modifies his baits for the tougher, more demanding saltwater game.

Change Hooks: First thing he does is replace the stock hooks with 4X strong No. 6 trebles (preferably black nickel) so his bait can stand up to the powerful snook, redfish and baby tarpon he often encounters.

Remove Split Ring: This hardware is designed to optimize the bait’s mobility, as it swings on the front eye. However, Holleman finds that the heavy fluorocarbon leader needed for the saltwater environment mars the bait’s action, when tied to a split ring. Removing the ring and tying his leader directly to the plug with a loop knot maintains the action that tempts those crushing strikes.

For targeting saltwater species, Holleman finds the metallic gold and silver colors best. Properly tweaked, the Red-Fin gives him great confidence in a variety of inshore habitats.