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Bottom Fishing - freespool or tight line?

Old 06-03-2019, 03:22 PM
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Default Bottom Fishing - freespool or tight line?

I was just reading through a bunch of bottom rig type threads because I got my butt handed to me on the reef this weekend. Basically trying to figure out when to use a knocker rig vs fishfinder rig vs hi low rig. Usually I have one of each out but we haven't been doing much with the hi low so I'm thinking about maybe using that in deeper water or for drifting.

Anyway, when at anchor fishing a knocker or fishfinder, do you leave it in freespool and let a fish run off with the bait or just throw a rod in a rod holder and let it hook itself?
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Old 06-03-2019, 03:30 PM
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I prefer a Carolina type rig. If at anchor let sinker sit on bottom so as not to spook the better fish. If you let fish run it will get you in rock every time.

Last edited by raystein; 06-04-2019 at 05:05 AM.
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Old 06-03-2019, 03:41 PM
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Small baits or big baits? J hooks or circles? What rig? Any rig with a fixed sinker I usually fish circle hooks on a tight drag and smaller baits for inshore fishing. Big circles and big baits when deep drolping. If fishing a rig with a sliding sinker I will often fish with larger baits and let the fish run a bit on no drag before striking. Live baits always let the fish run a little. Over reef structure I usually fish a hilo type rig to avoid getting stuck so often.
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Old 06-03-2019, 07:07 PM
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What is the target specie. For muttons, I put the lead on a fish finder/carolina rig on teh bottom and leave it there with the reel in freespool. Yoou will feel the tap tap tap of little fish and then a runoff of a mutton. Sometimes it's a short runoff, 3-4 feet, and they will drop it, then come back, pick it up and runoff again. Then I put the reel in gear and crank like the dickens. For ARS, I let the lead hit the bottom and then slowly - slowly crank up until I get a bite, bigger snapper are on the top of the school
For grouper, I keep the weight a crank off the bottom and the reel in gear. When I feel the thump, I crank
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Old 06-03-2019, 08:41 PM
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Lock the damn drag and save yourself a whole bunch more heartache.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
Small baits or big baits? J hooks or circles? What rig? Any rig with a fixed sinker I usually fish circle hooks on a tight drag and smaller baits for inshore fishing. Big circles and big baits when deep drolping. If fishing a rig with a sliding sinker I will often fish with larger baits and let the fish run a bit on no drag before striking. Live baits always let the fish run a little. Over reef structure I usually fish a hilo type rig to avoid getting stuck so often.
We use circle hooks pretty much exclusively and so far have used small baits mostly but have used bigger baits. Anything from a chunk that is maybe 1 1/2-2 inches square to a chunk that is maybe 4" long.

The other day we were at 60' anchored but I'd say anywhere from there to the shallow reefs in 20' at anchor. We don't really bottom fish too deep at this point but in 90-150' we would be drifting. Maybe we just aren't using big enough baits and hooks. The other day we had few incidents of thinking we had a monster on only to find out later we had a small fish that a monster had a hold of.

And I would love to catch a mutton but I'm really not typically looking for a specific species. Snapper, grouper, whatever. Just trying to lose fewer fish. It really just could be the crew needs more learning and practice. I don't typically catch anything as I'd rather let them. It sounds like for them it might be best to leave the reel in gear and have them crank hard when it pulls.



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Old 06-04-2019, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Darylb23 View Post
We use circle hooks pretty much exclusively and so far have used small baits mostly but have used bigger baits. Anything from a chunk that is maybe 1 1/2-2 inches square to a chunk that is maybe 4" long.

The other day we were at 60' anchored but I'd say anywhere from there to the shallow reefs in 20' at anchor. We don't really bottom fish too deep at this point but in 90-150' we would be drifting. Maybe we just aren't using big enough baits and hooks. The other day we had few incidents of thinking we had a monster on only to find out later we had a small fish that a monster had a hold of.

And I would love to catch a mutton but I'm really not typically looking for a specific species. Snapper, grouper, whatever. Just trying to lose fewer fish. It really just could be the crew needs more learning and practice. I don't typically catch anything as I'd rather let them. It sounds like for them it might be best to leave the reel in gear and have them crank hard when it pulls.
I sometimes do charters and teach a lot of people to fish with circle hooks. A few notes help a lot. First is only put the hook through the bait once so a lot of the hook is exposed. Hookd do not need to be very big though. Second is do not strike at nibbles. Wait until the rod bends solidly before lifting and winding. Otherwise keep the rod still. Third is making sure you get to the bottom, but not keep letting out excess line if there is any current. If you are on current and losing bait without feeling the bites you are probably letting too much line out. With hilo rigs just go heavy on the weights so it is easy to know when you hit bottom. If there is no current you can use lighter weights.
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Old 06-04-2019, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Darylb23 View Post

Anyway, when at anchor fishing a knocker or fishfinder, do you leave it in freespool and let a fish run off with the bait or just throw a rod in a rod holder and let it hook itself?
Am I correct in understanding that you are letting the lines down and not holding them while bottom fishing? If so that's a losing proposition. It's not catfishing, the angler needs to have rod in hand while you're bottom fishing the reef so when you set the hook you can pull the fish away from the structure, otherwise you're never going to catch anything halfway decent. By the time you get to the rod letting a fish run or just setting it in a rod holder mr. grouper is gonna be back in his hole
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
I sometimes do charters and teach a lot of people to fish with circle hooks. A few notes help a lot. First is only put the hook through the bait once so a lot of the hook is exposed. Hookd do not need to be very big though. Second is do not strike at nibbles. Wait until the rod bends solidly before lifting and winding. Otherwise keep the rod still. Third is making sure you get to the bottom, but not keep letting out excess line if there is any current. If you are on current and losing bait without feeling the bites you are probably letting too much line out. With hilo rigs just go heavy on the weights so it is easy to know when you hit bottom. If there is no current you can use lighter weights.
Makes perfect sense. I think part of our problem the other day is the current was ripping and we were having a hard time getting to the bottom. I changed the weights a couple times and still struggled. Going to have to have a crew meeting next trip. Thanks.
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Old 06-05-2019, 05:24 PM
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Aren't circle hooks required by law? Lock down the drag for sure
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Old 06-05-2019, 05:32 PM
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If you have a livie on your hook, you want to let that fish take quite a bit ion line before you throw it in gear. They seem to get only half the livie, and by letting him take out quite a bit of line, it gives him a chance to swallow the livie down his mouth and then when you put it in gear...Bam! reel like there's no tomorrow.
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Darylb23 View Post
I was just reading through a bunch of bottom rig type threads because I got my butt handed to me on the reef this weekend. Basically trying to figure out when to use a knocker rig vs fishfinder rig vs hi low rig. Usually I have one of each out but we haven't been doing much with the hi low so I'm thinking about maybe using that in deeper water or for drifting.

Anyway, when at anchor fishing a knocker or fishfinder, do you leave it in freespool and let a fish run off with the bait or just throw a rod in a rod holder and let it hook itself?
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Old 06-08-2019, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Darylb23 View Post
I was just reading through a bunch of bottom rig type threads because I got my butt handed to me on the reef this weekend. Basically trying to figure out when to use a knocker rig vs fishfinder rig vs hi low rig. Usually I have one of each out but we haven't been doing much with the hi low so I'm thinking about maybe using that in deeper water or for drifting.

Anyway, when at anchor fishing a knocker or fishfinder, do you leave it in freespool and let a fish run off with the bait or just throw a rod in a rod holder and let it hook itself?
Inshore you'll catch more Reds, Trout, if you free spool. Never free spool offshore.
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