6 Snook Fishing Tips: How to Catch Snook

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Catching snooks is unlike regular fishing because you’re going after sly, ambush predators that rule the salt water troughs.  

There’s a chance you won’t see a single snook for the entire day, especially during the winter months.  

Snooks also feed during specific hours and hang out in different depths of the sea. For a novice angler, reeling in a large snook the first time around is pretty rare!  

If you stocked up your tackle box with all sorts of lures but haven’t had any luck, we’re here with some smart snook fishing tips for the average fisherman.  

Did you know that you’re more likely to catch a big snook in the nighttime than during the day? Keep reading for more tips on catching snooks this fall!  

What Is the Best Bait for Catching Snook?  

Crabs, shrimps, or small fish are the best bait for snooks. As with most inshore species, you can catch large snooks with topwater lures. Snooks love pinfish, sardines, small mullets, and greenbacks. But their number-one choice is usually crustaceans like small crabs and shrimps.   

To make bait fishing more effective, reach the fishing spot a couple of hours ahead and catch some live bait. Considering snooks are super lazy, you might not have to put in the effort after all! Soft plastic baits are great options for shallow depths, usually two feet or under.  

Snook bite on grunts, live pilchards, and snappers. The bottom line is- you can use any live or dead bait for snooks. You’ll be surprised to see their appetite! However, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can always go for synthetic baits.   

Is this your first time catching snooks? Here’s our fishing cheat sheet approved by a Floridan angler himself! 

The best bait for snook is:

  • Pink shrimp  
  • Finger Mullet  
  • Pin Fish  
  • Pilchards  
  • Atlantic Croakers  
  • Snappers   
  • Ballyhoo  
  • Ladyfish   
  • Grunts 
  • Sardines   
  • Red Minnows  

A Simple Guide to the Best Lures for Fishing Snook   

To sight fish in the snook hiding spots, it’s good to use different baits and lures. The 3-inch paddle tails are arguably the best lures for snooks. However, fishing for snook in deeper water can be easily done with a 1-½ ounce hawk jig.  

There’s nothing like soft plastic lures for attracting the biggest snook your way! Snooks also like shiny lures that imitate the scales on smaller fish. In that case, you can use a twitch bait like Mirrordine or a jerk bait from Stick Shadd. 

Popular lures for slob snooks include bucktail jigs, gold spoons, and colorful plastic baits. We often fish for snook in the summertime and use dead bait. If you’ve tried this tactic before and failed, here’s how you can improve your snook fishing tackle asap!  

Best Lures for Snook Depth-wise:

Depth Category Suitable Lures 
Shallow water (Under 2 ft. deep) Hard plastic twitch baits, soft plastic jerk baits, Topwater plugs  
Mid depth (2-5 ft. deep)  Small-lipped crankbaits, swim baits, and bucktails  
Deep (More than 5 ft. deep)  Bucktails, swim baits, heavy jigs, large-lipped crankbaits  

Need more tips on rigging a live bait for snook? Our friends at Coastal Angler Mag have plenty regarding surf fishing for snook.  

Your Must-Have Gear for Catching Snook  

Snooks are predatory fish. They don’t give in without a fight. While fishing for snook in strong currents, use a 30lb. braided line with a 60lb. line leader. Topwater fishing in light current calls for a lighter line with sensitive fishing rods.  

Even in beach fishing, a good presentation can help you catch a big snook. When you’re kayak fishing in the inlets, you need to choose your fishing line wisely.  

Do you want to catch a dozen snook along with the Florida Keys? Great! We’ve put together a little list of fishing gear for different sight fishing and paddle fishing conditions.  

Suitable Fishing Lines for Snook   

  1. Open grass flats with slow-moving current: 10-15lb. braided line with 30lb. leader 
  1. Docks with slow to medium current and mangroves: 15-20lb. braided line with 40lb. leader  
  1. Fast-moving currents and inlets with structures: 30-40lb. braided line with 50lb. leader 

The best tip for surf fishing is to match your gear to the baits—most fish feed in moving water, including largemouth bass, trout, and snooks. Cast your line so that the lure moves toward the snooks, not away from them in the current.  

Tips on How to Catch Snook Easily  

As a beginner, you might have difficulty finding the snook population in the surf. More often than not, snook hide behind underwater structures and oyster bars. Or, they swim together a few feet from the shoreline.  

