alexct

Keys Bridge light fishing

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Looking for a good cheap, but non U-Stick rod for light (Snapper) fishing from Florida Keys bridges to double as a medium mangrove /flats rod...Have been looking at Five-Star around $50 - Or Berkeley inshore.... Figure that is as good as anything at that level, or any recommendations of better? - Is it really worth jumping up another $50 or more? Would not mind if it makes a difference over time... Ideally looking for up to 1.5-2 oz weight max casting wt if I can - helps pull fish out of cover too. Ideally looking to pair with Spheros SW4000IS since the price can't be beat ... (Or any recommendations beyond that - I am stepping up from a Daiwa BG ..). Thanks in advance for your recommendations and advice...

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I fish a Penn Clash 4k paired to a Penn Squadron rod, 20lb J braid. I have nicer setups but always go to this one. I actually have two of them.

 

Clash on Ebay can be found new for about a buck and a quarter. The Squadron rod is $35 bucks at Wally World. It's an excellent cheap setup. Perfect for snapper. I've hooked and landed small tarpon with it, up to about 50lbs.

 

I like fishing small baitfish for snapper under those bridges. Small pinfish, greenies, mojarras, finger mullet, mud minnows, etc. I generally will fish a knocker rig and drop it behind the pilings as it's the only way to hold bottom when the current is cooking. Shrimp will work too but everything eats shrimp. The grunts and pinfish can blast through a lot of shrimp in no time.

 

I usually hang a chum bag to draw the snapper in. If the pinfish swarm and the water is shallow enough, I'll throw a cast net on the school. If not, I catch them on sabiki rigs tipped with squid. The squid hangs on the hook better than shrimp. Old destroyed gulp baits or fish bites chunks work too. If there are ballyhoo, I'll sabiki those as well.

 

If I'm fishing shrimp I like to Texas rig them with a bullet weight and bead to the hook. I generally catch the biggest snappers at night time. Last spring I got multiple mangroves over 25" with this technique. Got some jumbos flat lining mullet trying to target tarpon.

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I put my money into my reels and for the most part buy the dreaded Ugly Stiks. I do love my Saint Croix sticks and you know its quality when you use them but I just don't catch enough big fish that I worry about rod failure. I know I should turn in my man card because I actually like some of the Ugly Stix rods. 

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Assuming you’re coming from the NE, I’d just grab something cheap from one of the tackle shops down there.  I bought a 7ft Contour (I think?) for snappers, yellow tail, smaller grouper  to use from certain bridges and it was more than sufficient. That rod is now 11 years old and has also seen stripers, blues, fluke, LMB, carp etc...

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Just returned from the keys fishing both the inlets and bridges. Due to space I just brought my 9’ surf rod which worked well for the inlets and was fine on the bridges. Fishing the inlets using 4”paddle tail shad worked well on sea trout and Spanish mackerel where the 9’ rod worked. Also worked well drifting pin fish at night for snook and tarpon.

From the bridges mostly small fish like snapper and porgies during the day.  Bait shops recommend shrimp for these but found cut mullet stayed on the hook better and caught far more fish. On the bridges you will see many cast and set their rod down but found cast it out and most hits are immediate. If no hit then drag it on the bottom couple feet and wait a minute them drag again until hit. Used a size 4 circle hook and caught far more snappers and porgies.

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