5 Shortcuts For Catching Snook In Florida

By: Luke Simonds on September 17, 2015
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snook fishing tips

When growing up in central Florida as a bass addict, I never thought I’d ever find a fish that was more enjoyable to pursue than a bass.

However, that quickly changed when I caught my first snook… which I concluded was essentially a bass on steroids that lives salt water.

Not only do the two species fight very similar (lots of jumps, headshakes, and aggressive runs), but they also have very similar feeding patterns.

But after years of pursuing both species while living in central Florida, I moved to the coast 12 years ago and have been completely addicted to inshore fishing for snook, redfish, and trout ever since.

And of the inshore species, snook are my primary focus due to the fact that they keep me connected to my bass fishing techniques learned while growing up and they just so happen to be excellent fighters and great table fare too.

best braid to leader knot

After receiving many questions about how to catch snook since launching Salt Strong, I thought an article like this that highlights important shortcuts to catching snook in Florida would be helpful for many saltwater anglers to increase the amount of snook caught per hour of fishing.

Here Are The 5 Helpful Tips for How To Catch Snook That We’ll Cover In This Post:

  1. Discover how to assess an area for feeding snook
  2. Live bait is not a requirement
  3. Use the right gear for the conditions
  4. Fancy boats are not a requirement
  5. Don’t be afraid of fishing in the dark…

Top 6 Snook Fishing Mistakes…

Are you making one of these?

Click here to find out your #1 Snook Skunk Factor

Here are all five:

1. Discover How to Assess An Area For Feeding Snook

how to catch snook

This is by far the most important shortcut of all, and it’s what causes most anglers to come home empty-handed… or nothing more than a measly catfish, which many believe are even worse than catching nothing at all.

To be able to consistently catch snook, it is absolutely essential to be able to quickly assess an area for it potential to be a feeding ground.

Without this knowledge, an angler will waste tons of time fishing in spots that have very little chance of success.

Fortunately, finding good snook feeding areas is not rocket science and doesn’t require a sixth sense…

In fact, you’ll be way ahead of the game if you simply focus on these 3 simple things:

  1. Current
  2. Structure
  3. Bait

Yes, these three simple and easy to distinguish variables will significantly help you find good areas to catch snook… even in regions that you’ve never even been to.


Snook are ambush predators that prefer to stay still and pounce on an unsuspecting prey, and current significantly helps them get more food with less effort… so they most often hang around areas that have current (kinda like how we humans get lazy at times knowing that we can simply go to a drive thru lane for food).


Just like most ambush-oriented species, snook prefer to hang around structure. And since they’re in the middle of the food chain, they like structure for two reasons…

  1. Feeding station – Just as snook seek protection from larger predators by hanging near structure, well many of the smaller fish that snook feed upon do the exact same thing.
  2. Protection from predators – Yes, even the big snook can fall prey to a bigger and faster predator… most notoriously dolphin which like them about as much as we do (click below to see a dolphin outwit a big snook along a shoreline).

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If one could read a snook’s mind, my guess is that it is focused on only two overall objectives…

  1. Where can I find food?
  2. How do I not get eaten by something else?

And since food is a top thought for these snook, you better believe that they most often hold close to a food source…

So when you don’t see any signs of baitfish in an area that you’re fishing (ripples/splashes on the water, small pecks at your lure/bait, etc.), it’s typically a good idea to move on to another spot.

And to consistently find snook, it’s best to seek out spots that have ALL 3 of the listed items… current, structure, AND bait.

2. Live Bait Is NOT A Requirement

how to catch snook

Although the TV shows most often feature guides using live bait for snook, it most certainly is not required.

I do most of my snook fishing with artificial lures throughout the year because it frees up a ton of time and energy in having to catch live bait.

In fact, we made a decision to ONLY fish with artificial lures when filming the Salt Strong music video called “Fishing In Our Soul” since our core online training course focuses on catching slams with artificial lures…

And the pressure was on because we only had 2 half days to film in an area none of us had been to in a couple months, and we really needed to get a ~20 lb snook…

And you’ll never guess where we caught the big snook shown at the 1:03 mark…

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Yep, it was caught from a spot with structure, current, AND bait.

It was a flat with an oyster bar and many potholes near it (both forms of structure) that had plenty of current (max outgoing) with lots of bait on it (mullet, ballyhoo, pinfish, glass minnows, and whitebait).

