Grouper are notoriously difficult to catch. They are found close to the bottom and hiding in structure. Plus, they can be incredibly difficult to land, often heading straight back to tackle breaking structure once hooked. One of the first questions many anglers have is “What rig should I use?” Let us show you how the Carolina Rig can be adapted for monster grouper.
What is the Carolina Rig?
Fresh water anglers are probably already familiar with the Carolina Rig, which is very similar to the Texas Rig with the exception of how the weight is attached. On the latter the sliding sinker is allows to move freely all the way to the hook / terminal tackle. The Carolina Rig includes a stop above the leader to prevent the sinker from sliding as far down the line. Saltwater angler may now this as a fish finder or live bait rig.
Carolina Rig Set Up
A basic Carolina Rig set up is fairly simple and often considered one of the best salt water bottom rigs as it allows a more natural presentation, especially if using live bait, and allows the fish to take the bait without detecting the weight right away.
- Thread main line through egg sinker or a sinker slide. The slide is preferred for larger weight (above 3 or 4 ounces) and often provides better presentation.
- Attach Swivel to end of main line.
- Attach bead just above swivel. The bead prevents the weight or slide from slamming the swivel, which can result damage or break the swivel.
- Attach leader to opposite end of swivel. Basic Carolina Rigs will use short leader, 18” is usually the maximum. Saltwater applications require a bit longer and for Grouper this can be as long as 4 or 5’. This allows the fish to take bait and start swimming prior to feeling resistance.
- Attach 8/0 or 9/0 circle hook. Using a circle hook will increase successful hook up as the fish does most of the work, less need to detect bit and set hook.
- Tip with bait of your choice. The traditional Carolina Rig is often used with plastics. Although this is an option live or fresh cut bait is more effective when targeting Grouper.
If rigged properly, and with a little bit of luck, the Grouper will take the bait and start to swim away prior to feeling resistance from the weight. This will increase the chance that it drops the bait before the circle hook sets.
- Set your drag high, often to the maximum setting. Let the fish run with the longer leader rather than extra line.
- As soon as the bite is detected and hook sets reel hard. Grouper like to head for cover once they have a meal, so you need to overpower them with brute force to stop & then turn them before they get there.
- If they make it to cover relax. Many anglers will break off and try again, but this adds up both in terms of lost fish and lost tackle. Instead, try letting out a little slack and giving the fish a chance to relax and possible leave cover before giving up.