BlogSeptember 2018

Tautog Fishing Tips: Where to Go & What to Use

Tautog Fishing Tips: Where to Go & What to Use

By Debbie Hanson

Sep 26, 2018

List of tautog fishing tips that apply to gear, where to go, when to fish for tautog. Tautog fishing techniques you can use to catch this Mid-Atlantic species

Photo credit Earl Evans

Tautog fishing tips are often in demand by anglers who fish along the Northeast coast since this species is known to be a particularly finicky feeder. "Tog" or blackfish, as they are often called, have a tendency to crush baits and spit them back out before the angler has a chance to get a solid hookset. Although, try fishing for tautog and you're likely to find that the thrill of bringing one to the boat will have you hopping back aboard for an encore trip.

How to Catch Tautog

If you want to learn how to fish for tautog, keep a few important tips in mind to increase your chances of success. 
  • Know that tautog prefer cooler water temperatures. Fall and spring are the two best seasons of the year to catch tautog in the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Focus on fishing wrecks and rocky bottom between 20 to 30 miles off the coast from New Jersey through Massachusetts. They generally remain in waters that are less than 60 feet deep.
  • One of the most important tautog fishing tips to remember is that feeding peaks at dawn and dusk. This species is inactive at night.
  • Tautog fishing techniques often focus on fishing with green crabs or jigging on the bottom with bucktail jigs around rock piles, ledges or mussel beds.
  • You can use a 6 to 6 1/2-foot rod and conventional reel spooled with 30 to 40-pound-test braided fishing line if possible. Braid is more sensitive than monofilament, which will make it easier to detect bites.
  • If fishing with natural bait, such as green crabs, you can use a swivel to attach a few feet of 50-pound monofilament. Rig your sinker at the end of the monofilament using a surgeon's loop knot, and then use a dropper loop about 7 to 8 inches above to attach a separate 2-foot strand of mono with a 4/0 hook.
  • When fishing with bucktail jigs, attach about three feet of 20 to 40-pound test fluorocarbon leader using a barrel swivel.

Now that you know more about tautog fishing techniques, check the current regulations for this species and try your luck at landing your very first tautog.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.