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Jigging for Mutton Snapper: The Ultimate Guide

Jigging for Mutton Snapper: The Ultimate Guide

Jigging for Mutton Snapper is a great way to target this species and can be loads of fun. They are a small-sized member of the Snapper family but still put up a decent fight. They can be targeted in estuaries, bays, and coastal waters. 

Like most snappers, they prefer a habitat with reef, debris, or structure. Mutton Snappers can reach lengths of 37in (94cm), but this is uncommon. When caught, they usually average around 20in (50cm). Juveniles are known to school, but adults display solitary behavior. Mutton Snappers generally feed on the bottom but are known to feed on the surface at night.

Mutton Snappers have olive-colored backs with beautiful blue stripes on the head. They feature a black spot between the lateral line and dorsal fin.

Author Note: They are a beautiful red on the sides with a light-colored belly. Mutton Snapper are delicious to eat, and there are numerous ways to target them. They can be targeted using live bait, dead bait, and by jigging with artificial lures.

Let’s dive into the best practices for jigging for Mutton Snapper.

Jigging for Mutton Snapper

Jigging for Mutton Snapper is a great way to target this species because jigs are so versatile. Anglers can fish them at almost any depth. If fished slowly, you can target the bottom water column, including reefs and areas with bottom structures. 

This allows you to target most of the predatory bottom feeders. You can slowly drag the jig along the bottom or fish with slow, gentle intermittent twitches and jerks. This results in a calm swimming and feeding action.

A slightly quicker retrieval action (medium-speed) will allow you to target all predatory fish in the middle water column. This can be done by simply retrieving your jig without any action or twitching and jerking to imitate an injured baitfish.

Surface Jigging for Mutton Snapper

Mutton Snapper

Fishermen can also fish jigs just below the surface to target large predators that hunt and feed in the top water column. A rapid and speedy retrieval is needed and can also be done with or without rod action.

The faster you are able to retrieve, the higher your lure will travel through the water, and the higher you hold your rod, the higher your jig will swim in the water. It is recommended to vary the speed and retrieval technique constantly.

Author Note: When the bite is on, pay attention to where your lure is being attacked and look out for patterns. Some days the Snapper might be feeding in the middle column and on the bottom the next.

Another great feature of jigs is their aerodynamic design and weighted bodies. The aerodynamic design significantly reduces drag in the air, combined with the weighted body offers exceptional long-casting capabilities. This will allow you to fish a much larger body of water and ultimately catch more fish, particularly in windy or poor fishing conditions.

How Hard is Jigging?

There is a downside to jigging, but it is something any fisherman can overcome. Jigging can be lots of hard work, especially if there aren’t any fish around. Catching a nice Snapper always seems to give you extra energy and helps you forget about the pain.

But just like with any sport, the more you do it, the easier it gets. If jigging for Mutton Snapper (or any other type of saltwater species) is something that interests you, you must understand that casting and retrieving a weighted jig 200-300 times (maybe more) in a day requires a massive amount of energy. You will be using muscles that aren’t used to working so hard, and you will feel it.

Vertical Jigging vs. Horizontal Jigging for Mutton Snapper

When jigging for Mutton Snapper, there are two methods you can try. The first is vertical jigging and would require you to anchor your boat over rock or coral reef.

Drop your jig overboard until you reach the desired depth. Mutton Snapper can be found at depths of between 25-90m (80-300ft) but are generally located around the 40-70m (130-230ft) mark.

Once you have reached your depth, retrieve your lure with strong jerks as quickly as you can. The fast retrieval will help the Snapper to commit to ensure the possible meal doesn’t get away. The second method is horizontal jigging, and you can do this from a boat, pier, or even the shore.

Cast your jig towards the reef and allow it to sink to the bottom column, retrieve rapidly while simultaneously twitching your rod tip to create some action. Because you have cast your jig away from you, it will come back horizontally when you retrieve it.

Work all the areas that you can access and constantly vary your retrieval speed and twitching action. This technique also works well for Opah, Tripletail, and Skipjack.

Best Jigging Reels for Mutton Snapper

One Bass Saltwater Jigging Fishing Reel

This One Bass Saltwater Jigging Fishing Reel is a fantastic reel that will stand up to big fish. It is made from quality materials and is built to last. The reel has shiny silver and gold inserts. It offers a right-hand orientation. The One Bass Saltwater Jigging reel features a superior carbon fiber drag system which offers up to 20kg (45lb) of smooth drag and durability.

