Bottom Fishing: A Complete How-To Guide

Saltwater anglers are well aware that most of the most valuable species hunt at the bottom, particularly in shallower waters. Even offshore, in waters such as the Gulf of Mexico where the sun is strong enough to keep the food chain going, there are plenty of sharks and big grouper near the bottom.

While bottom fishing is not difficult, it’s important to be familiar with the basics of what to do and how to use it.

These are your questions.

Continue reading!

Bottom fishing: What are the basics?

Bottom fishing is exactly as it sounds: A collection of techniques and gear that allow anglers to fish near or on the bottom for prey species.

Because many species search the bottom for prey, it’s very popular in salt.

Red snapper is one of the many species that actively hunts the bottom.

Bottom fishing can be used to catch a wide range of species, from ambush predators such as grouper and flounder to active hunters like sharks, red snapper, and bluefish.

To ambush prey at the bottom, grouper employ incredible camouflage.

Bottom fishing has one great advantage: the actual fishing techniques can be done quickly and easily. This makes it ideal for beginners and young fishermen. Bottom fishing has another great aspect: light and heavy tackle can be used side-by-side. The catch on lighter lines can then be used as bait for the heavier ones.

This creates exciting possibilities, surprises, and lots of fun. We’ll discuss that more below.

Fishing rods, reels, and line for bottom fishing

We have written extensively on saltwater reels and rods before. It’s worth looking at these articles.

The Best Saltwater Fishing Rods for 2020

The Best Saltwater Fishing Reels: Inshore & Offshore 2020 Buying Guide

Reviewed: The Best Conventional Reels – Big Reels For Big Water

There are many options for techniques and places to fish. This is the good news. Unfortunately, there is no single solution.

Surf-Casting: Best Reels and Rods

Anglers can enjoy unique challenges and opportunities when they surf cast.

Standard rods are not suitable for fishing from the beach. You need to launch your rig past breakers and into the trough. You need specialized tackle, which is very long rods that allow you to get the most out of techniques such as the snap cast.

The Okuma Cedros CSX Surf is a great example of a surfing rod and one of my favorites. There are many options for power and actions. I recommend the 10’6″ medium-power rod, rated for line weights between 20- and 50 pounds.

It is made from top-quality materials and won’t cost a fortune. It will launch bottom rigs such as a catapult and help you detect light strikes. This will increase your chances of winning hard fights.

You can make a great surfcasting setup by pairing it with a reel like the Penn Battle II or Daiwa BG.

Best Reels and Rods for Pier Fishing

Pier fishing is a popular activity along the coast. It allows for easy and inexpensive access to deep waters without needing a boat or special surfcasting rods.

Instead, there will be typical inshore spinning gear used by anglers whether they are chasing specks or pompano, blues, or flounder.

Anglers may target larger species such as sharks and grouper from piers. In these cases, you might see offshore rods that are short and strong.

For pier fishing, rods such as the Hurricane Calico Jack and the Hurricane Calico Jack can be excellent. Medium-light to medium power rods are the best options for most anglers.

St. Croix’s Mojo Inshore line-up is another great option, offering a wide range of power from extra-heavy to light. These extremes won’t be desired by most, so medium-light to moderate-power rods will work well from a pier.

These choices would be a great match for the Daiwa BG and Penn Battle II, and I wouldn’t look back.

The Best Offshore Fishing Rods and Reels

Offshore anglers fishing the bottom typically fish humps, submerged islands, or other “shallow water” rather than the ocean’s depths.

Fish need food, so they will hunt for prey. These are the only places they will find food.

When you think of species like sharks and grouper, strong, short rods are the norm.

Penn International VI is a trusted and respected brand. You can choose from a variety of lengths, powers, and actions. When monsters are on the rise, you will need a rod that is unique to defeat them.

A rod and reel combination like the Penn Fathom Lever Drag would be a match made in heaven!

You can choose to Fathom for smaller species, such as red snapper.

The Best Inshore Fishing Rods and Reels

Inshore anglers fish in shallow waters where species such as flounder are common. But you will also see specks and pompano sharks, along with other species. This wide range of options means that all-around rods/reels are the best, so I usually look for medium-light to moderate-power rods, unless I’m specifically targeting sharks.

These rods should be medium-heavy or heavy-power.

You can find our complete guide to inshore spinning reels and inshore rods in this article

To buck the wind, I prefer to use spinning tackle. However, I do enjoy fishing with those who prefer casting tackle. Both work well and each has its advantages and disadvantages, which we have discussed before.

As I have already mentioned, the Hurricane Calico Jack line-up and St. Croix’s Mojo Inshore lineup are excellent inshore options. The Penn Battalion Inshore, as well as the budget-friendly Ugly Stik Elite, are also excellent inshore options.

