How to

Lose Less Fish


Follow a few simple rules and you’ll end up with more fish. KRIS SWERES reports.

FISHING is often likened to an “obsession”. For many keen anglers, work is simply a way to finance lure and tackle purchases and is often described as the time spent between weekend angling trips. Rainy days are seen as chances to empty the entire contents of your tackle box and “re-treble” your ever growing collection of coloured baubles. You spend inordinate amounts of time checking the tides and wind and when you shut your eyes at night you see fish jumping instead of sheep.

Ok, this all might be going a bit far but there is method in the seeming madness of many successful fishermen out there. Anglers who spend the time preparing their gear and being a little “obsessive” are also the guys that tend to land more and bigger fish. While you don’t need to become a complete fishaholic, a few small checks can make all the difference in the success of your day.

Get your knots right
This may sound glaringly obvious but good knots are a vital part of successfully landing fish. Once they are ingrained in your head you can pretty much tie them in the dark (which happens more often than not) and they will add a confidence to your overall fishing. Quite often the most simple of knots will be all you need and 2-3 will usually suffice in the beginning. For lure fishermen, the Double Uni and Albright are great for joining a leader to your main line, be it braid or mono. Finish it with a Lefty’s Loop to connect your lure and you’re pretty much ready to go. For bait fishos you can almost get away with just a Locked Half Blood knot to connect your hooks and terminals; that will pretty much cover most applications. When your confidence in knot tying grows you can try more advanced versions, but early in your fishing career it’s wise to stick to a few to begin with. Take the time to tie them over and over until you are happy that you have memorised them. I’ll often tie the same rig two or three times till I am completely satisfied with the look and strength of the finished knot. If a knot doesn’t look right, chances are it is faulty. Don’t risk fishing with second rate knots. Losing a trophy fish because of a dodgy knot is devastating! A firm but relaxed test pull before fishing will soon see if the knot will hold, and is a good habit to get into. The Fishing World website has links to step by step instructions on knots and is a really good watch.

Get Sharp
The business end of the deal are your hooks and trebles. There are many different brands available these days and each is up to your personal taste and budget, but this is an area where switched-on anglers will choose the best they can get. Opting for chemically sharpened Japanese and European brands can sometimes be the difference between getting a fish in the boat or not. Gamakatsu, Owner, Decoy, VMC, Mustad … the list goes on but stick with these well-known brands and you are doing well. By getting in the habit of running your thumbnail across your hook points to test their “grab factor”, you will start to keep them in top shape. If they slide or feel dull a sharpening stone will bring them back to life.

Rusty hooks are a no-no and bent or broken trebles can equal missed hook-ups. Always select the right hook for the job – hard fighting and/or toothy beasts require heavier gauge hooks or jig heads than smaller, soft-mouthed species, for example. Time spent carefully choosing the correct hooks is worth every second you invest. Hooks are the things that connect you to the fish so you may as well make sure the hooks you use are good ones!
Scratchin’ round
Whether you’re a bait, lure or fly fisherman, you will usually be fishing in places that have some sort of structure. Fishing lines and structure really don’t mix well and the slightest contact on pylons, rocks, ropes, boat hulls and even weed can have devastating results on your line. That’s not even including the damage fish can cause! Big dusky flathead that saw their heads form side to side can annihilate a weakened leader in seconds. Tailor or mackerel will snip even the heaviest leader.

Ensuring your line is in tip-top condition makes a lot of sense. Switched-on tournament anglers religiously rub the last half metre of their leader down to the lure to “feel” the state of it every 20 or so casts. This is a really good habit to get into. I don’t know how many times I have just bumped a rock or piece of timber only to feel a scratchy couple of inches on the end of the leader or just a simple “nick” that will pop under pressure. This is how most bust offs occur. By taking the minute or so it takes to cut off and re-tie you can easily avoid losing that monster that could be just a cast away. There are numerous leader brands to look out but I’ve found Berkley Vanish, Yamatoyo, Platypus and Sunline to be brilliant performers.
Back off
Once you’ve hooked that behemoth the adrenaline and nerves will be kicking in. Let’s face it, this is the reason we love fishing! Providing your hooks, knots and leader have been given a little TLC, chances are you’re going to land that fish. If you’re happy that you have a good, solid hook-set and are away from really nasty structure a good tip is to back your drag down a bit and let the fish tire. The temptation to boat or to even catch a glimpse of colour at this point can be very tempting but by adopting the “old school” method of playing a fish on a slightly lighter drag you will certainly increase your catch rate. Don’t be in a hurry! Easier said than done sometimes, especially when it’s a fish of a lifetime,
but a good deep breath and a little patience will eventually win out. When you finally get colour on your quarry and have it close to the boat remember to leave about a rod’s length of line out and gently steer your fish into an awaiting net. Try not to chase the fish around with the net as this will only end in spooked and lost fish. Also be wary of last minute bursts and don’t rush that final net or gaff shot. If the fish does decide to run, lower your rod and go with its momentum but remember to keep that slight tension on the line at all times. A slow and steady approach is paramount in the last few moments of any fight. Having a mate on board at this time can be a really great help as he/shre can take charge of the net. If all goes to plan you’ll be whoopin’  and hollerin’ with joy! Once that leviathan is safely on board you can then sit back, relax, get your camera clicking and be happy that you’ve done all in your power to land a winner.

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.