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Grouper Leader

author
James Lee
• Wednesday, 30 September, 2020
• 20 min read

Are tough as heck fighters Can be found in most regions/depths Grouper provide some of the most popular fish-eating meat in America… Makes them a very popular fish to both offshore and inshore anglers (and tourists looking for a good Grouper sandwich).

grouper warsaw leader outfitters bottom
(Source: checknbottom.com)

Contents

Max limit for 2 from 17 ft skiff using the leader rig shown below. But a problem with grouper fishing (and targeting other species when bottom fishing) is that many anglers don’t put much thought into making their leaders… They simply get a weight, a hook, some line, and perhaps a swivel or two and start tying their favorite knot for all the connections.

And a majority of the time, that lack of thinking about all aspects of what they’re targeting leaves the following two problems: The weakest point in the overall system (most often at the knot that connects the lighter main line to the top of the heavier leader assembly) is up above the weight.

And since grouper are structure oriented, the odds of them getting stuck to the bottom due to the weight getting snagged are high which will make them easy targets to the next shark that cruises by. Knowing that grouper and most other bottom fish seek comfort in structure when the feel threatened, we need to account for the fact that there will be break-offs in our decision for how we make our leader assemblies.

When targeting strong fish that live in and around heavy cover, the likelihood of getting snagged on the bottom is high. So my preference is to set up the overall line system to have the weakest point be the knot that goes directly to the hook while also beefing up the line most exposed to getting weakened from bumping rough patches on the bottom (directly above the weight).

The Orris knot is my preferred choice to tie to the Perfection loop because it’s extremely fast to tie and is very strong (not quite as strong as the Palomar, but it’s stronger than any Loop knot I’ve tested so it’ll not be the weakest link). Note: Different line brands/types of course have different breaking points, so these values are just to serve as a rough estimate.

grouper leader circle hook rigs fishing rig leaders ready mono
(Source: www.leefisherfishing.com)

Grouper fishing is a fantastic way for a group of friends or a family to get out on the water and enjoy nature together… And given their popularity, we need to pay extra attention to take the best possible care of them so our future generations can continue to enjoy this great game fish as well as other structure oriented species that also be harmed by poorly designed leader rigs.

The 3oz Slayer Grouper Rig comes with a 10/0 Mustard circle hook and a 3oz lead weight. The 4oz Slayer Grouper Rig comes with a 12/0 Mustard circle hook and a 4oz lead weight.

The 6oz Slayer Grouper Rig comes with a 12/0 Mustard circle hook and a 6oz lead weight. The 8oz Slayer Grouper Rig comes with a 12/0 Mustard circle hook and a 8oz lead weight.

135 pound test premium mono-filament line- far superior to fishing cable Premium double crimped stainless steel sleeves, spaced apart to allow for slippage without losing fish High Quality forged Mustard circle hook High Quality 150 pound test swivel Bounce Beads on each side of weight to prevent damage to line Glow bead near hook to attract the Grouper ’s attention to your bait 36 long to protect your main line from even the largest Groupers Handmade in the USA by American Veterans For this to work though, you would need great flexibility as well so that the line would not break at the point of connection or contact.

We also select the types of line that refract the least amount of light, allowing your leader to nearly disappear in the water. Slayer leaders are designed to be long enough to protect your mainline from being cut by your targeted fish.

grouper rig rigs leaders fishing tackle
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)

The 2oz Slayer Grouper Rig comes with a 10/0 Mustard circle hook and a 2oz lead weight. The 3oz Slayer Grouper Rig comes with a 10/0 Mustard circle hook and a 3oz lead weight.

There are quite a few other species of grouper that are found in deeper waters and throughout the Bahamas and other locations. For the most part, their habits are very similar and will be treated all the same when it comes to tackle and techniques.

The one thing that all groupers have in common is that they are bottom dwelling, structure oriented fish. Seldom will one be found high up in the water column or on sandy bottom with no structure.

Reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, areas of rocky bottom, and ledges are the top spots where anglers catch grouper in open water. Penn is THE name in saltwater tackle and makes some excellent equipment at reasonable prices.

This can handle most the bottom fishing situations as well as some light tackle trolling. Anglers using conventional tackle for grouper fishing can choose a reel with a level wind or one without.

grouper rigs leaders rig pound
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)

Level winds are nice in that the line is spooled up evenly as it is retrieved. Many old school grouper fishing reels such as the venerable Penn 4/0 do not have a level wind.

Goliath grouper grow hundreds of pounds and requires special tackle. Anglers fishing in hundreds of feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean with heavy lead will need a stouter outfit than those fishing in 40 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anglers fishing in shallow, clear water sometimes find that lighter spinning tackle makes a more natural presentation. Some anglers simply prefer the comfort and feel of a spinning outfit.

This mostly occurs in the shallow waters of the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa. Therefore, anglers anchor or drift a decent distance from the spot and cast live baits or lures in towards the structure.

A 7-8 foot heavy action rod with a 6000 series real is a good all-around combination. With this outfit, anglers can cast lures and live baits towards structure as well as have a decent chance of landing a big fish that might be hooked when bottom fishing.

grouper rig leader redi
(Source: joyfish.co)

In water much deeper than 50 feet, conventional outfits are simply a better choice. While the initial cost is higher, braided line last much longer than monofilament.

Braided line is also thinner in diameter, which allows it to sink faster when fishing in deep water. Many use a strong black swivel to connect the leader to the main line.

A sliding sinker is often placed on the main line and then the swivel stops it from going any further. Leader length and strength varies greatly, depending on the fishing situation.

Many anglers fishing in deep water use a very long leader, up to 20 feet and even longer. Anglers grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico are required to use circle hooks.

The hook may look huge, but the important part is the distance between the tip and the shank. Standard short shank live bait hooks are also popular for grouper fishing as well.

grouper rig rigs leader leaders fishing
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)

In very deep water, just reeling and coming tight as is done with circle hooks works the best anyway. The weight is generally placed on the running line ahead of the swivel that attaches the leader.

However, there is another rig that works very well for grouper fishing, particularly in water shallower than 100 feet. With this rig, the sinker slides on the leader and rest right on the eye of the hook.

Also, when snagged up, the sinker jerking up on the line then banging the eye of the hook will often free it. With this rig, multiple hooks are tied off of dropper loops on the main line.

The bank sinker works well as it tends to walk and bounce off of rocks and other snags. While most grouper are caught on live or natural bait, there are a few situations when they can be taken on artificial lures as well.

Trolling with deep diving plugs is an incredibly effective technique when grouper are in fairly shallow water. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water over a large piece of structure in search of fish.

grouper rigs rig fishing leaders tackle items
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)

Trolling is effective anywhere that there is submerged structure in the 50 feet deep or shallower range. The shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, channel edges and large bays such as Tampa Bay, and coral reefs of the Caribbean are prime spots to troll for grouper.

They are categorized by size, giving anglers a good idea of how deep they will go. Papal and several other lure manufacturers also make quality deep diving plugs for grouper fishing.

With the boat idling along at 4 to 5 knots, the plug will dig down to the maximum depth, putting out a lot of flash and vibration. A down rigger is a device with a cable and a heavy ball which takes the lure down deep.

This technique is used extensively in the Great Lakes region for walleye and salmon. Grouper can also be caught by anglers casting artificial lures, though there are limited situations where this can occur.

Basically, when grouper are holding over structure in fairly shallow water, usually 10 feet deep or shallower, casting lures over the structure and retrieving them back in can produce jarring strikes from grouper. Plugs will dive to a determined depth, while jigs can be worked through the entire water column but are extremely effective when bounced on the bottom right on top of the structure.

grouper rigs rig leaders
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)

White buck tail jigs are often used and can be tipped with a strip of squid or cut fish. There are basically four types of grouper that are found in good numbers in the United States.