The Easy Access Thumb Bar Spool Release is extremely convenient and comfortable.

The frame and spool is professionally CNC machined from aircraft aluminum. The handle is made from premium aluminum, and the complete unit only weighs 25oz. This quality reel offers 14 stainless steel ball bearings plus an additional roller bearing.

This set-up provides a seriously smooth retrieve. The stainless steel is corrosion resistant to withstand saltwater fishing for many years. When fishing in saltwater conditions, it is recommended that you clean your reel with clean, fresh water and add lubrication to the internal working components after each session.

This will prevent premature corrosion from the elements and also ensure that your investment gives you many years of catching quality fish.

Best Jigging Rod for Mutton Snapper

Shimano Trevala Saltwater Jigging Rod

Shimano has produced another great rod in the TREVALA Saltwater Jigging Rod. This rod is perfect for targeting Mutton Snapper and numerous other types of saltwater fish. It is offered in a 5’8″ and has been cleverly designed to be used with the beautiful Shimano Butterfly Jig.

Anglers can use this rod with high power and high-speed reels. The butt is made from high carbon and is married to a TC4 Tip. This new blank design offers increased sensitivity with less weight.

It offers optimal response with an incredible recovery rate. The Shimano TREVALA Saltwater Jigging Rod is reinforced with Fuji Aluminum oxide guides, which is diamond polished for a super smooth finish. They offer extreme durability, better heat dissipation, and corrosion resistance.

It also features comfortable EVA foam rubber grips with a split grip style for offshore fishing. These premium grips are comfortable and perform really well, even in wet fishing conditions. It is recommended that you rinse your rod with clean fresh water after each session. This will prevent corrosion on your rod guides where rust is notorious for collecting.

Best Jigging Fishing Line for Mutton Snapper

In theory, any type of fishing line can be used when jigging for Mutton Snapper, and it might just come down to personal preference. In each case, a 1.5m (5ft) 20lb monofilament shock leader is recommended.

This is an excellent option for a leader because it is strong, offers a fair amount of stretch to absorb shock, and is barely visible when in the water.

Author Note: A braided line is a good option as a mainline and offers a direct feeling when hooked to a Snapper. It is super strong with virtually no line memory. It is super thin, so you can spool more line and offers long-lasting capabilities.

One downside to braided line is that it is extremely susceptible to wind knots and crows nests.

Fluorocarbon fishing line is also a good option when jigging for Mutton Snapper. It is super strong and virtually invisible underwater. When compared to braided line, the casting distance is reduced, line memory is increased, and less line can be spooled.

Mutton Snapper are delicious to eat and offer a decent fight for their size. They can be targeted using live bait, dead bait, or artificial lures. Mutton Snapper can be found in coastal waters, bays, and estuaries.

They have the ability to achieve lengths of 94cm (37in) but are usually around 50cm (20in) in length.

They inhabit reef and rocky environments with an abundance of debris and cover. This species had an olive-colored back with red sides. They feature a distinct black dot between the dorsal fin and lateral line. Adults are solitary, while juveniles are known to school.

Deep sea fishing, jigging


Jigging for Mutton Snapper can be loads of fun and is a great way to target this species. Whether you are jigging vertically or horizontally, the key is a rapid and speedy retrieval to get the Mutton Snapper to commit to your lure. Jigs are extremely versatile and allow you to fish all of the water columns and target almost any type of saltwater species.

 A slow retrieval will allow you to fish the bottom, reef, and structure. While doing this, offer a few gentle twitches and jerks with your rod tip.

A medium-speed retrieval will give you access to the middle water column where predatory fish actively pursue their prey. A rapid and fast retrieval will keep your jig in the top water column. 

The faster you retrieve, the higher your jig will swim. Jigs also feature aerodynamic and weighted bodies, which results in incredible long-casting capabilities. They are made from quality silver or lead and will stand up to big fish with sharp teeth.

Jigs also offer excellent corrosion resistance and are perfect for saltwater fishing.

If you want to learn about other lures you can use, check out our guide on the best lures for Mutton Snapper. And if you catch a fish, be sure to check out our recipes for cooking Mutton Snapper.

Happy Hunting!


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