Bottom fishing: the complete guide (2023)

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Bottom fishing is the technique of choice for countless anglers and it's easy to see why. Known for its fun, action-packed excursions, it can produce catches of virtually any size. And while it may be a simple technique in theory, bottom fishing has its ifs, buts, and maybes. For this, we decided to write a complete guide on this fishing method.

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What is bottom fishing?

First, let's get the obvious question out of the way. Bottom fishing essentially involves lowering a weighted hook or lure to the bottom of the water column. Sounds easy, right? But there's a little more to it than that.

One of the things that makes bottom fishing so addictive is the fact that you can do it in so many ways. There are several styles of fishing to choose from depending on the body of water you are fishing in and what you are trying to catch. You can use different lures and tackle and play around with different presentations.

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In this guide, you'll learn more about each of these factors. By the time you're done reading, you'll know everything you need to make your next fishing trip a blast. Let's dive in!

Where can you bottom fish?

Fishermen often say that the bottom of the sea is a vast desert with beacons of life scattered everywhere. Whether you like the metaphor or not, these remote places exist and attract an impressive variety of sea creatures. Fish gather hereunderwater structure, looking for a shelter or something to eat.

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Like the ocean, freshwater bottom structures are home to their own group of bottom-dwelling fish.

You'll be amazed at how many fish can gather around the smallest structure. Eitherreefs,shipwrecks, orany underwater trainingBy the way, these places are a real treasure for bottom fishermen.

Of course, not every structure is the same. Bottom fishing off the coast is very different from going deep 50 miles from shore. Here are some examples of where to cast your bait depending on where you are.

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  • inshore fishing: bridge pillars, rocky banks and pillars.
  • Fishing near the shore: Shipwrecks, natural and artificial reefs.
  • deep sea fishing: Shipwrecks, artificial reefs and oil platforms.
  • fresh water fishing: bridge abutments, pillars, rock formations and slopes.
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common background shots

Let's let you in on a little secret: the list of fish that you can catch while bottom fishing is incredibly long. With this technique, you can get everything from a deliciousPanfishfor a giantgrouper, and everything else. In short, if he lives close to the ground, you can capture him.

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In freshwater, that means it's all off.perchforBluegill, forcarpeGraves🇧🇷 When fishing in saltwater, you can focus on flavorflunderorSeebarschonly offshore. And then offshore bottom fishing goes into high gear. From legendary fighters likesnapperegrouper, The giantAmberjacketile fish, there's no telling what you might catch in those parts.

essential equipment

As with most fishing techniques, theaiwill determinehow🇧🇷 In other words, you're not going to pry a monster grouper off an oil rig with an old stick. To show you what works best, let's go through some proven approaches. But before we do that, let's quickly cover a few bottom fishing items every angler should have in their arsenal.

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No bottom fishing expedition would be possible without three essential elements. these are theSinker, to diehook, e asline🇧🇷 In combination with some other optional items, they form what is called aaccessory🇧🇷 When a good fishing system is combined with qualitybait, you get a combination that no bottom fish can ignore.

We are about to cover the best rigs for bottom fishing. First, let's look at the pros and cons of different hooks, ropes, and sinkers.


A sinker is nothing more than ableach weightworeto lower your baitfor the ground. Depending on the type of structure you are fishing for, you should use one of these three variations:

  • owner lowers: A round plate with a cord hole in the middle. The main benefit of using one is that a fish can pick up your bait and move with it without feeling any resistance from the weight.
  • bank sinker: Shaped like bowling pins, these types are great for rocky ground as they don't get stuck between them as easily.
  • Pyramidensenker: This type of sinker is excellent for bottom fishing in the surf, as its sharp point keeps the bottom in the sand.

Regarding the actual weight,deeper waters require heavier sinkers🇧🇷 The good thing about using a heavier sinker is that it allows your hook to quickly slide through any bait on the way down. However, heavier sinkers can make bites more difficult to detect and recover from. Most anglers agree that it's best to use the lightest lead that will hold your bait at the desired depth.

