How To Hook A Sand Flea | Great Days Outdoors

How to Hook a Sand Flea

If you’re a surf fisherman looking for how to hook a sand flea in multiple different ways, you’ve come to the right place. These tiny crustaceans make excellent bait for a variety of fish, including pompano, whiting, and redfish. It would seem that hooking a sand flea would be pretty straightforward, but there are a few tips and tricks that will make your bait stay on the hook longer, cast better, and be more attractive to gamefish. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to get you up to speed whether you’re fishing Pompano rigs or jigs. 


What Is A Sand Flea?

On the Northwest Florida Fishing Report, I recently caught up with surf fishing guide, Weldon Hall to get his best practices for hooking sand fleas. Weldon operates Sand Flea Outfitters, a popular choice for anglers looking to get more experience surf fishing and rent surf fishing gear in Destin, Florida, and surrounding areas. Weldon is an expert surf angler, and he was kind enough to share his knowledge with us here. 

Q: Weldon, What exactly is a sand flea?

A: “Sand fleas have a barrel-shaped shell and they burrow into the sand in the swash (which is the layer of water that washes up the beach after an incoming wave has broken) and use their feathery antennae to filter plankton from the incoming waves. A sand flea can hold its appendages close to its body so it can roll in the waves and where they land, they dig in for concealment with only its antennae exposed. They have five sets of legs and a “digger” which helps them to do just that and once dug in, helps them anchor. They can only move back when they are on the wet sand.  They are basically immobile when they are on dry sand.”


sand flea

Sand fleas are the perfect bait for beach fishing. (Photo courtesy of Weldon Hall, Sand Flea Outfitters)


Hook Size for Sand Fleas

Q: What Size hook do you like for Pompano and other fish you target with sand fleas?

A: “My rule of thumb is that whatever the size of the sand fleas you are using you want to match your hook size to that sand flea length as closely as possible. You can use a Kahle hook or a circle hook.”


how to hook a sand flea

You sand flea hooks should be around the same size as the sand fleas themselves. (Photo courtesy of Weldon Hall, Sand Flea Outfitters)




How To Hook Sand Fleas

Q: How do you like to hook sand fleas so they stay on during the cast and don’t die as quickly?

A: “I’ve found the best way to hook them and keep on is to start at the bottom with your hook point going through the digger tail and that kind of pins them onto the hook and then you come up through the back of the shell.”


mole crab with hook

Start your hook on the bottom of the sand flea, going through its digger tail. (Photo courtesy of Weldon Hall, Sand Flea Outfitters)


“The trick is to use a drill back and forth just to make a small hole at the point and gently ease it through. If you jam it through you will crack the shell and the bait is going to swing off almost immediately. If you can get the hook through without cracking the shell and get past the barb he will stay on.”


hook through sand flea

Be careful not to crack the shell of your sand fleas when you are putting them on your hook. (Photo courtesy of Weldon Hall, Sand Flea Outfitters)


“I like to tip my sand fleas with the Fishbites E-Z Crab or Fishbites Fish’N Strips Sand Flea about the size of my thumbnail. Not only will it help attract fish but it helps to keep the sand flea on the hook and if the sand flea does get flipped off you still have bait in the water. A little piece of orange Fishbites looks like eggs (spawn) in a female and can attract a bite.”



Adding a small strip of orange Fishbites can make your sand fleas look like they are full of eggs, which can help attract fish. (Photo courtesy of Weldon Hall, Sand Flea Outfitters)


Pompano Sand Flea Jig

A Pompano jig is a popular fishing lure designed to mimic the movement and appearance of a sand flea, a common prey for Pompano. This type of jig typically features a lead head with a hook and a colorful tail made of feathers, silicone, or synthetic materials. To use a sand flea Pompano jig, cast it into the surf and allow it to sink to the bottom. Then, slowly reel it in, bouncing it along the sand to imitate the natural movement of a sand flea. Pompano fish are known to be attracted to this type of jig, so be ready for a strike at any moment. You can utilize pompano jigs, such as the Sea Striker or Bomber Nylure models, or banana-type jigs like Goofy jigs or Buccaneer Wiggler jigs to hang your sand fleas and add some scent and realism to your jig. 


sand flea on jigs

You can also rig your sand flea on a pompano jig when you are doing some surf fishing. (Photo courtesy of Weldon Hall, Sand Flea Outfitters)


When choosing a sand flea Pompano jig, consider the size and color of the lure, as well as the weight of the lead head. Lighter jigs are better for shallow water, while heavier jigs are better for deeper water or strong currents. Overall, the Pompano jig is a versatile and effective lure that can help you catch Pompano in a variety of conditions. With a little practice and experimentation, you can learn to use this jig to its full potential and enjoy the thrill of catching pompano on lighter tackle than you can with set rigs. Jigs also give you the advantage of being able to cover ground on flat calm days when reading the beach is easier but you do not have the surf action to aid you in getting fish moving. 



Sand fleas are the perfect bait to land pompano from the beach.


Closing Thoughts on How to Hook a Sand Flea

Along with Ghost Shrimp, Sand fleas are an awesome bait for surf fishing when they are available. There’s something very gratifying about heading down to the beach and making bait with what is already there. Both Options are awesome bait but if you don’t thread them on your hook of choice correctly, they are hard to keep on. Learning how to hook a sand flea is a fundamental part of successful surf fishing. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of catching fish with these crustaceans and increase the excitement of surf fishing for you and anyone you bring. 

Full Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. There’s no extra charge to our readers for using these.

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