Rigging For Grouper Fishing

Ellen Grant
• Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
• 14 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 rigs rig fishing leaders tackle items
(Source: fishingtacklefor.us)


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 rig fishing fish techniques finder
(Source: driverlayer.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.

“Sometimes it’s hard to grouper fish with Mali swimming around your boat, but our stretch of offshore reefs can give up some really quality gags and scamps this time of year, particularly on spots deeper than 120 feet,” he said. The rig consists of an egg sinker sliding on an 18-inch piece of 100-pound mono between two swivels.

A 6-foot piece of 100-pound mono leads to a circle hook, with the size depending on the bait. “If I’m fishing for gags, my favorite bait is a live golden spot or a pinkish,” said Johnson.

Johnson prefers the slip sinker rig, because fooling big grouper is all about presentation. Keep the sinker pinned against the bottom swivel and at the first sign of panic in the bait, let him swim away from the weight unencumbered.

Johnson says he’d always prefer to hook his live spots, grunts, and pinkish behind the anal fin, but cautions that you have to consider the current. Now that you have your rod, reel, braided line and leader material it's time to put it all together.

rig grouper amberjack fishing wreck fish log double swivel
(Source: www.fishmiamicharters.com)

This involves terminal tackle: swivels, snaps, weights (sinkers) and hooks, as well as spooling the reel. Over the years I have settled on three types of knots and a configuration that allows me to change weights and hooks on the fly.

The approach also allows storage of the rig parts easily and conveniently Let's see what is involved. A video of the whole process can be found at making a grouper fishing rig.

Snap swivels have an additional feature allowing them to be opened and closed. Purchase swivels that are salt water rated and have a breaking strength in the 90-125lb range.

Circle hooks are designed to lodge in the corner of the jaw as opposed to gut-hooking a fish. The non-offset circle hook complies with both federal and state regulations so get those to be safe.

It is debatable whether this is needed for most grouper fishing but the little advantage it brings won't hurt. For grouper fishing I recommend using 80-150 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders.

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

Here is a step-by-step process resulting in a full spool of braid backed by mono. Tie the end of the braid to a spool of mono (15-30 lb test) using a double uni knot Continue winding until the reel is full.

Finally, tie the end of the mono from the last step on to the reel you want to fill and wind it on. The result is a reel backed by mono and filled to the max with braid.

Finally, we will tie the snap swivel to the end of the leader, make up some interchangeable weight connections and tie some hooks to separate sections of leader. SINKER Attachments: I find it convenient to be able to switch out weights while fishing without having to retie anything.

To accomplish this, thread a sinker on to a 6" section of leader and tie a regular swivel on one end and a snap swivel on the other end using an improved clinch knot. Tie this knot so that the line is going through the hook eye in the direction of the point (the opposite of the demo link).

On the other end of the leader attach a regular swivel with an improved cinch knot. How to build three proven rigs for taking grouper, snapper and other bottom species.

grouper chicken rig snapper drop deep rigs double
(Source: www.fishmiamicharters.com)

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.

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.

rig grouper fishing 400ft think hook line put
(Source: www.thehulltruth.com)

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.

Plus, they can be incredibly difficult to land, often heading straight back to tackle breaking structure once hooked. On the latter the sliding sinker is allows moving freely all the way to the hook / terminal tackle.

The Carolina Rig includes a stop above the leader to prevent the sinker from sliding as far down the line. Saltwater angler may now this as a fish finder or live bait rig.

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

A basic Carolina Rig set up is fairly simple and often considered one of the best salt water bottom rigs as it allows a more natural presentation, especially if using live bait, and allows the fish to take the bait without detecting the weight right away. Saltwater applications require a bit longer and for Grouper this can be as long as 4 or 5’.

Although this is an option live or fresh cut bait is more effective when targeting Grouper. If rigged properly, and with a little of luck, the Grouper will take the bait and start to swim away prior to feeling resistance from the weight.

This will increase the chance that it drops the bait before the circle hook sets. Grouper like to head for cover once they have a meal, so you need to overpower them with brute force to stop & then turn them before they get there.

Are you using the 10lb braid and tying on a 20 to 30lb floor leader? I was using a 4/0 circle hook from Owner (Model # 5378-141). All Rights Reserved I understand and appreciate your logic with the Kr eh loop not being the weakest link in the grouper rig.

And great work on the nice shook catches. Do you recall what the end of the line looked like when the line broke? Yes, I do recommend the FG knot for any type of fishing with a light braid mainline being connected to a stronger mono/floor leader. 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.

grouper fishing bottom rigs gom favorite leader
(Source: www.thehulltruth.com)

If I lived on the coast or was able to fish inshore more often, I’d subscribe to your website. Thanks for making time to leave the nice comment Cary! If dead, people will butterfly them (fillet from tail end on either side and remove bones).

The grouper season in South Florida closes for four months on January 1, so time is running short to catch one of the hard-fighting, great-tasting fish. Bouncer Smith, who does “Bouncer’s Tackle Tips” every Saturday at 6:45 a.m. on The Nautical Ventures Weekly Fisherman radio show on Win 940-AM, which is live-streamed from 6-8 a.m. on the Nautical Ventures Facebook page.