The difficulty with using sinkers is that the same weight may not always work. The reason is simple: updated. A golden rule,Stronger chains require heavier weights🇧🇷 In order not to get distracted, we recommend that you always have at least a few sinkers in your tackle box.

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The age-old question of what is the best line for bottom fishing is something every angler has a theory about. Some like to use braid, others prefer mono, and still others prefer fluorocarbon.any type of linehas its own pros and cons, so it pays to know which one to use and when.

  • Mono: Inexpensive and easy to use, the Mono is the preferred choice of many anglers. Mono The downside is that most mono varieties are buoyant, making them less than ideal for bottom fishing.
  • braided: The strongest line type on the market, ideal for tackling big fish in deep water. The downside is that it is expensive and difficult to use compared to mono.
  • Fluorkohlenstoff: Gives good feedback and is the best choice for bottom fishing in clear water. It is also very resistant, making it ideal for fishing on rocky bottoms. The downside is that it's a little more difficult to handle and tie the knots.

In reality, you will probably need to usea combination of at least twoof these. One of the most common line combinations for deep sea fishing is abraided mainline coupled to a fluorine leader🇧🇷 This combination offers ample line strength while still maintaining stealth and accuracy.

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When it comes to bottom fishing hooks,circle hooktend to work better, especially if you're targeting big fish. They stay much firmer in the fish's mouth and can survive a good fight without being ripped off. Unlike treble hooks and "J" hooks, circle hooks require no adjustment, making them a better choice for beginners.

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Bottom fish don't actually have big mouths, so don't go overboard with the hook size. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of each type of hook, check out ourcomplete guideabout the subject.


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Now let's take a look at some of the best rigs for bottom fishing. There are endless variations, so let's focus on the most important and simple ones.

  • Das Sliding Sinker RigAlso known as Carolina tackle, it is one of the most effective bottom fishing tackles you can find. It consists of a simple sliding swivel connected to a single leader, with a sinker, heel and hook at the end.
  • The spreading equipmentAlso known as a chicken coop, it is a versatile tool for bottom fishing, as its two hooks allow you to cover more depth. It is often used with bank sinks, making it a good choice for rocky bottoms.
  • A 3-way harness, also known as a drop harness, featuresa 3-way swivel that connects the main, leader and shorter lead line. It is very useful for surf fishing and keeps the hook slightly floating above the bottom.
  • With the egg sinker as the only component,the knocker systemit's one of the easiest platforms out there. Due to its "direct" configuration, the Knocker Rig allows you to feel the bite instantly. Another benefit of this configuration is that it is virtually impossible to tangle, even at high currents.


Usediedit's the easiest option for most people, as you can buy some at your local store. Sardines, goat fish, menhaden or cigar fish, all do the trick. The key is to let the bait sink like a dead fish.

Compared to dead bait, you fish with itbe aliveit may look like a cheat code. It takes more effort initially, but it pays off in packs, especially when you're after bigger fish. If you want to learn how to catch your own live bait, check outthis guide.

Finally, you can uselures🇧🇷 The sportsman's favorite lures come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Using them requires a little more skill, but is arguably the most rewarding way to fish. If you want to learn more about fishing lures,This articleincludes many different varieties out there.

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rods and reels

Choosing the right combination for bottom fishing often comes down to choosing the right rod and reel. Of course, things can vary wildly depending on what you're trying to catch and where, but here are some rules of thumb.

If you are fishing close to shore, alight swivel comboit is the best choice. For most anglers, aup to 6-7'it's a good choice if you don't play very far. Longer rods allow you to cast further, but are not as robust as shorter rods. To find out which fishing rod is ideal for your needs,Check out our in-depth guide.

