The advantage of a pole over a rod and reel is the ability to pick up your cricket, worm or small minnow straight up from one hole in the lily pads, or one side of a fallen branch, and move the bait without attempting to cast. With a tiny float, and a small sinker pinched on the line above your hook, your bait will move freely on the fall, if you use 4- or 6-pound test.
Ingredients: Flexible 16-foot bream buster poles or ultralight spinning rod, with 4- or 6-pound-test monofilament line. Number 6 or 8 Aberdeen style hooks, small slide through floats, and 1/16- to 1/8-ounce pinch-on weights.
The Texas-rigged worm is very effective in the grassy waters typical of Florida lakes and rivers. It is rigged so that the point of the book is shielded by the body of the bait, where it will not snag vegetation.
Two keys to fishing it effectively: choose the right size slide on “bullet” weight, and prick the hook back in the worm so it’s weedless but poised to pop free when a fish strikes. If you’re fishing still, open water, a 1/8-ounce bullet weight will allow your worm to sink slowly and seductively.
Move up, perhaps to a full ounce, if you’re trying to sink a worm through eel grass or other heavy cover. Note: Quickly catching up to the Texas rig, in terms of popularity and effectiveness in Florida waters, is the simple wacky rig, with the hook positioned at the midpoint of a straight worm.
Salt-impregnated Genotype worms are very popular here, and many fishermen use rubber O-rings to affix the small hooks which are most effective with the rig. Texas rig begins with offset-shank hook inserted into head of worm and emerging about a quarter inch back.
Step two of Texas rig, slide worm up to eye of hook, covering offset. Ingredients: Classic Texas rig is best fished on 20-pound braided line with optional 20-pound mono leader.
Medium spinner, or bait caster with rod tip stout enough to drive hook home. The most versatile rig in Florida, the fish finder can be used for everything from freshwater catfish to offshore grouper.
Fishing this rig in an area where you want it to stay put (freshwater catfish, in heavy cover) may require a flat sinker. Using this rig with finger mullet for redfish or flounder requires a short 10- or 12-inch leader to keep the bait from rising too high in the water.
Fishing in deep water, using a 30-foot, 40-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, with an 8-ounce egg sinker can fool the wariest mutton snapper. Just remember to drop your long leader slowly to avoid bait wrapping around the mainline during the descent.
When your rig hits the bottom, just keep letting it roll back with the current. For flounder (which commonly live around rocks and other shaggy bottom) I often use 30-pound monofilament fishing line and a 20-pound leader.
A basic surf fishing rig can be used to catch the usual beach suspects: pompano, whiting, bluefish, shook, redfish and jacks. Almost every big box store you visit will have heavy braided cable “surf rigs.” They may be the ultimate in “too much tackle” for the job.
Pull not as snug as possible, and clip one end, leaving a 16-inch “branch” off main line. Pompano anglers often slide a pink bead above the hooks to imitate sand flea eggs.
The beauty of this rig is, the ease of changing sinkers depending on depth and current. Add a 6-foot surgeon loop to the third eye of one swivel and your main line to the opposite end.
The beauty of this rig is, the ease of changing sinkers depending on depth and current. You’ll feel the bites better on braided line with as small a teardrop sinker as you can hold bottom with.
The rig is superior for schooling bottom fish like sea bass and vermilion snapper. The rig becomes deadly when you allow the bait to swim away (or drift away) in a heavy current.
The click a popping cork puts out, is supposed to perfectly mimic the snap of a shrimp; the splash sounds like a feeding fish. Redfish, trout, shook and flounder all cruise the edges of grass beds, oyster bars, and docks.
Dropping a jig or live shrimp in front of a cruiser, and then calling his name with the snap of a popping cork is a deadly method in 3 to 6 feet of water. The beauty of the rig is, it not only appeals to the fishes sense of hearing, but weighing down your live shrimp or mud minnow with a tiny split shot while leaving it in the strike zone as it drifts along an area, calling up a strike every time you sharply pull on the line just enough to “pop” or “click” the cork.
Ingredients: Popping cork, 2 to 4 feet of 20-pound-test mono leader, 1/16- to ¼-ounce split shot (set 8 inches above the hook) and 3/0 live bait hook or ¼-ounce jig head with soft plastic tail. Whereas South Florida drift boats may provide you with a triple hook rig, using a little stealth will catch you the biggest and best fish on the spot.
Whereas South Florida drift boats may provide you with a triple hook rig, using a little stealth will catch you the biggest and best fish on the spot. Using a figure eight knots will secure your hook on one end and a swivel on the other with a ¼- to ½-ounce egg sinker in between.
