Bottom-bouncing is a very effective fall fishing technique, but nlike many other striper techniques used on the Chesapeake, bottom bouncing requires some pretty specific gear. You’ll need 6’ to 6’6” long heavy action fiberglass rods. Yup, those old “broomsticks” have a purpose. You need their stiff tips and thick backbones to handle the wire line and heavy weight used for this technique. Reels should be conventional levelwinders, like the Penn General Purpose Levelwind. Senators will work, but it’s easier to get kinks and bends in the line if you don’t have thelevelwind feature.
by Lenny Rudow
Your reels should be spooled with monel. Steel and superbraid lines will both work, but not as effectively. The monel cuts the water well and makes it easier to keep your line on bottom, it doesn’t rust, and it won’t cut into the spool if you hook bottom, as some superbraids will. Terminal tackle starts with a triple swivel, on the end of your main line. One of the two remaining eyes of the swivel needs a three-foot dropper line, which should be relatively light mono; 20-lb. test works well. Use heavier line for the dropper and if the weight snags bottom, you’ll lose the entire rig. But the 20-lb. test will break off before your main line does, saving your lures and swivels. Tie a six to ten ounce dipsy or bank sinker to the end of the dropper line; the exact size depends on the depth you’re fishing. In 20’ to 25’ six will usually do the trick; in 25’ to 30’ you’ll need to go to eight ounces, and deeper means even more lead.
The third eye of the dropper is for your leader; in this case it should be a long one, no less than 15’ long. Many old-timers use 20’ or even 25’ leaders. To the end of the leader, tie on a relatively small bucktail. The leadhead should be between one half ounce and one ounce, and the lure should be a three or four inch model. Chartreuse, white, and yellow are the old stand-by hair colors.
Dress out the bucktail by adding a trailer. Traditionalists will either use pork rind or lip-hook an extra-large bull minnow on the bucktail. More modern anglers may use a plastic twister tail or a shad tail instead. All will work, but in my experience the bull minnow or a four-inch twister tail work best. On the flip side of the coin, these both require constant attention to keep in good shape, whereas a pork rind can be used over and over trip after trip and even the bluefish will have trouble ripping it up.
Rig up right, and bottom-bouncing is a fill-the-cooler technique. So get those broomsticks out, and reach for the triple swivels—you can’t “fake it” when rigging up for bottom-bouncing.
You can find more specific Atlantic coast, bay and ocean hotspots and how-to/where-to fishing information in Rudow’s Guide to Fishing the Mid Atlantic. It features 38 custom-marked charts which detail over 300 hotspots from New York to North Carolina and includes chapters on specific game fish, tackle, tactics, and techniques for coastal bay, inlet, and blue water fishing. Geared Up Publication’s newest book, Offshore Pursuit (by professional mate John Unkart,) a hard-core how-to offshore book, is also now available. Check them by clicking here