© St. Petersburg Times, published February 3, 2002
Big-lipped crank baits are taking more than their share of large grouper from Tampa Bay and hard bottom in 20-30 feet of water. Downriggers and planers aren't necessary when using deep-diving plugs, most of which will dive 20-30 feet.
The depth you reach depends on the diameter and make of the line. With monofilament you need at least 50-pound line to pull grouper off rocks. But mono is thicker than braided lines and causes lures to run shallow.
Some braided lines provide 80 pounds of power with the diameter of 20-pound mono. These thinner lines cause less drag through the water. A plug built to dive to 20 feet on mono can reach 30-35 with braided line.
Mono leaders work well, but they keep the plug from diving to its deepest point. Wire in the 40-pound range will cut through the water better and allow the plug to dive deeper, but wire isn't good in clear water.
Plugs that run close to the bottom draw the most strikes. If your plug runs off to the side or flips out of the water, you'll need to tune it. Using pliers, straighten the tuning hook. If it still runs to the side, turn the tuner hook the other way. The tuning hook is under the ring to which you tie the leader.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.