“As soon as you catch a baby bonito, you hook it through the upper lip and you drop it down on the upstream side of the wreck. “We’ve already had very good black grouper fishing this fall,” Smith added.

The grouper season closure, which runs through April 30 in Atlantic waters, was implemented in 2010 to allow the populations of black, gag and red grouper to increase in number and in size, as well as protect the fish during their spawning seasons. Bouncer’s advice and you’ll be able to enjoy several delicious meals of fresh grouper for the holiday season.

How to Tie a Knocker Rig: Why It's SUPER EFFECTIVE for Catching Certain Fish That’s because many of the bottom-feeding species prefer to hide in tight cover on reefs and other submerged structures to protect themselves from predators and to ambush their prey. The Knocker Rig is great for getting your live bait near the bottom.

fishing rigs grouper bottom rig deep rock rods pros florida footers b50 reels tuck tight arm under right star
(Source: www.floridasportsman.com)

It’s a great alternative to a Dropper Rig to give the bait more freedom to swim around. This Knocker Rig uses crimps to secure the thicker leader line.

The most manageable bottom rig to set up requires a circle hook, an egg sinker, and an abrasion-resistant leader material. Knocker rigs are outfitted with sliding egg sinkers since these can drag along mud, sand, and gravel bottoms and stir up debris to attract the fish’s attention to the bait.

One place in which a lighter sinker is better if you are trying to catch a species that is suspended in or right next to high-profile debris like oil rigs or kelp gardens. In this environment, the setup will be just heavy enough to keep the fish below the surface and in the zone where the predators are.

This includes a bank sinker, especially if you are fishing around rocky bottoms. Similarly, you can also use pyramid sinkers to target bottom fish in rough surf.

These have sharp tips that keep the setup at the bottom of the sand in the water column. Line Since you will be angling for bottom-dwelling fish with a knocker rig, use a monofilament leader.

grouper fishing goliath rigs florida rigging sport station
(Source: www.youtube.com)

That’s because these are designed specifically to snag in the jaw hinge, ensuring a higher percentage of hookups. It provides a straight line pull when the hook is set, which makes it ideal for this rig setup.

To tie it first, run the tag end through the hook eye from the point and then create a small loop knot before bringing the tag end behind the hook shank. However, as a severe angler and if you are angling for large fish, use live bait for this setup.

That’s because it has a slim enough profile to get into isolated spots where fish like to hide from predators. Shore fishing around pylons, bridges, piers, and rocky banks.

Rush Malta of Odyssey Key West Sport fishing and Co-Host of the Local Knowledge fishing show is sharing his basic bottom fishing rig for grouper and snapper in his home waters as well as many of the places they travel. “It's really a simple rig, but it will catch bottom fish everywhere I go,” said Rush.

Every 20 seconds or so on the drop, I will thumb the spool and bounce the rod tip a couple of times to keep the bait closer to the sinker. I got out yesterday on the first day of snapper season, and limited very quickly, so I decided to target grouper or AJ.

grouper rigs baits fishing boat
(Source: www.thehulltruth.com)

A few weeks back it was a grouper a drop with live bait. Main line to 6 oz lead to swivel to 60 pound mono to 7/0 SSM Gamakatsu circle hook.

A few weeks back it was a grouper a drop with live bait. Main line to 6 oz lead to swivel to 60 pound mono to 7/0 SSM Gamakatsu circle hook.

Circle or octopus style hook.and I also use a uni for almost everything.25lb leader for bank sinker.size depends on depth and bait selection. Circle or octopus style hook.and I also use a uni for almost everything.25lb leader for bank sinker.size depends on depth and bait selection.

Usually a little heavier sinker and a nosed hooked bait drops fine for me.....I know the water is a little thicker over there now maybe up the ounces haha I personally like a slightly modified version of this setup because you can attach your weight to break free if it gets hung up or if a huge fish hits.

I will make a knocker rig with an Owner 3/0 Fly liner hook with a 50-60# fluorocarbon wind-on of up to 20' (can use uni-uni or bimini-albright), no swivel. Use the lightest weight that keeps you on the bottom and let it slide freely...often I use egg sinkers, but sometimes a tied-on pyramid weight (tie with 12# floor) works better, and the breakaway feature can be helpful.

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

Make sure the weight stays on the bottom, so they don't hear it clanking around. Sometimes letting the bait swim with the reel in free spool is the best way to get a hit, but you really have to pay attention to detect that bite, and a high speed reel is necessary to pick up the slack in a hurry.

When that happens, remember you are using a small hook and a fairly light leader...don't tug! Put the reel in free spool and wait for the fish calm down and swim out of its hole.

When you can't seem to start them feeding, sand balling can get the chum to the bottom. We've also tried putting the chum bag on the down rigger, but it consistently attracted sharks.

One time they refused live pinkish AND blue runners. Then a keeper gag ate a chunk of dead ballyhoo with pieces of nacho cheese Doritos stuck in it (we were getting desperate).

This is how we fish on the “E”, and we wear them out, also size the hook to a 11aut mustard, or like a 14 AUT for bigger baits like hard tails for your jacks. If not your leader and weight will spin around your main line a hundred times and will not unwind due to the braid.

deep rig grouper drop rigs snapper fishing tie line leaders hooks florida tilefish pro
(Source: www.youtube.com)

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