As for reels, it comes down to - you guessed it - where and how you want to fish.spinning reelsare a great choice when bottom fishing from a pier. On the other hand, if you need to make a long and precise cast, theBaitcasterit is a better option. If you want to know more about choosing a fishing reel, be sure to read ourdetailed article on the topic.

How to make bottom fish

With that, let's cover the real "how to" of bottom fishing. As we mentioned before, the way you fish can be very different depending on where you actually wet the line. Fishing from the bottom of a pier is not the same as fishing from the waves. And fishing from a boat is a whole different world.

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But this is no reason to overdo it. Each approach brings its own set of challenges and emotions. Let's go through some tried and tested techniques and helpful tips for each.

from a boat

If you're used to fishing from a boat, you know that nothing affects your position in the water as much as the current. Current is especially important for bottom anglers who need to stay close to structure to find a consistent bite.

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With that in mind, there are basically two ways to bottom fish: anchor your vessel or drift.


Anchoring your boat can be a great way to utilize a single productive point underwater. Some anglers like to use a double anchor system where doubling the anchors provides extra reliability against strong currents. The downside to this approach is that it takes time to set up and can easily scare off fish that are underneath.

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It is much easier to keep the boat stable in shallow water, but even there currents can play an important role. Nowadays, modern trolling motors allow you to fix a specific position in the water. More importantly, they're much quieter than an anchor, allowing you to sneak up on unsuspecting fish with deadly accuracy.

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In terms of presentation, dead bait is the obvious choice for most anglers. Dead fish are not good swimmers, so it makes sense to use them when the boat is not moving.

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Of course, you can also use live bait, but it must be positioned upstream of the structure. This allows your bait fish to swim naturally to the boat. You also want to make sure you use a proper sinker and a relatively long leader. The Sliding Sinker and Spreader Rigs will serve you well in these situations.

The operation

Ideal for covering larger areas of structure, drifting is an extremely effective bottom fishing technique. As the boat moves with the current, drifting works very well in combination with live bait.

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If you are in shallow water, aim the cast at the current. This gives your lure plenty of "soak time" before the boat catches up with it. The trick here is to let the thread wind just enough to compensate for the deviation, but not let it go slack.

do surf

If you've ever fished in the surf or on a riverbank, the first thing you should do is check the structure of the bottom in front of you. This doesn't necessarily have as much to do with catching fish as it does with maintaining your equipment. Not paying attention to grassy or rough bottoms can make the smallest lake look like Loch Ness.

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But if you get your casting technique right, you'll be able to cover an impressive amount of structure when fishing this way. If you are fishing on sandy bottoms, just throw it out and let your gear hit the bottom. Wait 10-15 seconds, then slowly roll a few turns. To increase your chances of success, opt for spreading equipment.

from a pier

For deep-sea fishermen, fishing from a pier is the opposite of fishing from waves, even if you're fishing in the same waters. There are two reasons. Number one, you present your bait vertically. Instead of making long casts, you just want to get your gear down where you want it.

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Secondly, this is a more passive way of fishing. Once you've created your presentation, all you have to do is unload the line and wait. You can even set up two rods for the full Pier Rat experience, as long as your local pier allows it. When playing from a pier, aim for nearby pilings or other structures.

pro tip: When fishing on a rocky bottom, use a lighter weight test line for your sinker. That way, you can still retrieve the rest of your gear if it gets stuck.

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Bottomg Fishing: A world of possibilities

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Bottom fishing offers endless possibilities and is the preferred technique of countless anglers. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, this technique will inspire you and allow you to learn more with each release. Even better, bottom fishing will always be a whole new experience with every new location you explore.Chesapeake Bay, hunt theFlorida Key, or even experience the tropical reefsMaldives, this will be your preferred technique.

And now let's hear from you. What is your favorite bottom fishing method? Do you have specific platforms or tactics you like to use? Share your stories, tips and tricks in the comments below.