Light-medium covers most of the bases, while power and action can be matched to the fish you are targeting.

Medium-heavy to very heavy is better if you want to target sharks.

As I have done before, I recommend the Daiwa BG and Penn Battle II to spin tackle fans.

St. Croix’s Avid series is the best for anglers who prefer to cast tackle. They are available in a variety of power levels, from light to heavy, and can be used to catch specks close to rocks, reds in salt marshes, or flounder in sandy bays.

You can also get the Ugly Stik Elite in a casting configuration. Don’t let its price fool you. Although it is not as good as the St. Croix rod, I have come to enjoy this rod. It is as tough as they come, has a lot of backbone, and has a sensitive tip.

It’s a great deal for the price.

Daiwa’s Tatula CT Type R is my favorite for inshore fishing. It’s fast and powerful enough to catch redfish and blues.

These rods are great for shark lovers. You can equip them with the Penn Fathom Lever Drag and get them in medium-heavy or heavy power.

Best line for bottom fishing

We have previously debunked line myths. If you are looking to get to the truth and cut through the marketing hype, this article is for you:

Best Fishing Line – Monofilament or Fluorocarbon? vs. Braid?

Bottom fishing requires that you make trade-offs when choosing a line.

Braided superlines are the best for hook-setting when there is a lot of lines, but they don’t offer the best knot integrity, shock strength, or abrasion resistance. However, they do have their place. If you use heavy braid, mono, or wire leaders, these issues can be overcome.

A super-heavy braid is the best mainline for deep fishing. You’ll be able to keep more pressure on your hook and catch more large fish if you have minimal stretch.

Many anglers find braided lines essential. They can reach for Power Pro’s legendary strength in tests of 100 and 150 pounds. You have a formidable combination that is tough and ready to fight, when combined with a shock leader made of heavy mono (125+ pounds),

Monofilament is the preferred choice for anglers fishing in shallower waters. The reasons for this are obvious. Monofilament offers exceptional shock strength, knot integrity, and abrasion resistance. It’s also available in clear and a wide range of colors making it an excellent choice for line-shy fish. It’s also ideal for fishing near debris such as rocks, pilings coral, or wrecks due to its abrasion resistance.

More on mono fishing line

It’s unbeatable against sharks when used with a leader made of very heavy mono wire or heavy mono.

Trilene Big Game is my favorite line for bottom fishing. This line is easy to tie and comes in test strengths from 8 to 130 pounds.

Gear-Up for Bottom Fishing: Everything you Need

Irwin Vise-Grip Long Nose Pliers

A serious wire-working tool is essential if you plan to work with wire leaders, crimping, and cutting your rig. While fishing pliers can do the job, they are not made to handle heavy wire leader material.

You’ll be glad that you went for the real deal.

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Long Nose Pliers, 6-Inch (2078216)

Rio Powerflex Wire Bite Tippet 40Lb

Nothing beats strong nylon-coated tileable metal for toothy fish like the blues.

Rio’s Powerflex is amazing for creating almost indestructible leaders. This is why I reach for it when I fish for species with sharp teeth

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Long Nose Pliers, 6-Inch (2078216)

Malin Wire Leader

Ultra-tough wire leader is recommended for larger, more muscular fish such as sharks. Malin is a trusted name, and its leader material can withstand any shark attack.

Although it is tempting to choose a pre-tied leader with clip and swivel, many brands fail to deliver the performance promised.

Tie your own leaders made of superior material to ensure that the shark, wahoo, or king mackerel you tie in will be on the beach.

American Fishing Wire Single Barrel Crimp Sleeves are recommended. Choose the right size for the wire. I prefer sleeves that have an interior diameter slightly larger than my line diameter.

If you have #15 wire diameter of.036″, then choose a sleeve that is close to (but larger than).072. In such cases, I would choose the larger size:.082.

Malin Wire Leader| King Mackerel Wahoo Shark Rigging (#10 (131lb) 163' roll)

Gamakatsu Circle Hooks

A circle hook is the best choice for surfcasting where long linens will result in weak hooksets. They are self-setting and can be rigged correctly.

Gamakatsu hooks can be strong, sharp, and extremely reliable. They are available in sizes ranging from 8 to 8/0. You can find the perfect size for whatever you need in the surf.

Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hooks Offset-Point (25-Pack), Black, Size 2

Eagle Claw 8 mm beads

Bottom fishing rigs have a lot of components, including beads. They can be placed between a barrel swivel and a sliding sinker to protect your line from the pounding of all that leads.

