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October 26, 2001

Better Bottom Rig

Light-tackle rig for sheepshead, snapper and grouper.

This technique may seem strange at first, but it's very effective when fishing bottom structure for species such as grouper, snapper or sheepshead. When using light tackle (20-pound or under), double 4 feet of line with a Bimini twist or spider hitch before attaching a 2-foot leader via a double uni-knot or a black barrel swivel. Next, thread on an egg sinker and tie on a hook, allowing the sinker to slide right down to the eye of the hook. Kahle-style bait hooks and light-wire circle hooks work especially well. On heavy tackle (40-pound and over), skip the leader - just add a sinker and tie the hook directly to the main line.
Drop your bait down to the structure and resist the urge to set the hook on the first tap. Wait until you feel a steady pull, then reel quickly without sweeping the rod back. Reeling quickly removes all slack and stretch from the mono, pulling the fish away from structure before it feels the stinging hook. Setting the hook with a sharp, upward motion puts the rod out of position, making it necessary to lower the tip to take up slack. This brief respite often provides time for fish to swim into a hole or over a ledge and cut the line.
Capt. Jim Klopfer
Adventure Charters
Sarasota, Florida