Gag grouper are very aggressive and are the species most often targeted by anglers fishing with artificial lures. Black grouper are normally found in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean and down around the Florida Keys.

Surprisingly, they are often encountered in the inshore waters, as shallow as five or 6 feet deep. Many a large Goliath grouper has surprised an angler casting to the mangroves for shook or redfish.

Whether red, gag, black, yellow fin, or Warsaw, a good grouper in the ice chest means a successful day for lots of folks. Some species of grouper range from New England to southern Brazil and Texas.

They prefer to be able to seek shelter and hide, and although their name implies that they stay together, they can also be very solitary fish. Their coloration and ability to change hues and shades to identify with their surroundings give them that ambush capability.

grouper rig rigs leaders pound test line
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)

Anglers find that medium heavy bottom fishing tackle is the best way to approach the grouper. Conventional reels in the thirty- to fifty-pound class teamed with a medium heavy boat rod will do the trick.

Grouper feed on other small fish, crustaceans like crabs or crawfish, and squid. When an easy opportunity swims buy they rush out, inhale their prey, and quickly return to their lair.

A good rod and reel, with fifty-pound test monofilament line, can handle almost all the grouper you may encounter. The terminal tackle consists of a sinker, leader, and hook arranged one of two ways.

Even when the rig is dropped right into the bottom structure, it seldom hangs up, something charter captains love. More serious grouper anglers will opt for the second approach, called a live bait rig.

Advertised as virtually invisible to fish, it does seem to draw more strikes than regular monofilament. Grouper run out, grab a bait, and head back for cover.

grouper leader warsaw leaders drop deep
(Source: checknbottom.com)

Serious grouper anglers will crank the drag down on their reel as hard as they can, often using a pair of pliers to lock it down. The idea is to stop the grouper from taking the line and returning to his structure home.

When a grouper strikes, anglers will lay their rod on the rail and start winding as hard as they can. When a grouper makes it into a rock or reef, many anglers will simply break off the line and try again.

In the Gulf of Mexico, grouper anglers use magnum diving plugs that will go as deep as thirty feet or more. Strip baits are cut and attached to a double hooked trolling feather.

The wire line method is popular in and around south Florida in the winter when big black grouper move into the shallower reefs. Sometimes thirty yards in diameter, they are an ideal habitat for black grouper.

When one occurs, the boat moves directly away from the reef to drag the fish away from its hole. A head boat that provides the bait and tackle is an ideal way to bring some home to eat.

grouper rig goliath ultimate leader heavy duty circle florida hook
(Source: forums.floridasportsman.com)

I try to up my odds of landing grouper by building leaders that can withstand the line-gnawing reefs. My grouper rig is simple; it consists of a 6 to an 8-foot-long leader of 300-pound-test monofilament with a 9/0 to 11/0 circle hook.

All swivels and the hooks are attached to the line using 1.9 mm crimp sleeves. Slide your weight onto the line, and then attach the opposite end to the swivel on the long leader.

A fighting rod of 5’8” or longer, rated for line up to 200-pound test will do in most cases. My reel of choice is the Shaman Thorium 30HG spooled with 65-pound-test braided line.

The 6.2:1 gear ratio makes it fast and powerful enough to move big grouper in a hurry. The goal is to keep them out of the reef, but if they do get back to their hole, you’re prepared with a leader that can survive the fight.

When I hooked the gag grouper in this picture, he immediately ran back into his hole in the reef. Randy Not is the co-publisher of Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine’s Panama City/Forgotten Coast edition.

grouper fishing rig leader rigs knots weight strongest money assembly fish bad slide bottom saving does known knot knowing threatened
(Source: www.saltstrong.com)

We were just off of Elliot Key in South Florida trolling, actually wire lining for black and red grouper. Each year in late winter and early spring they come up on the patch reefs to spawn, and some rather large ones can be caught with trolling feathers close to the bottom.

We will argue the merits and catch rates of these terminal tackle rigs at a later time; for this discussion, I want to talk about leaders in general. On my rod, the leader is there to prevent a fish from chewing or cutting the line with their mouth.

