Lightweight Tackle Tips for Bottomfishing

Deck heavy hitters with these three tips.

I often use lightweight graphite rods, small reels loaded with braided line, and artificial lures when bottomfishing. Compared with heavy, broomstick-stiff outfits, it’s a fun way to fill a sack with California’s abundance of colorful, tasty rockfish in waters ranging to 150 feet deep. Connect with a lingcod — a bully of the reef — and you’ll need a tight drag and all your strength to coax him out of the jagged rocks. But these techniques will work just about anywhere that reef- and wreck-dwellers roam.

Tip Top Tip
Tip a heavy lead-head and plastic grub with a strip of bait for added scent, or pin a squid on a 4- to 6-ounce metal jig, lower it to the bottom, and then reel it up a few cranks.

Clean Sweep
Work the rod with short sweeps, causing the lure to just "tick" the rocks at the lowest point of its travel before fluttering upward, mimicking a panicked baitfish looking to escape.

On the Fall
Bites are often felt as the lure is falling — this is where your attentiveness and the sensitivity afforded by the lightweight tackle come into play. Wind up slack and drive the hook home.