Picking a Fishing Rod for Snook

There is no perfect rod for any fish species, much less a perfect rod for one of the most challenging and difficult to catch fish. But snook is a species that essentially ‘migrates’ within a very limited and very well-defined area where they live, and knowing that will help you understand which rod is more appropriate and when. You can use anything from a cane pole to a heavy-duty spinning rod, but some are better than others. Below are examples of rods to use, with the exception of the spincasting rod, which is not preferable for snook.

Rods for snook.

A Spinning Rod-and-Reel for Snook Fishing

If you had to pick the best rod to use for snook fishing, it would be a spinning rod. You can start with one, and if you want to expand your equipment, do it based on where the fish are going to be at specific times of the year.

An Ultralight reel goes with the lightest versions of spinning rods: Ultralight rods. They handle very light line -- as light as 2-lb. test, and are best suited for open water, where the fish has room to run and you have room to fight them. The issue you have to consider is "turning" the fish -- which is fishy-talk for pulling the fish's head in your direction -- when using very light tackle.

Here are the basics for snook fishing rods:

Your First Spinning Rod for Catching Snook: The “Perfect” all-around snook rod is:

  • A 7-foot spinning rod with fast or extra-fast action is perfect for snook fishing. It will work all year, and can be used to work both live baits as well as artificial lures with equal grace and ease. If you had to have one, this is it. Action is important to allow that variability in lure and bait selection. A second choice would be longer and a little heavier-duty. A seven-six or even an eight foot rod with 30-lb. braid and 40-lb. fluorocarbon leaders. Heavier is best suited if you’re fishing big live baits like ladyfish.
  • Spinning Rod for snook.
    St. Croix Spinning Rod

  • The most appropriate line for your perfect snook rod is 20-lb. braided line. Some anglers prefer bright colors while others feel that neutrals are better because they are less visible to the fish (but not the angler).
  • Spinning Reels for snook need great drag systems and smooth action. Manufacturers rank their reels by size, weight, and what line is most suited for the diameter and strength of the drag systems. How smooth the reel you select – regardless of who makes it – is critical in the reel(s) you select for snook.
  • Spinning reel for snook.
    Daiwa Ballistic Spinning Reel

Using Baitcasting Rods and Reels for Snook

Called “Conventional” rods and reels, the spool spins to gather and organize the line when you retrieve your bait or lure. A spinning reel, on the other hand, uses a “bail” system to spin the line around the stationary spool. The reels on these rods sit on top of the rod, rather than underneath it, and when you’re catching snook near big structure, docks, sea walls, and big bridges (or deeper structure for the nearshore populations), having it there gives you a great deal more leverage for lifting and controlling heavy fish.

The Perfect Casting Rod for Snook Fishing would be:

  • A 7-foot, a 7’6” rod, or an 8-foot casting rod. If we had to pick one it would be the Seven Foot casting rod with a trigger grip. Casting rods are faster-action by nature. Longer ones are better for more open-water conditions, especially those you’ll find fishing deeper water for nearshore structure snook.
  • Denali Rod for snook.
    Denali Rod J2 Series

  • If you’re going to use the rod for both live baits (especially if you consider using them in open water with scaled sardines or other live fish baits), you should look more to what the manufacturer’s call Medium action. Use softer rods for live bait.
  • Conventional Reels for Snook. Having that level wind keeps the line from tangling and allows the angler to use the leverage offered by the equipment without having to focus on tangles in the spool, or all the line piling on one or the other side of the reel.
  • Tica reel for snook.
    Tica KJ Tactica Reel

  • The best line for your Casting rods is fluorocarbon. Some people use braid, and some use regular monofilament. But if you can afford the extra cost, a pure fluorocarbon is perfect for a relatively small casting reel that you’ll be using for snook. This is a personal choice on the part of the author, and like all fishing advice – regardless of what line you choose for your casting equipment – might be different for you.

Flyrods for Snook Fishing

Flyrods are categories by their “Weight”. You can put heavier flyline on a lighter rod and reel combination, but by far the best way to select fly equipment is to match the rod, the line, and the reel by their specified weight. What weight flyrod you choose will determine which leaders you use. But staying in the lines when you’re fly fishing will produce the best results. Fly equipment is a really challenging thing to use, and using a flyrod to catch a snook that much more difficult. But purists are truly dedicated to this somewhat narrow sub-category of this sport we love so much.

To pick the perfect flyrod for snook fishing, consider the following:
  • Flyrods come light and move up to heavyweight. For catching snook on a flyrod you want to be somewhere in the middle. A flyrod that is measured as being an Eight Weight flyrod would be perfect for most fishing on the flats or near the docks in the wintertime, where tiny shrimp and crab flies can literally slay snook. Heavier rods can cast further and you can use bigger flies.
  • Fly fishing rod for snook.
    TFO BVK Fly Rod 4-Piece

  • Flyline for snook should be Weight Forward or Torpedo weight. The line matches the weight listing of the rod you select. The perfect rod is an eight foot, with an 8-weight torpedo line.
  • Leaders for Snook are hand-made or pre-made in a factory, but share one thing in common. They are thick where they’re connected with something called a “Nail Knot” to the flyline (which is thin at the tip regardless of the size of the forward-balanced heavier, thicker sections) and thin where they’re tied to the lure. Handmade ones use pieces of individual lines tied together with blood knots.
  • Leaders for snook.
    Scientific Anglers Leader - Permit/Bonefish/Redfish 2 Pack

A General Comment about Snook Tackle

For starters, a few general rules apply to the rod-and-reel combinations you select for snook fishing. Spinning Tackle is easy to use. Action of the rod is critical, and if you only have one rod it should be a ‘fast-action’ rod that does not bend too far down the rod to the handle. An all-around rod would be fast or extra fast, and can handle both live bait and artificials.

Okuma fly reel for snook.
Okuma Cedros Fly Reel

Casting or Level-Wind (Conventional) tackle is built to give the angler more “lift.” They’re heavier and have faster action on a rod-to-rod comparison than spinning tackle. You can start with relatively light equipment – a standard “pistol-grip” rod used for largemouth bass on our ponds, rivers, and lakes works perfectly for smaller fish under docks in the wintertime. They cannot be beat near heavy structure in the winter when you’re throwing live shrimp under docks, or soft-plastic jigs near deeper structure in colder waters.

Flyrods are very popular for snook under the right conditions. A flyrod casts the weight of its line, not the weight of the lure, which is relatively insignificant. What are the right conditions for using a flyrod to catch a snook? Aficionados say all conditions are appropriate. We don’t quite agree, but we do have experience with them all year for most species.

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