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Snapper of the Rocks

By Alex Bellisimo

I am going to go briefly into distance casting for snapper off the ocean rocks. Distance casting meaning casting out sinker weights from 3 to 5 oz maximum, and getting you're baits out a long way. Generally a 40-100m cast is necessary. Snapper are more commonly caught on our inshore and offshore reefs by the boat anglers. 

The vast majority of landbased anglers rarely catch snapper, and rarely specifically target them from the shore. Don’t let this rarity deter you because snapper can be caught of rocks, you just need to be quite specific in how you go about it. Here are a few tips for the angler that wants to get their red fix off the rocks.

Recommended Outfits


A rod suitable for distance casting should be in excess of 3.6 to 4.6m at least. or 12 to 15 foot in length. Suitable for sinker weights from 3 to 5 oz or 84 to 142 gms. Here are a couple i recommend. 

* Daiwa Sensor Sandstorm 1202HFS- 366cm, 2-piece, 7-15kg (suitable for 3 to 5oz sinkers) 

* Daiwa Sensor Surf 153S- 457cm, 3-piece, 10-20kg  (suitable for 4 to 6oz sinkers) 


A reel suitable for distance casting should be able to hold a minimum of 300m of 30lb J-Braid Grand or 250m+ of 25lb J-Thread Nylon. I normally prefer braid as the no stretch factor and smaller line diameter allows you to cast further. 

* Daiwa 4500BG (holds enough line to do the job) 

* Daiwa Windcast 6000 (long spool and holds more line) 


I use mono or flurocarbon leader and I like to use approximately 4 to 8m of leader for abrasion resistance and as a shock leader. You can use a lot shorter (2-4m) if you like.

* J-Thread fluorocarbon leader in the 30 to 40lb ( has reduced visibility and is very tough) 

* J-Thread Nylon in the 30 to 40lb (a super tough nylon)

Hooks, swivels and soft bead:

Hook size I recommend is a 2/0 minimum or preferably a 3/0 in the octopus or suicide type and 2x strong as you are dealing with a strong jawed fish especially when they exceed the 50cm size up. Small preferably dark swivels in the 30kg to 60kg size is preferred. A green bead on top of the swivel is also a great addition. 

Basic rig

Slide sinker on to the leader, then the soft small bead, then tie your swivel on. Then tie on 45 to 70cm of 30-40lb leader, followed by your hook. There are many more types of rigs but this works a treat for me. 

What To Look For

Please take into account that it is mandatory to wear a life jacket when rock fishing most of Sydney’s rocks. I recommend the Hobie  L 50 PFD. Steel spike boots or stretch on spikes over your sneakers help with your footing, while a high vis rain coat, or preferably fish with someone will help make you visible and safer than fishing solo. I could write a lot of important advice other than this but this is the very raw basics. 

When you approach a headland being either deep water or shallow water what you need to search for is the correct ocean topography. When standing up on a high (6 plus metres) ledge or above water level during moderate or larger swell size you will notice when looking out the darker water and the lighter coloured water. That can often be the reef being the dark patch and the lighter being the sand. Cast out on to the sand area only a few metres past the reef. Snapper like to reside and feed near the sand and reef edge.

When fishing in flatter sea conditions it is harder to visually find the sand. At this time you will have to be prepared to lose a few rigs to find out where the sand patches are. Choose areas where the waves are still thick as that indicates deep water. A peaking and breaking wave indicates shallower water, and it’s these areas that you want to avoid.


Fresh is the best when it comes to bait with salted slimey mackerel, bonito, tailor, and yellowtail strips gun snapper baits. Cephalopods such as squid, cuttlefish strips and a skinned octopus leg are also great options.

Time to Fish

Like many species low and high tide periods are peak bite times, as a low light periods such as early morning and late afternoon. 

I hope you enjoyed my basic rundown on snapper fishing off the rocks. Please never forget that rock fishing is a dangerous sport. Good luck, be safe and if you’re not sure, go for the safest option.


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