I can attest to the fact that the biggest snapper and grouper on a spot will watch the smaller fish get hooked, spit out the bait on the way up, and then gobble what is falling back to the bottom. If you’re king fishing, lose the sinker, and drift the wire rig in a whole bait.
Maybe you moved to Florida with an offshore boat, or maybe your neighbor has invited you fishing for king mackerel. Place the end of the cable through the eye on the flat side of the treble, barely extending beyond shaft.
Hold the wire down while you make six tight wraps of the cable around the shank of the hook, starting at the eye. A correctly rigged ballyhoo will make a huge difference in your fishing success.
Circle hook rigs may well play a role in your first Florida sailfish (they are also deadly on black fin tuna). Without removing them from the tube, wrap the end of each piece through a #3 rubber O ring (if it’s hard to see it in your hand, it’s the right size).
Put a pencil or wooden dowel of similar size through the eyes of a dozen small to medium ballyhoo. Take a rigging needle and bore a hole through the head of a ballyhoo, right where his “lip” is attached.
The copper wire is inserted down through the jaws of the ballyhoo (pull to snug the O-ring tight against the bait). Eyes of bait removed with dowel or arrow shaft, and bill, or beak, was snipped to about one-quarter length.
As basic as bottom fishing may appear, the quality of the rig you drop into the depths has everything to do with your success. Flawless knots, quality terminal tackle, and premium leader material maximize your chances of boating big bottom fish, while anything less will leave you headed home empty-handed.
Keep one or two 32 oz bank sinkers as well with maybe one or two stick leads as a backup. Swivel weights also come in handy as they don’t spin the line while being dropped or retrieved.
On the mid-eye of the swivel, tie one end of the fluorocarbon leader with a uni knot. Tie a hook (also with a uni not or tuna knot) to the other end of the fluorocarbon.
Lighter versions of the rig can be used for yellowtail, gray, and red snappers while heavier variations are ideal for big groupers and buttons. The advantage here is that leader can slide as the fish takes the bait, allowing for the circle hook to set more effectively.
The weight is added to the main line, followed by a small bead, before being tied to one end of the barrel swivel. This allows the main line to pass through the egg sinker, so the fish can run once hooked.
While you can purchase these pre-made, it’s simple to make them out of heavy mono leader, a few swivels, and some strategically placed crimps. There are quite a few outstanding resources on making your own deep drop rigs, one of my favorites can be found at fishingunited.com.
There is a hazard of getting spun up while dropping or retrieving in heavy current, but it’s worth the risk. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Blue fin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks.
Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur. Tried and true rigs for bottom dwelling species.
When hooked up, short pumps seem to work best to keep the fish out of the rocks. Try to keep your rod tip below eye level to maintain maximum leverage.
If a fish decides to take you in the rocks, fluorocarbon can stand up to the abuse. Although more expensive, fluorocarbon can be justified when it helps put a big fish in the ice box.
This will vary depending on targeted species, structure, depth etc. Go into free spool and wait 15 to 30 seconds, a lot of the time the fish will swim out of the hole allowing you to have another shot.
This rig is used a lot for bottom fishing with live and dead bait.
Double your leader material to the length you want, Tie an overhand knot, but run the line through the loop twice. Florida ’s central east coast offers several easily accessed fishing piers and jetties that bring anglers close to the deeper and more productive coastal waters along beaches and inlets.
Add to that the briny breezes, melodic wave action and frequent dolphin sightings, and these scenic angling venues deliver a bounty of ambient appeal with a comfortable convenience that allows you to come and go as you please and learn how to pier fish in Florida. First, incoming tides signal increasing action as roaming predators such as mackerel, king fish, tarpon, cobra, bluefish and sharks follow the bait fish schools that ride the rising water closer to these structures.
2 hooks and a 2- to 6-ounce pyramid weight at the bottom will yield a mixed bag of pompano, whiting, redfish, black drum, flounder, bluefish and trout. Available in most tackle shops, double droppers are easy to tie and customizable with various colored beads and floats to hold the baited hooks above the bottom.
Common baits for the smaller species include live shrimp, squid, sand fleas and clam strips (brined for toughness). When you’re ready for a stronger challenge, fish cut sardines, whiting or mullet, or live bait fish (pinkish, pilchards) on a fish-finder rig (available at bait shops).
Designs range from grocery baskets fitted with PVC rod holders to fully customized wheeled platforms with bait tank, cooler and gear racks.