Fish Hack: The Saldad Triple Threat

Necessity is the mother of invention, especially for anglers

These days it seems every time we log on to social media people are sharing interesting little life hacks. Some are extremely useful while others are trivial at best. The Urban Dictionary defines a life hack as a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Well, through in-stream trial and tribulation this fisherman has developed a technique, born of necessity, that has served him well for several years. As a matter of fact, over a recent lunch time conversation it was suggested that I share my fishing hack here on the “pages” of WildIndiana.

Several seasons ago I had one of those magic days on the stream. It was mid-spring and the smallies were smashing anything that resembled a crawdad in a light tan or green color. I started off fishing a 1/8 oz. jig head with a twist tail grub and was getting short hits and casual interest, but could tell my presentation was just a little off. When I saw a respectable fish turn off a pursuit of my lure to snatch up a light-colored soft crawdad, the light went on.

They were hungry, just not for minnow simulators. After digging through my tackle bag for a few minutes and coming up with nothing craw-like, I was at a loss. I then found a package of Zoom salamanders in the very bottom of the bag that I had accidentally snatched up with the twist tails. With a little quick trimming, I soon had a very passable crawdad body for my jig head. The fish went crazy for my improvised masterpiece and I fished the rubber off that jig several times. The head and front legs of the salamander made for a very convincing crawdad simulation when trimmed from the rest of the body just behind the front legs.

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The next day when I returned to a different section of the creek, I had already decided to try the one-off lure again to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke. The success rate was exactly what I had hoped for. About two-thirds of the way down the section of stream, I realized I was using the last of my “Saldad” baits.

Fortunately, by that time I had amassed a nice little collection of back legs and tails. When one of the fish tore the claw (formerly a front leg) from my last Saldad, I was forced to improvise once again. As it turns out, the hind legs and tail proved to be extremely effective on a variety of other species living among the smallmouth bass.

I still caught smallmouth but also was now hooking up with bluegill, the ever-present goggle-eye and green sunfish, too. The trident formed from the back legs and tail was just too much action to not trigger a strike. I still caught the bronzebacks I was targeting; I just caught a lot of other stuff, too!

I continue to invest in Zoom salamanders every season and now have an economical triple threat in my fishing bag. I have the saldads for smallmouth, the tridents for all other panfish and the whole salamander for those times when I find largemouth in the deep pools. I have found the best colors to be light green and tan as these closely resemble the color of a freshly molted soft craw while I also keep some purple on hand for extremely stained water.

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I try to match the jig head to the color of the body and have seen a noticeable benefit from adding a red eye to the head with a paint pen. I dunno, it works for me. Try it out and let us know how it works for you! Send photos of your results to to be featured on our Trophy Room page.

May your waders be often wet and the inside be always dry! See you on the water.

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Don Cranfill
A native Hoosier, and son of a tournament fisherman, Don literally grew up on the water. Early in life he developed a passion for two things, paddling and fly fishing. Don can often be found stalking the limestone creeks of southern Indiana for Smallmouth Bass, while the off seasons are spent crafting custom hardwood canoe and kayak paddles, making figured-wood fly tying bases and developing the ultimate fly. Contact: or at


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