Snapper Tactics

Updated: Jul 13

One of the simplest way to guarantee you'll bag out when the snapper are in good numbers is to try "float-lining". Normally this means the method of slowly letting your bait 'waft" down to the bottom, hoping that the chosen species will grab the bait before it hits the bottom.


Float-lining works very well as long as you get the ratio of sink rate to water current right. You want to have the bait land in the middle of that school of snapper. Sounds easy, but with depth and current, you may find your bait gets to the right depth but long after having passed the school of fish you see on your sounder! Once it gets to the bottom, the small "peckers" may then get at your bait and waste another drift.


Here's some tips on targeting snapper this way:





Tip # 1 Rig as light as possible for the conditions.

Assuming you are using pilchards/sardines for bait, you can use a single hook, a couple of hooks in a snell type rig, or a gang of hooks. This doesn't really matter. What matters most is that you need to bait to waft down as slowly as possible, and ensure that it gets to that school of fish at the right time. So choose the smallest sinker size you can get away with- or even no sinker if the current is calm. A simple running ball sinker rig, whether the sinker is above or below the swivel, is all you need. More current, deeper water, or smaller target areas, requires a heavier sinker.


Snap-on sinkers are a great idea allowing you to quickly swap over if you find you have the wrong combination. But even with traditional sinkers, spending the time to re-tie a rig with a different sinker might be the difference between no fish and bagging- out!


I'll also often use 5/0 or larger Circle Hooks. You do not "strike" on the bite if using a Circle hook. You simply need to put tension on the line , and as the fish swims off, the hooks will turn and give a good hook-up in the corner of the fish's mouth.


Tip # 2 Go up-current before you drop the bait

You've found the perfect showing of fish on the sounder. You're in reasonable depth of water. There's some current running.

After one or two drops of your rig, you'll soon work out the drop rate. Sometimes you can even see the bait going down on your Sounder if you are sitting over the bait. Time the drop so that it arrives in the zone at the right time.


Tip # 3 Try to keep your line vertical

We have found that idling the ski into the current can keep your line more vertical, and you are more likely to get a hook-up- and avoid getting snagged! This will likely mean that you need to slowly circle around the line as it drops to the bottom. Be careful not to let it get anywhere near your ski as a slack line could get sucked into your intake grate!



Tip # 4 Rig your bait properly

Snapper and many dermersal species will feed "head first" if you use a whole bait. This is because the spikey dorsel fins on many species folds back on the body, so swallowing a bait whole is best done head first! So make sure you have good hook clearance around the bait to ensure that as soon as the fish takes it, the hooks will engage!


Rig the bait as straight as possible. A bent bait may often go untouched. It doesn't look natural to the fish, and it wastes your drift.


Tip # 5 Let your line out freely

Using a jig/overhead reel or a bait-runner style spinning reel helps. You can thumb the spool on an overhead or jig reel and feel when a snapper picks up the bait and runs. Snapper can be shy and quickly spit a bait if they feel too much tension, so lightly thumbing the spool while dropping it down allows you to easily feel when the fish has grabbed the bait and runnning. The spool will suddenly increase speed, and then it's time to brake the spool with your thumb and start winding!


I personally love my jig reel for fishing for snapper. It's small and lightweight, and teamed up with my standard jigging rod, it is very light and small, and that it is a joy to use all day. Once I feel a fish running with the bait, I only need to wind the handle, and the gear engages.


With a bait-runner reel, you have a spool that can be set to have minimal drag on the line, allowing a fish to run. You engage the reel simply by winding the handle. It's very similar to a jigging reel.


A baitcaster reel could also be a good option, however I am yet to find one that stands up to the saltwater abuse that jetski fishing offers!




Tip # 6 If they aren't biting, try another method

It can be really frustrating when you can see the fish on your sounder but you are getting no bites!


Using the same basic idea of float-lining baits, why not try dropping a soft plastic slowly down. This often can work well on snapper -and many other fish too! The trick is getting the jig head weight correct for the depth or current to have the slow "waft". I've had two fishing sessions where a group of us had no luck on bait, but a slowly wafting soft plastic has worked wonders.


Metal jigs, and especially slow pitch style jigging, can also work well when the fish are shy. The good thing about jigs is that you are fishing the entire water column, and you are fishing "all the time" from the moment you drop the jig until you get it back to the surface. No smelly bait to contend with either! Jigs are great on the snapper, and even a rod left in a rod holder with either a slow pitch jig or a Kabura jig will yield results.




I hope these simple tips help you - and allow you to catch your own trophy Snapper! Please click the link to a video below showing the above techniques being used on Snapper:



#snapper #jigs #overheadreels #softplastics #jetskifishing




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