Eagle Claw A8BEAD20R Plastic Beads, 8 mm, Red, 20 Piece

Ice Sea Sinker Slides

A slide is essential when you need to be able to slide easily with a large sinker. The clip makes it easy to adjust sinker weights according to changing conditions.

ICE SEA 25-50pcs Fishing Line Sinker Slide with Duo-Lock Snap Blue High-Strength Sinker Slider Stainless Steel Snap Kit (Light Blue, 25pcs)

Bullet Weights Pyramid Sinkers

A traditional pyramid sinker allows for long castings and holds well. It will keep your bottom fishing gear where it is needed. It can resist the current and tides by laying on its side.

Bullet Weight’s sinkers come in a variety of weights from 1 to 6 ounces making them an excellent choice for any situation.

Dr. Fish Cigar Float

Pesky crabs can ruin live bait on the bottom. But a cigar float can keep your hook afloat, keeping you in the game longer.

Dr.Fish 30 Pack Fishing Rig Floats Cork Float Pompano Floats Walleye Rig Lure Making Accessories Surf Fishing Foam Bobbers Snell Float Pencil Float

Portail Barrel Swivels

Barrel swivels, which are essential for rigging, are also important. You’ll need strong options to rig large, heavy fish. Portail has swivels that can be used for anything from fluke to sharks, and specks to specks.Riptail Barrel Fishing Swivels – Steel with Corrosion-Resistant Finish, Size #8 (45lb) - 100 Pack

Thundermist Lure Company T-Turn 3-Way Swivel

Some anglers prefer to tie their double-hooked rods. However, a three-way swivel works better at preventing tangles. It also allows live bait to swim more freely, which attracts more bites.T-Turn Thundermist Black Nickel, Medium

Breakaway Super Sinker

Breakaway Super Sinkers come in standard surfcasting weights and offer a better grip for anglers who have to deal with rocky bottoms.Breakaway Super Sinker 4oz

Best Bottom Fishing Rigs: Three Rigs to Rule Them All

The Fish Finder Rig (A Modified Carolina Rig)

The Fish Finder is the most popular rig among bottom fishermen. The Fish Finder is essentially a Carolina Rig, but with a modified grip for tide-buckling and longer casting, it’s an effective, versatile option that every angler should be able to assemble.

The only time the Fish Finder Rig can fail you is when confronted with an angry horde of crabs. They’ll grab your hook, steal your meal, and, depending on which live bait option you choose, will be able to access it as fast as you can rig it.

These steps will help you assemble a Fish Finder Rig.

  1. Attach a sinker sleeve to your mainline.
  2. You can stop the bead by following it. This will protect your barrel from the sinker.
  3. Attach a barrel swivel to a Uni Knot.
  4. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.
  5. You can trim the leader to 18-25 inches. Use wire to support species with aggressive teeth.
  6. Attach a Palomar knot to one end.
  7. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.
  8. Attach the other end of the leader to the barrel swivel using a Uni Knot
  9. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.

For sharks and large fish that have razor-sharp teeth:

  1. Attach a sinker sleeve to your mainline.
  2. Continue the process with a bead stop.
  3. Attach a Uni Knot to attach the size 4 or 5.barrel swivel.
  4. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag. It’s easier to tie a tie if you have heavy mono.
  5. You can cut 18-25 inches of heavy wire leader.
  6. The wire should be run through the hook’s eye, then slide on one barrel connector. Finally, crimp the wire with pliers.
  7. The wire leader should be crimped to the barrel swivel.

The Floating Fish Finder Rig

The Floating Fish Finder Rig offers a unique way to keep live bait from the bottom at a certain depth. This not only puts your bait right where hungry fish will find it but also stops pesky crabs from stealing it.

These steps will help you to assemble a floating fish finder rig.

  1. Attach a sinker sleeve to your mainline.
  2. You can stop the bead by following it. This will protect your barrel from the sinker.
  3. Attach a barrel swivel to a Uni Knot.
  4. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.
  5. You can trim the leader to 18-25 inches. Use wire to support species with aggressive teeth.
  6. Attach a Palomar knot to one end.
  7. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.
  8. A split shot or two should be crimped 3-4 inches from the hook.
  9. Place a cigar float on your leader.
  10. Attach the other end of the leader to the barrel swivel using a Uni Knot
  11. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.

For sharks and large fish that have razor-sharp teeth:

  1. Attach a sinker sleeve to your mainline.
  2. Continue the process with a bead stop.
  3. Attach a Uni Knot to attach the size 4 or 5.barrel swivel.
  4. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag. It’s easier to tie a tie if you have heavy mono.
  5. You can cut 18-25 inches of heavy wire leader.
  6. The wire should be run through the hook’s eye, then slide on one barrel connector. Finally, crimp the wire with pliers.
  7. A split shot or two should be crimped 3-4 inches from the hook.
  8. Place a cigar float on your leader.
  9. The wire leader should be crimped to the barrel swivel.