What line is best for bottom fishing? ›

Fluorocarbon: Gives good feedback, and is the best choice for bottom fishing in clear water. It's very resistant, too, which makes it ideal for fishing around rocky bottoms.

What is the perfect flounder rod? ›

The best tackle for flounder is a 7 foot medium heavy rod coupled with a 3500 series spinning reel. You will want to spool your reel with 20 pound braided line and a 20 pound clear or pink mono filament leader.

Does sinker go above or below hook? ›

A sinker is a weight attached to your fishing line about 6 - 10 inches above the hook. It forces a hook with bait to sink and keeps your bait down near the lake or river bottom, where most fish swim. For most shore fishing, pinch on one or two small split-shot sinkers on your line. Use only enough to sink the bait.

What size rod for bottom fishing? ›

Trolling and Bottomfishing

The ultimate boat rod is 6 1/2 or 7 feet. A longer rod is easier to work around the boat, while a shorter rod offers more lifting power. The best boat rods bend well into the middle of the blank for greater shock absorption.

How much weight should I use for bottom fishing? ›

Bottom Fishing Basics. Start off by rigging 10- to 20-pound class spinning gear with a simple two-arm top-and-bottom rig, and add enough weight to keep the rig on bottom. Depending on conditions and depth, one to four ounces should get the job done.

Do you anchor when deep-sea fishing? ›

Anchoring in great depths is definitely a specialized form of fishing. With the right gear and a bit of experience, you can anchor with confidence. Just as important, you can retrieve your anchor line and ground tackle with ease.

Should I use a bobber for ocean fishing? ›

If the fish are suspended or the bottom rocky and easily snagged with saltwater shore fishing rigs, look into using floats or bobbers. Then, the trick will be adjusting the depth of the bait until it reaches actively feeding fish. This works great for shorter casts when fishing off a pier or long jetty.

What is the best depth to catch flounder? ›

Flounder congregate in sandy areas in 10- to 15-foot depths just off those reefs. Soak a Sardine: Live sardines with a 1/0 to 3/0 hook, fished with just enough split shot to get them to the bottom, are hard to beat.

What color is best for flounder? ›

The best colors for flounder fishing lures are white and chartreuse and the best lures are listed below. ​The Top Flounder Fishing Lures are: Berkeley Gulp Swimming Mullet or 3" Gulp Shrimp. DOA CAL 3" or 4" Shad with Paddle Tail.

Does a heavier sinker cast further? ›

The short of it a heavier, thicker line will not cast as well as a thinner, lighter line will. So 10-pound line will throw a lure much farther than 20-pound line will. There is less drag on the line in both the guides and in the air.

How far up should a bobber be? ›

Place your bobber 6-12" from your rod tip and make sure your line is not wrapped around your rod. Before you cast, look behind you to be sure no one else is there. Also, check for trees and bushes that can get in your way.

How far does a sinker have to be from a hook? ›

Tie a hook on the end of your fishing line with one of your fishing knots. Pinch one or two small split shot sinkers to your main line about 6-12 inches from the hook to add a bit of weight to your line (this will keep your bait suspended vertically).

Is braided line good for bottom fishing? ›

Braid's sensitivity makes it a great line for working plugs and lures, particularly crank baits or spinner baits that have movement, and for bottom fishing.

What can I use for bottom fishing? ›

Bucktail jigs, spinners and live bait are among some of the best bait for bottom fishing. The dragging motion causes the lure to bounce along, stirring up small clouds of sand or mud.

What is the best line setup for inshore fishing? ›

You want a 15-pound tested braided line. This is a good choice when you're fishing inshore in backwaters or on flats since the line has a thinner diameter and it will let you cast much further, getting more line on the reel.

Is mono or fluoro better for bass fishing? ›

You'll also find that mono serves you well in open water with lures that sport treble hooks, as the stretch allows a fish to “get” the bait. For baits made to sink, dive or suspend in the water column, fluorocarbon is what you want.


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