If he hangs up, his store bought pre-made leader is lost along with a hook or jig head. Fishing in and around rocks with this type of leader gets expensive for Brett.

He was simply in too much of a hurry to re-tie his initial leader and consequently lost numerous fish to a broken line. Lots of anglers use a very heavy leader for larger fish.

The heavy leader helps prevent cutoffs from fish and structure. If they hang on the bottom, the leader should break before the line, thus saving their sinker.

grouper redi leader rig
(Source: b2b.leefisherintl.com)

They are difficult and time-consuming to build, even with some magic wire wrapping tools. That one kink puts a weak spot in the leader that will surely break on the next fish.

With king mackerel, bluefish, and other sharp-toothed fish, a wire leader is almost a necessity. I use those days when the weather is bad to my advantage and tie up a number of wire leaders.

I keep them in small plastic zipper lock bags, and they last indefinitely if they are kept dry. A good leader, one appropriate for the fish being sought, can mean the difference between a full ice chest and an empty one.

The rule of thumb I go by is to use a leader roughly two and a half times your line strength. And when you do go, these 7 tips will help you know where to go, what gear to bring, and the know-how to catch big grouper.

Grouper are found in abundance in the Gulf of Mexico, along the Atlantic Coast, and throughout the Caribbean, providing anglers with a wealth of opportunities to catch one of the tastiest fish in the sea. In the summer, as nearshore water temperatures rise, grouper relocate to deeper dwellings offshore.

grouper stainless steel leader joy fish fisher lee sports
(Source: justforfishing.com)

Shipwrecks, oil rigs, and offshore reefs are where you'll want to focus your efforts when fishing for grouper in the summer. They are classic ambush predators, spending most of their time holed up in heavy structure waiting for smaller fish to swim by.

To have the most success when fishing for grouper, your boat electronics need to be powerful enough to key into the structure you seek. Shipwrecks are the most notorious grouper hideouts, and fishing these tangled-up messes of debris requires accurate depth readings, patience, and the understanding that you'll probably lose some tackle.

To catch big, heavy, powerful fish, your gear better be up to the task. There are times when artificial lures work great for catching grouper, but you'll have more success if you show up prepared with the freshest live bait you can find.

Goggle-eyes, pilchards, blue runners, and grunts all make excellent live bait for grouper. Try to bring as many varieties of bait as you can so you can zero in on what the grouper are biting that day.

Grouper spend most of their time on the bottom, so that's where you'll want to send your baited hook. Vertical jigging with live bait is a very popular technique for catching big grouper, simply because it works.

grouper macedonia commerce angelovska nina leader market
(Source: www.itlogs.com)

To bridle a live bait for grouper, you'll need the following items that are relatively easy to come by. Slide the hook point underneath the twisted rubber band.

No matter what kind of rig you're using to catch grouper, you'll have the most success with circle hooks. How you handle the first few seconds of a grouper fight often determines whether you land the fish or get cut off by structure.

When a grouper takes your bait, as soon as it feels the pressure of your line, it will run straight back to the safety of structure as fast as possible. And if you hook into a huge fish, it'll do whatever it pleases unless you take charge of the fight.

Load up your conventional reels with heavy line, bridle rig your live baits, and don't forget to use circle hooks. Viktor Reuben of LandSharkFishing a Bull buster Ambassador with a Grouper.

We wrote this article for those who are interested in targeting grouper and want to know what fishing line they need. If you are fishing reef, the lighter end of that range should work, if you are fishing near wrecks, we recommend going to the heavier end of that spectrum.

grouper drifting
(Source: ultimatekayakfishing.blogspot.com)

It is our mission to help millions of anglers spend more time fishing and that starts with YOU! How to build three proven rigs for taking grouper, snapper and other bottom species.

Consistent success demands precise anchoring or drifting tactics, specialized rigs, a strong back and plenty of elbow grease, not to mention a little of luck. Should all of these elements fall into place, you'll find yourself muscling big fish out of the depths and into your cooler.