All it takes is matching the right lure to the right spot… and since we already covered the spot (current + structure+ bait), now we just have to have a lure based on different combinations of those structures.

Which leads right into shortcut #2… gear recommendations.

3. Use the Right Gear For The Conditions

how to catch snook

As stated earlier, catching snook can be done with using either artificial lures or live bait.

And it’s very important to match our gear to both the type of lure/bait we’re using as well as the area we’re fishing.

For example, it would not be practical to use a 30 lb leader on 10 lb main line to fish for snook in an inlet like Sebastian Inlet that has extremely strong current with lots of structure (too light to pull a big fish against the flow around rocks).

But it would also not be practical to use a 40 lb main line with 60+ lb leader while trying to catch a big snook on artificial lure up on a big grass flat with slow current because it would significantly hinder casting performance and it would make it tough to effectively work the bait to draw a strike.

So the lesson is… Match gear for the Conditions.

Best Fishing Line for Snook

Here’s a quick list of conditions I often fish with the respective line sizes that I typically use:

  1. Open grass flat with slow current: 10-15 lb braid with 30-40 lb leader
  2. Mangrove line or docks with slow/medium current: 15-20 lb braid with 40-50lb leader
  3. Fast-moving current with structure: 30-40 lb braid with 50-80 lb leader

Note: Click here to see exactly how to tie a leader system for snook.

Best Bait for Snook

A snook’s feeding pattern, of course, fluctuates throughout the year and even throughout the day in many cases…

The best way to determine what bait is best to use is simply using whatever is most prevalent in the area you’re fishing at the time.

For example, we hosted a wounded warrior from TX down in southwest FL in March and we found a spot with good current, structure, and ton of pinfish… so we knew that the snook were honed in on pinfish allowing for us to easily make a fun how-to video that included a snook catch.

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However, selecting the ideal live bait for snook isn’t always that easy to determine so it’s often best to catch a few different types to see which one gets the most action.

Here’s a quick like of good baits for snook:

  • Pilchards
  • Shrimp
  • Pinfish
  • Pigfish
  • Croakers (Atlantic)
  • Grunts
  • Mullet
  • Ladyfish
  • Ballyhoo

Any of these are great options, and it’s best to match hook size to the size of the bait being used… small bait like a shrimp will require a much smaller hook compared to a hog leg mullet.

Live Bait Tip: Hook your baits toward their nose if the current is ripping so they appear to be swimming naturally when getting pulled through the water, and hook baits towards the tail when fishing light current so you can direct the fish to swim away from you towards the structure by simply pulling on the line (see example below for a live mullet).

Note: Make sure to use circle hooks when live bait fishing for snook because they will help keep out-of-slot fish from getting injured.how to rig a mulletBest Lures for Snook

I like to simplify lure selection by categorizing options based on the holding depth the snook are holding (and I’ll just carry one or two per category to keep me focused on the most important aspects… feeding depth and presentation style).

Here are the best lures for snook by depth category:

  • Shallow Depth (under 2 ft. of water) – Topwater plugs, soft plastic jerk baits, and hard plastic suspending twitch baits
  • Mid Depth (2 ft. to 5 ft.) – Jigs, bucktails, swim baits, and small lipped crankbaits
  • Deep (5 ft.+) – Heavier jigs/bucktails, swim baits, and large lipped crankbaits

Note: My absolute favorite way to catch snook is on a hand-made jig… click here to learn how to make your own bucktail jigs using items that you may already have.

Best Snook Rod and Reel

There are an enormous amount of options for rods these days… and it can certainly be mind-blowing for many anglers and certainly cannot be answered in a short post…

So I recommend going to a local tackle shop or two to have a local help you out if you’re confused.

But here are the two questions should be considered:

  1. Will you be fishing heavy or light current?
  2. Will you be using live bait or artificial lures?

If you feel that you’re answers are towards the first two options (heavy current and live bait), then getting a strong rod/reel with heavier line is probably the best bet.

But if you’ll more likely be fishing light current with artificial lures (my personal favorite), then it’s necessary to use lighter lines with sensitive rods that allow for better presentations and feel of the lure.

4. Fancy Boats Are NOT Required

how to catch snook

One of the most common excuses I hear on why people don’t fish very often is that they would go frequently if only they had a boat… or a nicer kayak… or anything other than simply walking along the shore or paddling to a nearby mangrove line.

