Easiest Way To Rig Pinfish For Snapper (And Other Offshore Species)
Note: This very popular post on how to rig pinfish for snapper was originally published on August 31, 2020. But since then, we’ve had TONS of very helpful info added to the comments, so be sure to read the comments section too. Enjoy!
Want to see an easy way to rig pinfish for mangrove snapper?
Most people use a knocker rig or Carolina rig, which are great rigs, but there’s actually an easier way to rig them that works really well.
This rig doesn’t need any weights, beads, or swivels and it’s really quick to tie.
I was recently out fishing in the Keys and we caught loads of big mangrove snapper on this simple rig, as well as some grouper and mutton snapper.
This rig worked with both live pinfish and pinfish chunks and would also work for any other baitfish, as well as baits like shrimp and squid.
Check it out below.
Rigging Pinfish For Snapper [VIDEO]
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How To Rig Pinfish On A Jig Head For Snapper
To rig pinfish for snapper and other bottom feeders, all you need is a flat-bottomed jig head, such as a boxing glove-shaped jig head.
This takes the need for a weight and beads away, and you don’t need a swivel, so there are fewer knots to tie (which means fewer opportunities for a fish to break you off).
Just tie the jig head to the end of the leader and you’re ready to go!
Now, why a boxing glove-shaped jig head?
Because they sit upright on the bottom, which keeps your pinfish looking natural.
Other jigs that we love for rigging soft plastics on don’t have a flat bottom, so they fall over to the side.
As far as actually hooking the fish, be sure to put the hook under the chin and out through the tough cartilage above the lips.
This will keep the jig head and pinfish upright, as well as keep the pinfish secure on the hook.
If you’re hooking a chunk of bait, hook the chunk through a side or corner so that it’s streamlined and doesn’t helicopter through the water (which can tangle or twist your line).
Now that your pinfish is all ready to go, it’s time to catch some fish!
How To Catch Snapper When Using A Jig Head
When you’re letting your bait sit on the bottom, you’re going to be feeling a lot of taps.
It can be tempting to try to set the hook every time, but if you do that, you’ll miss fish.
Instead, you want to wait for the thump.
You’ll know when you have a thump vs. a tap because it’s a lot heavier.
A tap is smaller fish pecking at it, but a thump is when a bigger fish grabs it, so set the hook then.
One final note: this type of rig is not meant to be used in every situation.
The jig head is obviously a j hook and there are some reefs where j hooks are not allowed, so do your research before you go out to see what’s allowed and what’s not.
Also, j hooks are best for actively fishing, like we were here.
We were waiting on the bite and then setting the hook as soon as we felt the thump.
If you’re letting your rods sit in the rod holders, or you’re fishing with children or inexperienced fishermen, then you’re better off going with a rig that uses a circle hook.
Instead of tying complicated bottom fishing rigs, hooking a pinfish on a jig head is an easy and effective way to catch snapper.
You’re less likely to get your line tangled up because the weight is at the very end of the line.
Plus, if you use flat-bottom jig heads like the Mission Fishin jig heads then your bait will stay upright.
You can get the Mission Fishin jig heads from our tackle store here.
Have any questions about rigging pinfish for snapper?
Let us know down in the comments.
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And thanks to Two Conchs Charters for putting us on these fish!
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Oh Luke you didn’t mention what knot you used. Was it a loop knot? Trilene or Palomar for example.
A loop knot has a slight advantage because it enables a bit more freedom of motion for the jig. I typically use the non-slip loop knot.
Any thoughts on how this would work for red/black drum under docks or likely ambush points?
Last year I fished with some pinfish that I had caught on a smaller swimbait (Z-Man Slim Swimz). On a whim I threw the pinfish (cut) out on a hook with a split shot and I was surprised at how aggressive the hits were by reds.
This type of jig should work pretty good for that type of fishing too. I normally prefer to freeline pinfish (rig consists of just a hook with not weight) when fishing inshore because the do a good job at swimming down to the bottom without the need of added weight in most cases as long as the current isn’t strong and it’s less than 10 ft deep.
Thanks for the insight! Going to give it a whirl the next time a hook into a pin fish.
since I can’t find the mission fishin circle hook jig heads, do you think i knocher gig would work?
why not carry circle hook mission fishin jig heads in you store?
What weight is the jig head?
I’m curious about the jig weight as well.
If you “HAD” to use a circle hook, would that work for this rig or j-hook only?
Yes, the circle hook version of this should work just fine… just make sure to not set the hook like a j-hook. Instead, just reel once feeling the thump so that the circle hook can more slowly slide into its rightful place in the corner of the fish’s mouth.
Thanks for the info!
How about the pros and cons of using “Hog-balls” which is a football shaped jig rigged with a swivel J or circle hook. It would seem the swivel hook would allow a little more movement of the bait while keeping it pinned to the bottom,
Those can certainly work too… perhaps even better. I personally like jig heads because they enable me to quickly slide on a soft plastic paddletail to cast at a cobia, mackerel, or any other fish that comes up to the boat while bottom fishing.
Great video! I gotta ask the question that’s as old as time, do you prefer a certain color of jig head?
I don’t think it matters very much for bottom fishing… I’ve used a variety (white, yellow, red, and gold flash), and they all seem to work just fine.
I would imagine Bottom Sweeper Jigs would work well for this too. Specifically designed for sheepshead, but we’ve had tons of action at the jetties and reefs with them. Same premise of keeping the bait upright. We’ve used shrimp, crabs and cut bait. Why I never thought to try a live pinfish is beyond me!
Yes. They have the same premise so the results should be similar.
Could you use something like this if you were surf fishing to target a specific fish?
For surf fishing, you’ll most likely be better off using a pyramid sinker so that you can hold your position through the surf and/or current. Here’s what I recommend for surf fishing: https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/best-surf-fishing-rig/