Places with Medium Current Are Good Feeding Spots for Snooks.  

There are different ways to fish for snook from your kayak and the shore. It’s time we told you where to look for snooks and how to catch a big one. Keep reading!  

  1. Inshore Fishing is Your Best Bet  

From July to August, baitfish move into shallow water, and big snooks come following them. During this time, snooks will also feed on red minnows. It makes the perfect premise for sight fishing.  

Hit and stir the sand with your fly rod. It will help you cast to snook cruising close to the beach. Snooks can’t stand cold temperatures, so fishing for them in warm seasons will be more productive.  

Does that mean you can’t catch fish in winter? You sure can! Bouncing a rubber jig with circle hooks will help you catch winter snook and a variety of other fish.  

  1. Go for Fishing in Spring or Fall  

Most anglers are keen to catch snook during the snook fishing seasons. For a kayak angler, it’s easier to target snook that hangs around jetties, bridge pilings, and sea walls.  

Places Accessible by a Flats Boat Make Excellent Fishing Spots for Snook.  

Most anglers don’t bother taking their flats boats out when it’s easy to catch big fish off of the troughs.  

The recreational fishing season in Florida has already started!  

From the first day of September, the open season is expected to last all the way through fall. So, grab your snook permit and head out for the Everglades! 

  1. Choose Your Fishing Spot Wisely  

Beach fishing is more effective than kayak fishing when it comes to snooks.  And what do you know, you might catch a trophy snook from the shallow flats near Marco Island!  

Most snook locations are under Florida’s Atlantic Coast, making it easy for novice anglers to shoot their shots. Find a portion of the beach that is free from sunbathers.  

Snooks prefer low salinity in the water, so fishing in a spot where freshwater meets saltwater is something seasoned anglers do but will never admit to doing.   

  1. Search for Feeding Snook in the Troughs  

Snook is a versatile fish species that will alternatively hang out in freshwater and the troughs. As a half saltwater and half freshwater species, snooks are never far from the sea when there’s current. 

You can find them on the gulf coast near freshwater swimming after a jumbo shrimp or a threadfin herring.   

Large snooks are adventurous by nature and will follow lights. So, fishing near bridge lights and docks can give you an advantage no matter what bait you’re using.  

  1. Cast Your Line Two Hours Before High Tide  

Snooks will often feed during the night or a couple of hours around dusk and dawn. The time before the high tide is when snooks search for prey in saltwater. If you’re fishing snook on the east coast, the rising sun will be in your face.  

The moment after sun-up is usually the prime time to catch trophy fish in every other region. Stay on guard because snooks don’t give you a lot of time to set the hook.  

  1. Set Your Hook in Time and Prepare for Battle  

Once you feel a big snook pulling on your line, quickly hoist the rod back up in the air at a 45-degree angle. To avoid losing your fish to a loose line, lower the rod occasionally and keep reeling to minimize tension in the fishing line.  

A snook caught on artificial lures is a sign that your fly fishing game has reached a new height or that you know how to rig a topwater lure like a pro.    

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Can you fish snook off of the beach? 

Yes, you can fish for snook from the beach with live bait or an artificial lure. Targeting snook with a bucktail jig is an excellent way to catch the big ones. Fly anglers use topwater baits and cast to the many snook fishing locations along the east coast. 

  1. What size reel is suitable for inshore fishing?  

For saltwater fishing, the 40 spinning reel is the optimal size. It’s got enough strength to reel in 25lbs. fish from 5-foot-deep waters. Pair your 4000 series reel with a 7′ medium to a heavy fishing rod. You’ll need about 15lbs of drag in the reel for catching snooks.   

  1. How to hook live baits for snooks? 

Hook live baits towards their nose when fishing in heavy current and towards their tail when fishing in slow current. Large fish like snooks face the current because that’s the direction they think small fish will be coming from. 

Rounding Up  

You can use a fish finder for catching big fish. But nothing feels more rewarding than sight-casting to a nice snook based entirely on your insights!  

Looking in shallow waters for snook right after sunset is how we do it. We hope you liked our snook fishing tips and gear suggestions. Hit us up if you have more questions about snook fishing. All the best!  


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid angler. He has fished all over the world, primarily for Saltwater game fish but also for local prize fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Tyrnos for an overhead reel or a Shimano Curado for a baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.