For example, here’s a short video showing a slot sized snook caught from my beat up paddleboard during a lunch break:

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Beach Fishing for Snook

A simple walk along a beach on either coast in central to south FL can be a tremendous opportunity to catch snook from spring all the way until the end of fall (and some spots near inlets/passes can be productive in the winter).

Best of all, snook are most often cruising right along the edge of the shoreline so there is often many sight fishing opportunities to enjoy.

When beach fishing, be sure to keep in mind that snook will most often be facing into the current, so you’ll want to cast up the beach into the current so your presentation will be coming towards the snook because that’s the same direction that they’re expecting natural prey to be coming from.

And my recommendation for catching snook quickly is to use a small white jig with a red head because it works great and will save a ton of time and hassle compared to live bait fishing…

Click here to read a post about my favorite beach lure for snook.

Beach Fishing Tips: Beach fishing for snook is best right after the goes up and right before it goes back down. The biggest snook seem to get right up along the shoreline at high tide, and will venture a bit further out as the water drops. And make sure to take note of any underwater structure or even the slightest change in elevation of the shoreline because even the smallest of features can be a great feeding zone.

Paddle Fishing for Snook

Given how easy it is to store, transport, and maintain a kayak or paddleboard compared to a flats boat, paddle fishing has exploded over the past 10+ years.

And it isn’t just their comparatively low costs… kayaks and paddleboards are actually extremely effective in catching many snook given how quiet they are along with the fact that they can go anywhere.

Best of all, they present an opportunity to effectively fish when time is very limited. In fact, I used to often go before and/or after work when in the corporate world… and now frequently go on long lunch breaks when the weather is too good to resist.

Here’s a quick video showing the added adventure that paddle fishing can bring to the table…

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5. Don’t Be Afraid To Fish In The Dark

snook fishing at night

Although snook most certainly feed during the day, they are designed for feeding at night.

The fact that they have large eyes that sit way up on their heads with that very distinguished lateral line along its body that can sense movement in the water makes them tremendous predators at night.

And one of the most popular ways to target snook at night is by fishing around dock or bridge lights where snook congregate to pounce on the many baitfish and crustaceans that get attracted to the light.

For fishing lights at night, my absolute favorite live bait is a live ballyhoo… even the most pressured snook most often won’t turn that down.

Also, any of the live baits mentioned above can work great too.

For artificials, it can be a bit more difficult because at times because the popularity of this type of snook fishing means that they have likely seen every lure known to man multiple times.

So my tip here is to make sure to cast up current and try some retrieves that are way faster than what you normally do because this will often trigger a reaction-based bite.

Important Note: Make sure you’re very familiar with the area during the day before venturing out at night and be sure to check all lights and safety equipment before going out.


Snook fishing can be an incredibly fun and rewarding excursion if done properly.

And as you saw above, the ability to catch snook in Florida doesn’t require a fancy boat or any kind of sixth sense that only fishing guides possess…

All you need to focus on when in search for snook are the 3 simple core features:

  1. Current
  2. Structure
  3. Bait

And then be sure to match your gear to the area your fishing along with the type of bait/lure you plan to use and know that you can have a good chance of landing a nice snook even if you only have a short amount of free time by simply getting out on the beach either early in the morning or late in the evening with a light rod/reel and a trusted jig.

Note: If you’re interested in being able to consistently catch quality slams of redfish, snook, and trout, then be sure to check out our Insider Fishing Club because it is guaranteed to produce results for you…

Not only do we guarantee that you’ll be catching more inshore slams than ever before, but we guarantee that you’ll be able to save a lot of money on tackle by the group discounts the club gets now that it is over 12,000 members.

Click here to learn more

Related Posts:

1. The #1 Reason Anglers Aren’t Consistently Catching Snook

2. This Is What Can Happen When Fishing For Snook On A 3rd Floor Balcony

3. The Best Tides For Snook, Redfish, & Seatrout

4. How To Rig A Live Pinfish For Snook

Related Courses:

1. How To Catch More Snook In Less Time… Guaranteed!

2. How To Catch Inshore Slams (Snook, Redfish, & Seatrout) Without Needing Live Bait

P.S. – If you think your friends or fishing network would enjoy this post, please Tag them or Share this with them. It would mean a lot to me.

Top 6 Snook Fishing Mistakes…

Are you making one of these?

