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Shad may be little more than catfish bait in some parts of the country, but on the East Coast, migrating American shad offer light-tackle and fly anglers serious spring sport. Flutter spoons and chenille shad bugs are go-to weapons for spin and fly anglers, respectively, but both produce even better when another lure takes the lead. So try these juiced-up rigs.

Lip Service

Illustrations by PeteSucheski

Remove the hooks from a metallic-finish diving crankbait and tie a 25-inch piece of 8-pound fluorocarbon to the rear eye. Next, tie a flutter spoon to the tag end of the fluoro. The crankbait will take this rig farther than a single dart, and the lure will pull the flutter spoon down toward the bottom when it digs into the current. This is advantageous on sunny days when light-sensitive shad hug the riverbed. The crankbait acts as an attractor, and its wobble gives more life to the trailing spoon.

Depth Charging


To up the ante when flyfishing for shad, start by connecting a 24-inch heavy-grain sink tip to the end of your floating line. Attach a 7-foot 3X leader to the sink tip, and tie on an epoxy spoon fly. From the bend in the hook, run a 15- to 18-inch piece of leader, and tie on your favorite shad fly. The sink tip will get this double rig down quickly, and once your line starts to swing in the current, the spoon fly will ramp up visual appeal, while giving the rear fly a more erratic action.