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Grouper And Reef Fishing Gear

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Have a few general questions about fishing the nearshore reefs. The desired species is Grouper.

 

Some articles I read recommend 80# braid with 100# Flouro leader on a slow speed conventional reel to provide the extra torque needed without as much effect as spinning.

 

Others tell me is the way to go for its shock absorbing qualities.

 

Other articles say that while a 5000 or 6000 spinning reel on a 6 to 7 foot matching spinning rod can do almost as well but make it more difficult to pull the fish from structure. 

 

Considering that the nearby reefs are anywhere from 20 to 35 feet, what rod/reel combo (conventional or spinning) would be recommended. 

 

Any suggestions as to braid + fluoro or mono?

Rod/Reel setup?

 

Thanks,

 

Lloyd

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I'm surprised there was not much input on this topic. However, I thought I should report back after my visit to Tarpon Fishing Outfitters where I spoke with Capt. David Rieumont. He fixed me up with a Penn Squall 30 Reel loaded with 40# Diamond Mono in blue on an Ugly Stik Custom 7ft Rod. He recommended to start with 50 or 60# leader and step up to 80# if getting break-offs.

 

Now just need to get my boat back from annual maintenance and repairs and I'll be heading out to the nearshore reefs.

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Both conventional and spinning are good at certain times but I tend to opt for my spinning outfits most of the time mainly because its just more comfortable to hold and fish with and I can get that first 7 feet of line into the reel very quick when im on my game.  I recently purchased a Star rod with a 30-100 lb line rating spinning rod with a Cabo 80.....you wanna talk about a down and dirty reel that's it....you sacrifice some smoothness but you gain so much power and drag its my go to for grouper and when im on my 2nd or 3rd tarpon of the day :)  .   I sport 60lb braid on it and for the grouper I will use 60-100 lb leader depending on where im fishing....usually 60 for red grouper on live bottom and 80-100 on wrecks and reefs.  The main thing I will say about this is try them both....whatever you feel like you can gain line on quicker is what you should use when grouper fishing and make sure those drags are locked down.    grouper should not be able to pull drag, that's why guys use pliers to lock down the star drags.   gooduck!   Also I have only fished veterans reef twice but both times we got some really nice gags off of that.

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Thanks for the detailed response. The newer conventional reels, like the squall 30, have a gear ratio of approx. 6:1 so it's a fairly fast retrieve compared to the 2:1 up to 4:1 that was typical in the older reels (per Capt. David). So, I'm hoping the conventional setup will give me the torque and pulling power of the boat road to get the grouper off the bottom. I'll report back after a catch. 

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I have an old school Senator 6/0 reel on a 6'6" broomstick of a rod (I think it's a dogfish rod) with 40# mono, a 2 speed reel with 60# braid on a 6' 100# jigging rod, and a spheros spinning reel on a 7' redbone rod rated to 40# I think.  Just like ol' lostmans said up there, I grab the spinning setup 9 times out of 10 for comfort, ease, and better fishability.  I feel more on the spinning and I can really control how I want to fight the fish.  That being said, I definitely get rocked more often on the spinning than I do on the other two.  It's a trade off.  Can't go wrong with a  big conventional setup for grouper fishing but once you get it dialed in and know what those fish are going to do you can employ those newfound skills to working on 'em with a nice, comfy spinning rod.  Happy digging.

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post-175487-0-34057300-1438881073_thumb.jpgYou know the more I think I know, the more I learn how little I know.

 

Great start to a comment about what gear right?

 

So Ok here are some things about grouper fishing that you need to know. Most of the time Grouper are not hook or line shy, so going heavy is fine, however its those times that they are is when you separate the men from the boys.

 

Second braid is super sensitive, but does not give. Fast reels may give you an advantage in the first few seconds of battle to keep a grouper from finding his rocky home but can literally rip the hook out of a groupers rather soft mouth. When a grouper is trying to escape from you he will make several lunges that will tear bigger and bigger holes in the area that you hooked him. Often times if you allow a grouper any slack the hook can literally drop out of that hole.

 

Braid having little stretch is sensitive and strong, but without give you can tear a hook through a groupers mouth. So if you fish with braid to be effective you need to use some mono as a top shot as a shock absorber. I feel a minimum of 30 feet is necessary. Also a softer rod is needed to allow for the lunges of a big grouper.

 

If you use Mono you can use a stiffer rod. But you have to be quick on the uptake and a locked down drag is a good idea. The problem with mono is that it is thicker and requires more weight to hold it on the bottom. A fluorocarbon leader is always a good idea. But remember Fluorocarbon is a bit like braid in that it has little stretch. So it is not an effective Shock Absorber. Diamond Mono has a lot of shock absorbing abilities as does World Wide Sportsman Camo Mono. Diamond is some awesome stuff for black and Gag Grouper.

 

Speed is not always your friend. I had a motto of speed kills when fishing grouper until I found that when fishing big baits for big grouper you can often slowly lift them off the bottom as they take your bait. They then hook themselves when they lunge realizing something is off. But by then they are ten to twelve foot of the bottom. With a hard strike give them hell, with a soft strike gently begin to raise your rod feeling the bend and begin taking in line until the lunge.

 

Inshore wrecks and reefs are not going to hold grouper over twenty pounds very often and usually much smaller. Heavy line over 60#s 0r leader over 60# is usually overkill and will give you fewer bites. In fact there are times when you are better off with a knocker rig or jig on 30# leader. I call this finesse grouper fishing. In this case a spinning rig rules!!! But learning how to short pump and steer a big gag from making it to its home is a learning curve

 

In deeper water against big grouper a fine conventional reel that is two speed with a lever drag is king. You can take your first few turns at 6.1 on a locked down drag then push the drag to the strike position allowing some forgiveness in the drag keeping the hook from pulling out of the fish. And then drop the speed down to 3.1 to allow for a smooth retrieve of the fish to the surface not allowing for fish losing slack.

 

So without writing a book, you can fish light spinning tackle in some circumstances when the grouper are picky, you can fish a stouter boat rod with mono on a faster reel as the mono has give. If you fish braid use a top shot and a softer tipped rod with a stronger fore end like an Ugly Stick Tiger lite.

 

Some good reels I suggest are the Shimano Thunnus or Saragosa for finesse fishing Grouper with a good jigging rod like a Trevala or an Offshore Extreme. My favorite finesse rig is a 6000 Thunnus with 50# World Wide Sportsman Blue Braid on a Offshore Extreme, Extreme Jigging rod 7ft with a 30 foot Flouro leader to a T & A Jighead tipped with a sardine, Live shrimp or pinfish. The rod has enough give to allow for the groupers lunges yet enough backbone to short pump a grouper away from his lair. It may change how you fish.

 

Conventional reels like a Saltist two speed or Saltiga two speed are great for the big Gags and Blacks. If you are on a budget look at the Penn Senators and Squalls. Use some Diamond mono and lock down that Drag!!! A short rod with rollers will give you an advantage on a big fish. Remember if you get rocked up set the rod down and take all the tension of the line and start fishing with another rod. More often than not that big grouper will come back out.

 

With all that said I learn something new every time I am out. I have changed how I fish many times. The secret to a great fisherman is flexibility and the ability to learn and adapt.post-175487-0-90011700-1438880623_thumb.jpg

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