Rigging Corner


Fishfinder Rig for Mutton Snapper

Published October 22nd, 2018

Fishfinder Rig

One of the most widely used bottom fishing rigs is the versatile fish finder rig.  It can be adapted for both inshore and offshore fishing and for a variety of different species.  It’s an easy rig to tie, making it a favorite for anglers.  The rig consists of a weight attached to the main line followed by a swivel.  An egg sinker placed on the mainline allows fish to pull line without pulling the weight of the lead.  This allows game fish a swim off with the bait and swallow it before the angler sets the hook.  There are sinker sliders available on the market, and they allow you to attach different sinker types through the use of a snap.Sinker sliders are ideal for surf fishing, when a pyramid type sinker is preferred over an egg sinker.  They also provide a convenient attachment point for quick lead changes.  

Leader selection:

When fishing from a boat for snapper or grouper, it’s best to use 30 feet or more for a leader.  For weary mutton snapper and grouper try using 40 lb fluorocarbon leaders.  When we are fishing in shallow, clear water, longer fluorocarbon leaders have produced the best results.  A good tip to note is that you can get away with shorter leaders in areas with more current.Another situation where a shorter leader is preferred is when you’re fishing near structure, or if you have to cast the rig.  

Lead selection:

The amount of lead needed depends on a variety of fishing situations.  For instance, fishing from an anchored boat in light current is the easiest scenario.  It a depth of 50 feet, it may only take a few ounces to hold bottom.  On the other hand, fishing in 150 feet from a drifting boat in 3 knots of current would require significantly more weight.  In any case, the fish finder rig is still a great choice. 

Freespool is your Friend:

The biggest benefit of the fish finder rig is that the lead slides freely on the main line.  Why is this a major benefit?It allows you to feed line to a live bait so it can swim further from the lead, or allow cut bait to drift naturally.  Furthermore, when a fish grabs the bait, it can swim away without feeling the pressure of a heavy lead.  I like to bottom fish with a conventional reel, keeping the reel in free spool with the clicker on.  While drift fishing, you can continue to feed line once the lead has hit the bottom to prevent your sinker from bouncing along the bottom and potentially spooking nearby fish.   

Variations and applications:

For some applications, a 30 foot or longer leader isn’t feasible.  When we’re casting baits on spinning outfits to sight fish cobia or snook, I’ll scale down to a 3-4 foot leader with heavier leader material.  You can try hooking a live bait in the tail or under the anal fin to encourage it to swim away from the weight, effectively lengthening your leader.  Another trick is to replace the swivel on the rig with a split shot.  This can allow you to remove the split shot so your larger lead slides down to the hook.  Some anglers have difficulty managing a long leader.  It can be cumbersome to hand line in the fish once you get to the swivel, especially if you’re fishing alone.  By replacing the swivel with a split shot, you can remove the split shot and essentially reel the fish right up to the rod tip.  Miami Red SnapperMiami Mutton Snapper

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