The Gibbs Needlefish Lure is made of wood and floats.
The Super Strike Needlefish Lure is made of plastic and sinks. But the plastic body has air chambers, and it sinks slowly.
Stetzko Needlefish Lures are hand crafted from wood.
Needlefish lures became popular during late seventies and early eighties, when surf fishermen around the Cape Cod Canal and Block Island found that they were very effective for catching striped bass when sand eels were the predominant bait, especially at night.
The needlefish type lures that were available in those days, made by Boone, were not very rugged, and were often damaged by the larger stripers, and sometimes fish were lost. Don Musso, designer of the Super Strike line of popping lures, was the first to build really rugged needlefish lures with strong swivels and through-the-body wiring. Super Strike Needlefish are among the best of these type lures, even today.
Gibbs came out with their version of the Needlefish lure soon after. Al Gagliarduci introduced a wooden version called the Gags Needlefish in 1984.
Needlefish lures have no lips, or blunt or concave ends, so they don't provide much action on their own when retrieved. However in rips, and such places, the moving water provides the action. So just retrieve the lure slow and straight and let the moving water do the work.
The next question is what color. If you go to Montauk, the fishermen are all using yellow. In June of 2009, Mike Coppola caught a 55.75 pound striper at Montauk on a yellow Super Strike needlefish lure.
Needlefish lures are most popular in places like Montauk and Block Island, where they have boulder fields and rocky bottoms, like shown in the photo below. When sand eels are around, the needlefish lure provides the long thin profile that imitates the sand eel. You can retrieve the needlefish lure without hitting the bottom and getting snagged on the rocks. The Gibbs Needlefish lure, which floats, is the easiest to use. Although the Super Strike Needlefish lure sinks it comes back near the surface when retrieved, so you can avoid hitting the bottom, and getting snagged, if you are careful.
Super Strike Darter
Northbar Tackle Bottledarter
Yo-Zuri Mag Darter
At these same locations, darters are often used, if the bait is not narrow, but something with a wider profile, like peanut bunker.
Darters are similar, but shorter and fatter than needlefish lures.
The Yo-zuri Mag Darter utilizes a magnetic weight transfer system which helps the mag Darter cast like a bullet. The slanted head makes for a unique darting and rolling action on a straight retrieve or twitching retrieve and can be fished in surf and heavy current situations.
These surf fishermen are fishing for striped bass from a rocky shore at Montauk. They are probably using needlefish lures, or darters.