Click here to find out your #1 Snook Skunk Factor

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Val Douis
29 days ago

Spent the morning in the surf with live mullet 7 to 10” using a 3/0 Circle hook tied with a loop knot on 30 ,b fluro carbon with a 1 ounce egg sinker sliding free above hook to keep bait deep and outside of the break with a heavy northern current. 4 baits cut off 3 times by spinner sharks as I had them on for a short while and 1 scaled mullet as I didn’t allow enough time for hook set. Question, I’d like to add a small section of wire and wondering if it will affect snook and tarpon bite?

2 months ago

Awesome! Thanks for the info!

Hazel Jenkins
Hazel Jenkins
3 months ago

Really very helpful content and helpful video. thank you for sharing with us. Also Read

John Mitchell
4 months ago

Hi Luke, I know it’s an old video but I enjoy watching all of them. Just curious in the video where you show how to rig a pinfish for snook and you were wading was that Placida at the railroad tracks? If so I grew up down there with my grandparents we fish the railroad tracks from a boat for many many years and caught some of the biggest snook I’ve ever seen in my life thanks for sharing the video.

Shaun Simmons
1 year ago

Where is this hidden lake in St. Pete!?

David Rideout
1 year ago

That’s an awesome video of that dolphin taking that snook!! I never dreamed that a dolphin would take such a big fish!!

Rich Fiorentino
2 years ago

Luke – great video. One thing I have been meaning to ask you for quite a while. I belong to a boat club, so have no access to a trolling motor. I usually fish from a skiff or bay boat.Have you ever considered doing a short course on inshore fishing from a skiff? Of course I don’t know haw many Insiders have the same issue, but it sure would be helpful to me. It might be valuable to include on your database of members how each one fishes: shore, wading, kayak, boat with trolling motor, no trolling motor, pier, etc.

Tom Watts
2 years ago

Great Snook videos. Show exactly what and By Tom Naples

Brett Husebye
Brett Husebye
2 years ago

I used to go with my dad fishing the backbay of Fort Myers beach. I could catch MONSTER pinfish off the end of Andremar in the boat channel off the seawall with a 202 zebco full line out each cast with a number 8 hook. He took me out a couple of times and the pinfish are too slow to fish. Sure you can catch a snook with one but getting them to bite one of those mouthful of pins is rough. They were better for Sharks which were chasing those monster pinfish around Sanibel bridge. My dad and I would freefloat shrimp, he also used a Golden Eye Maverick lure which pulled in many of these monsters mostly off the end of Doctor Whites dock.

He would give them away to friends rather than clean them. Just hook the shrimp through the mouth missing the spine with a number 6 hook. Im not too sure on the hook size since last looking at a snook setup but 20 pound test is needed. He also would not fish at just one dock with a light, he would fish at MANY docks in one morning or night when the tide was right. This is where making friends gets you more fish and always ask when you scope a spot out with a light. Make sure you ask people in the daytime and leave them a message when your on their property. This increased his chances of catching a big one and if you catch one quit and go to the next dock. Also the people who own the docks with lights deserve some of those fish if they want them 😉

He owned low profile bass boat at one time and the biggest fish off the boat were Tarpon making off with our line and pinfish at San Carlos pass. A shark I caught there as well, acting like a rock. Some monsters off the first Sanibel bridge and sneaking around with our boat under the Fort Myers Beach shrimp packing building/dock, the place had so many hogs under it, the place was scary. Oh and one giant slimy green sailcat my dad said I could not put in his boat, he told me to flip my rod up and down quick and that 40 pound sailcat fell off dripping slime down my line and swimming back off into the tide to find his gooey hiding spot again.

Oh and I almost forgot the killer water moccasin that was coming towards our boat and my stepmother screaming like a girl save the children and my dad looked at her in disgust as he flipped his bait at it and it decided to run off! ITS COMING FOR YOU!

2 years ago
Reply to  Brett Husebye

Thats why you use a castnet

2 years ago

Back in the late 60’s, fished off of newpass bridge in sarasota. The only lights were small at the draw. Moving closer to the shore line, I hung a lantern over the bridge about 2 feet above the water. The light attracted shiners which swam around the light in a circle. The snook would feed through the lighted area eating the shiners. Some people would use rings or small rectangular nets to catch the shines to use for bait. Basically snook are somewhat blinded by the light and only see the bright flashes on the shiners. Based on this, I used a 1/4 inch treble hook which I lowered about 10 feet below the water. As the snook would feed, I would slowly pull the treble hook up through the light and because it reflected the light brighter than the shiners, the snook would actually bite the treble hook. Using this method, I had no problem catching my legal size and limit of snook for the night. Back then the size was 18 inches and the limit was four. Kept my freezer full of snook to eat. Snook, the prime rib, filet migon of fish meat.