As simple as they might appear, bottom rigs have a major influence on success, or lack thereof. For many fishermen, the main selling point of fluorocarbon is that the material is simply less visible than traditional nylon monofilament.

Therefore, in murky water, where leader visibility isn't a concern, fluorocarbon still offers an advantage that justifies its expense. For groupers and amber jack, I'll use a large, double-strength, short-shank hook in a size ranging from 8/0 to 11/0, one with a relatively wide gap if I'm dropping big live baits.

Although there are numerous variations when it comes to bottom rigs, outlined on the following pages are three highly effective versions that will fool more big snappers, groupers, amber jack and cobra around reefs, wrecks and other structure. This is a good rig to use with weights heavier than 16 ounces and for fishing over heavy structure.

wind leader aj grouper bottom check leaders
(Source: checknbottom.com)

The weight, usually a bank sinker, is connected to the third eye of the swivel via several inches of lighter line. This rig boasts many of the same advantages as the in-line version when using a long leader, plus the heavy sinker won't chafe the fishing line.

Furthermore, should the rig snag on the bottom, it can usually be freed by locking down the drag and winding tight until the lighter line holding the sinker parts. However, the short leader provides hardly any slack for a fish to dive back into the structure before or at the moment the hook is set.

Then I tie on six feet of 40- or 50-pound fluorocarbon and a 5/0 to 8/0 circle hook, based on the bait I'm using and size of the fish. It's also productive when fishing the bottom well up current of a wreck or reef. The long leader allows a live bait to swim relatively unrestricted, or a dead one to float more naturally in the current.

As the in-line egg sinker rests on bottom, the bait flutters enticingly above it some 15 to 25 feet back. Should a suspicious fish peck at the bait, the play in the long leader usually prevents it from detecting any resistance.

Successful grouper anglers tailor their rigs and baits to the conditions, and around the Florida coastline, that means widely differing depths, bottom type and currents. As a result, you see an array of rigging systems on the more productive boats.

grouper rigs leaders promos printing
(Source: slayerfishing.com)

We all pretty much use an egg sinker with molded-in swivels, a 4-foot leader, and now a circle hook. Nothing fancy, but the regulations are you must use circle hooks for bottom fishing in the Gulf.

The circle hook regulation is so new, were still trying out different styles and sizes. Most of the time I use lady fish, a chunk cut like a slice from a loaf of bread.

Scott Goodwin, ANVAR, 40-foot Guthrie express, Port Canaveral Our reels are 6/0 Views, with Star B50 rods–8-footers you tuck up tight under your right arm.

Our typical bottom is anywhere from 18 miles out to 30, local wrecks and several rock ledges. We fish a Penn 50VS (variable speed) with 80- or 130-pound Mo moi Diamond braid on a Capt.

We use about 15 inches of double line produced by tying a Bimini Twist. The second leg of the swivel is used for about 3 feet of 60-pound mono ending in a large perfection loop.

grouper macedonia commerce leader market fact any company fun
(Source: www.itlogs.com)

This loop will be used to secure whatever sinker is needed to hold bottom nearly straight down in the existing current, usually 1 to 3 pounds. The last leg of the swivel hosts a monofilament leader 20 to 40 feet long.

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Sources
1 marinesanctuary.org - https://marinesanctuary.org/blog/goliath-grouper-habitat-diet-and-reproduction/
2 www.georgiaaquarium.org - https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/animal/goliath-grouper/
3 mnzoo.org - https://mnzoo.org/blog/animals/goliath-grouper/
4 www.petmetwice.com - https://www.petmetwice.com/groupers/
5 www.safariltd.com - https://www.safariltd.com/safaripedia/goliath-grouper
6 marine-conservation.org - https://marine-conservation.org/on-the-tide/atlantic-goliath-grouper/
7 www.fishbase.se - https://www.fishbase.se/Country/CountrySpeciesSummary.php
8 safmc.net - https://safmc.net/regulations/regulations-by-species/goliath-grouper/