The High/Low Ri

I love the High/Low Rig. It’s one of my favorite rigs.

It is ideal for running multiple live baits or jigs. This will help you to pinpoint what triggers bites and give you another chance at attracting a strike.

This rig can also be used with one hook. It’s deadly and has very little chance of getting tangled.

Fishing in areas with snags is a problem? Run a Breakaway Super Sinker, or use lightweight mono to make a dropper line that will allow you to remove your sinker.

A single mainline is used by some anglers with Dropper Loops running along with it. Leaders are also run from it. Although T-swivels don’t need to be used for this type of rigging I have found that tangling can cause problems.

These steps will help you to assemble a High/Low rig.

  1. Take 10-18 inches off the leader.
  2. Use a Uni Knot to tie your leader to the bottom end of a T-swivel.
  3. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.
  4. Take 18 inches off the leader.
  5. Use a Uni Knot to tie the leader to your T-swivel.
  6. Use a Uni Knot to tie the other end of the T-swivel to the bottom.
  7. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Then trim the end of your tag.
  8. Another 18 inches of leader can be cut.
  9. Tie a Uni Knot to the top end of the second T-swivel.
  10. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Trim the end of the tag.
  11. Attach the leader’s free end to a barrel swivel using a Uni Knot
  12. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Trim the end of the tag.
  13. Attach the sinker to the lower leader using a Surgeon’s Loop.
  14. TheHigh T-swivel attaches approximately 10-12 inches of leader, you can use a Uni Knot.
  15. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Trim the end of the tag.
  16. Attach a Palomar loop to the end of your short leader.
  17. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Trim the end of the tag.
  18. TheLow T-swivelUse a Uni Knot for attaching approximately 18-24 inches of leader.
  19. Attach a Palomar loop to the end of your short leader.
  20. You can wet the knot and tighten it. Trim the end of the tag.

You can skip the complicated process by purchasing a high-quality High/Low Rig made from a 30-pound mono leader from Tide Rite. Tide Rite has loops at their hooks so that they can be easily removed if you don’t need the Mustad bait holders.

Bluefish can also be caught in a high/low rig that you can use to make leaders out of wire.

Jasmine offers a pre-tied wire rig in both one-arm and two-arm versions.

Live and Dead Baits for Bottom Fishing

It would take too much time to list all the species saltwater anglers use as bait. The best advice is to ask other fishermen at the pier, boat launch, and on the water.

The general rule is that any small fish you rig will attract larger predators. However, the exact species depends on where you are located and what food chain it is.

Nothing beats deep-water fishing and big fish like the Atlantic SalmonLive bait such as blue runners, pinfish, blue runners, and the various species of small mackerel and small tuna include blue runners, bluefish, blue runners, and other types of scad.

Snapper, amberjack, and grouper simply cannot resist them. The bigger the bait, the better!

The larger the pinfish, the better!

Experienced fishing guides will tell ya that the best way to catch these fish is to catch them. For this reason, it’s a good idea for you to have a medium-light rod.

I like to keep a few lines in the water. Travis Palledeno reminds that catching your bait reduces stress and keeps them alive, which in turn makes them swim longer.

It is also a lot of fun to catch lots of baitfish while waiting for the bottom to hit.

For deep water, a big Blue Runner hooked up to a Fish Finder Rig is a great choice.

Croaker! This is also a great bait and they are great fun to catch while you wait.

This dorsal-hooked Croaker is just waiting for a big Blue to grab it by the tail.

Mullet live Money can also refer to time, and almost everything has it on the menu.

The best live bait for most species is a hand-sized mullet. If rigged as such, you can expect a speck of fish to be hooked.

Of course, live shrimp when you are trying to get a bite of reds or another shellfish-hungry anima can be worth their weight. A cast net is always a good idea to have onboard for when we spot them.

Take out the mullet can also be very effective, and I have used cut bait extensively on my bottom, just like many saltwater anglers.

Fresh mullet is a good choice. Don’t over-bait the hook. Choose an octopus-style that forms almost a full circle with the barb. You’ll be surprised at how effective cut bait can work on the bottom.

In shallower waters like the surf and the trough behind breaker fresh claims can be magical.

They are a magnet for blues, specks, and all other surf-casting prey.

However, each species is unique.

Capt. Capt.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article has helped you gear up for bottom fishing.

With the right tackle, well-tied rigs, and carefully chosen live or cut bait, bottom fishing can be among the most productive techniques to catch big fish.

If we’ve helped you up to your game, we’d love to hear about it!

Please leave a comment below.

Lewis
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.