2 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Please let me know how you make out. New Pass Bridge was famous for people using lanterns to lure the shiners for the snook to feed on. Some nights there would be no place to hang another lantern. I would just have to wait for people to leave so I could have a spot. As each person would pull his lantern up, the shiners moved to the next lantern, so on and so on, until I was the only lantern left and I had all the shiners swimming around the circle of light. Some nights, so thick, you would think you could walk on them. If your lantern went out or you pulled it up, the snook would go wild trying to eat the shiners before they scattered. Thank you for your reply and good luck.

2 years ago
Reply to  buddylea

Just to add another thought. When the moon was full, too much light in the water to attract the shiners. Plus, the snook would only feed on incoming tides when there was very little moon or no moon.

2 years ago

I fish in the canals in fort Myers and I catch a lot of snook and I was trolling today and caught a 40 inch snook

2 years ago

If fishing a spoon, can you tie the swivel at the end of your leader and attach spoon to swivel with a ring or is it best to tie swivel between main line and leader? Thanks!

2 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Thanks for the response…yeah I’m sure ideally, it makes more sense to put the swivel between the main line and the leader

Hector D
3 years ago

I just joined your newsletter and really appreciate all the info on your site. I recently purchased a home in Jupiter, FL on a canal with a very mild current, 120′ dock on one side and mangroves on the other with 4.5 feet at high tide and 2.5 at low tide. Installed a green snook light and have drawn in the baitfish, snapper and about 3 snook consistently. The mullet come in during the run and the Jack occasionally come in and corner them and feed. The problem is I have yet to catch my first snook even as I cast into the shadow of the light. I plan on adjusting my gear to your recommendation and adding braid to the reel. Do you recommend chumming or adding bait balls to draw more fish in? Thanks in advance.

3 years ago
Reply to  Hector D

The 3″ X-Rap from Rapala in purple gold color works pretty well for us in north palm beach. We usually fish the lights around PGA near the bridge over the intracoastal. It also works at the bridge going to jupiter island near the lighthouse. We reel it in at a medium speed casting outside the light and bringing it through the light.

William Flynn
3 years ago

Super discussion! A must read for all those wishing to become great snook fishermen!

Kenneth Gladman
Kenneth Gladman
3 years ago

I really appreciate the information and videos. It looks like an absolute blast and you caught quite some nice fish. I would love to get out with my boys this year. Do you recommend live bait or lures for beginners?

3 years ago

Great info here that you provided and thanks! Do you have a charter fishing service that may have a snook fishing class on location? If not,this could be very lucrative while you are fishing as well. What town in Florida are you located? Hope to meet up one day for an on the water snook fishing seminar. All The Best,Len

3 years ago

How can I download the song?

4 years ago

I am going fishing for the first time this weekend with my friends and, even though I am not experienced, I really want to catch a big fish. I really found this post encouraging and informative and so I am probably going to head over to the bait shop to get some mullet and glass minnows soon so that I can catch some snook. Also, I’m really glad that you went into great detail about the different types of lures that should be used, because I hadn’t realized that the type of lure would depend on how deep the water was.

Faylinn Byrne
Faylinn Byrne
4 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Thank you!

Paul Hickman
4 years ago

How do you rig a plastic for topwater and are Gulps capable of staying on top

4 years ago

Really enjoyed the article. Being from Canada and a freshwater fishing fanatic, I was in the Clearwater area last March and, on my last day there, caught several snook along the shore on Sand Key. I will be back again this year and can’t wait to do battle once again with this magnificent fish. Your tips will be put to good use. Go Jays Go!!!

Garica Ward
Garica Ward
4 years ago

The Snook has a most distinctive body shape. Such fishes love to hang around bridge and pier pilings, or any kind of snag. Knowing about the characteristics of fishes make fishing more perfect.

Marlene chang
4 years ago

Thanks Luke and Joe the easiest instructions I have ever followed you guy’s ROCK ! FISH ON !!

4 years ago

I have never caught a american snook in my life as i don’t live in america the snook we get look like mini baracuta but they are definitely on my bucket list.

Drei Stroman
4 years ago

Very good article Luke. Do guys do anything with fly?

Thomas Cook
4 years ago

Great article, I love fishing artificial baits. One of my favorites is a bladed swimjig (chaterbait) with a fluke trailer. For snook, it works great day, and night.