John Mallette said most fishermen don’t think of it this way, but his grouper rig begins 30 feet above the hook. He likes to fish using 80-pound superbraid, but he adds a 30-foot topshot of 130-pound monofilament for the end of the line for abrasion resistance.
He said if a grouper “holes up” in a rock with ragged edges, the odds are pretty good it will chafe the braid until it breaks and the fish escapes. The 130-pound mono is much more abrasion resistant and often holds together long enough to work a grouper out of a rock.
Mallette slides a large, luminous bead on the topshot and ties it to a 5/0 3-way swivel. The bead prevents excited fishermen from reeling the swivel through the tip guide and chipping or breaking the guide. This eye of the swivel will become the top eye for the rig.
An 18-inch section of 130-pound mono ties to the middle eye and extends to a 8/0 Gamakatsu 209418 4X strong Octopus Circle Hook. Regulations require using a circle hook, and this is a wide-gap style with a high-hookup ratio. Mallette said if the grouper are acting finicky, to make the leader longer; this allows fish to pick up and chew the bait without feeling resistance from the sinker.
The lower eye is for attaching the sinker. Mallette uses a piece of 30- to 50-pound mono tied to the bottom eye with a 3- to 5-inch loop to attach a bank sinker. The loop allows the sinker to easily be switched to lighter weight for shallow water and/or less current or more weight for deeper water and/or more current. This line is lighter, so it will break off — not the whole rig — if the sinker hangs up. Mallette prefers to fish a 10- or 12-ounce sinker so even subtle bites can be easily felt, but he said heavier sinkers will be required when the current is strong.