The beauty of most snapper and grouper is they can all be duped by artificials, especially in shallower water. Along the southwest coast of Florida, a great many grouper fall victim to diving plugs and bucktail jigs. There are even quite a few caught on fly. However, the single best way to catch snapper and grouper is by dropping a flutter jig into their home.
In the right hands, flutter jigs will outfish live bait for a couple of reasons: First, a streamlined flutter jig cuts through the current and sinks fast. Second, unless you break off a fish in a fight, you are not getting your hook picked clean, as happens with natural bait. This especially important in 200-plus-feet of water, because it takes a great deal of time to reel 4 pounds of weight from the depths to rebait.
For a limit of snapper, both live and cut bait work well, fished on a bucktail jig. However, if you are after a big old sow snapper, stick with the bottom-drop rig with a medium-size bait. This eliminates the chance of a smaller fish grabbing the bait. The only problem is the amberjack, which like to swim with snapper, love to pound a live blue runner or pinfish. Honestly, it’s not a bad problem to have.
When you're fishing for smaller lane, vermilion and gray snapper, don’t discount a live shrimp. This delectable bait can be really tough to beat, provided you’re able to get it to the bottom without a trigger or angelfish stealing it. And don’t forget that a heavier weight can sometimes mean all the difference when seeking out the various snappers that prowl Gulf rigs and rocks.