Rigging for the Deep Drop
Deep drop fishing is a unique facet to bottom fishing for grouper, snapper and much more. It can be a day maker and will regularly have you saying, ” I’ve never seen that before, what is it?” Some consider it boring, and like all fishing it can have slow times. The nature of dropping your bait 800 to 2000-feet takes time to get down and even longer to come back up, but the suspense of what it might be pulling and the incredible edibility of most captures makes this a worthy option.
Of course the electric reel is the heart of the operation and there are a wide variety of models to choose from. Some are self-contained, while others are motors that adapt to an existing reel. Either way, the electric reel has its place in this fishery. Only the most pure of purist will insist they do it by hand, and that won’t last long.
To build a deep drop rig, one must gather the tackle to build heavy-duty, multi-hook rigs. These fish live in the dark, so one does not have to worry about hardware and it’s visibility. Circle hooks are the standard and Mustad makes a variety of heavy-duty hook options. I use 200 to 400-pound mono for building the mainline and the hook droppers. You will need the tools and crimps for working with this heavy leader. Chafe guard, heavy three-way swivels, snap swivels and glow tube crimp protectors will make up the rest of the tackle list.
First, I build the top of the rig by creating a loop in the mono and protecting it with chafe guard. You could also crimp to a large barrel swivel. This will attach to your main line of braid on the reel.
Here is the loop and I happen to have some glow tube which helps give the rig some fish attracting light when it settles into the darkness of the deep. I make the top lead about 18-inches long and then I attach to a heavy duty three way swivel(preferred) or the sleeved-swivel pictured below.
Now I make the dropper loops with the hooks. They do not need to be long, about 4 to 6-inches will do it and I use a glowing crimp protector to stiffen it and add that glow factor. The sleeved-swivel in this picture will work, but care must be taken to crimp very firmly without crushing or cracking the sleeve. They will slide down the leader under pressure if they are not crimped enough, but they are also a little brittle, so for that reason I prefer the heavy three-way swivels below.
Here is the super heavy three-way swivel that I prefer to use. You have to do more crimping, but they are indestructible and can be used over and over to rebuild rigs.
As you add your hook droppers down the line, make sure that you space them far enough apart that they cannot reach each other to tangle up when the rig is tight. I normally use about five hooks per rig. I try to keep each component the same length and the overall length trimmed down for ease of handling when bringing it over the gunnel.
On the opposite or bottom end, I crimp the same 18-inches of main line to a heavy-duty but inexpensive snap swivel. This will be the connection to the heavy weights required by depth and current.
You want to have a variety of weights available to adjust with the depth or current. I like to carry and assortment from 5 to 10-pounds so that I can adjust as needed. Err to the heavy side when doubt. You want to be able to hold bottom, at least for a short period, before you have to let more line out and find the bottom again. Current and drift will effect this the most. Use the boat’s power to minimize the drift and stay vertical to your line as best as you can.
When your making rigs, make plenty of extras so that if you lose or damage one while fishing, you can quickly swap it out with a new one. Store each rig in its own bag to reduce tangles. We don’t hang the bottom too often, but sometimes I make the leader on the lead dropper out of a much lighter leader material so that if the lead hangs rock, it will break off first saving the rest of the rig. Shark attack tends to be the most prevalent cause of a lost rig.
There are a wide variety of deep drop lights available and a price range to match. These high-dollar lights from Lindgren-Pitman are very dependable and sturdy, but I’ll be darned if I don’t get sharked whenever I clip one on and lose it. Still, a large part of your success in water over 800-feet will depend on lighting of some type. Cheap light sticks crack under the pressure and then leak staining chemical on your boat after the drop. There are light sticks made up to the task, they just are not cheap.
With the amazing powers of braided lines, you can feel the bite on the other end as if it was just under the boat. The trick is balancing the urge to let the circle hooks work their magic and string up multiple fish verses the so true adage of one in the hand is worth two still in the deep.
When you strike that delicate balance, you will find yourself with a nice mess of the best eating fish around. If you live or visit an area with deep drop possibilities, gear up and give it a try. You can never have too many options for a day of fishing.