Rigging for trout fishing on our Natural North Florida grass flats needn’t be hard or complicated. I do recommend light rods and reels for the “main event” of seatrout catching. 2500 to 4000 class spinning outfits are just fine, and I’m a real believer in using braided polypropylene lines like PowerPro or SpiderWire. You don’t need more than 10-pound test line, but I recommend you learn to tie a short section of almost-invisible 20-pound test fluorocarbon onto the end of your running line. I don’t use complicated knots and NEVER use swivels. A simple double surgeon’s knot, lubed with spit, works just fine to join the leader to your braided line. At the end of the leader, I’ve been using 50-pound Tactical Angler Clips that make changing hooks, lure and jigs easier. But in addition to at least one light rod and reel for each angler, I also recommend a heavier rig in the 20-pound class (5000 reel and stiff 8-fooot rod rigged with 20-pound line and 50-pound leader) kept rigged and ready just in case a curious cobia or wayward tarpon swims within casting distance of your drifting boat. At the end of the leader, tie on a rubber eel. Eels are “candy” to both cobia and tarpon and having a rod just waiting will give you a good chance at the fight of a lifetime!
Live shrimp, white bait, and pinfish are all good baits to use for seatrout on the flats, but I prefer the simplicity of either D.O.A. CAL shad tails on ¼-oz. jig heads, D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp or MirrOlure MirrOdines. All can be cast easily and slowly retrieved towards the boat. If you fish these baits, be sure to keep them just above the grass tops and pay special attention to white sand patches. Trout like to hide out along the edges of sand patches, from where they ambush unwary baits. If you’re not interested in lots of casting, or you have folks aboard who are novices, consider rigging the CAL jig or D.O.A. shrimp under a popping cork. Just be sure to give the cork a quick “snap” every 30 seconds or so, as the noise will draw trout towards your bait. And, of course, you can use live shrimp, pinfish, Gulp! shrimp, or white bait under corks or free-lined onto the grass flats, but that can be a costly exercise due to lizardfish, ladyfish, and bigger pinfish or grunts. Artificials ARE cheaper in the long run!