Avoiding Snagged Lures: Largemouth Bass Tackle and Techniques
By Ben Team
No matter how many fish you are hauling out of the water, snagging your lure on a branch or rock can quickly ruin your mood. Aside from the five or ten bucks you lose every time this happens, snags force you to cut your line and tie on a new lure, thereby ruining your rhythm.
You can avoid lure snags entirely by fishing out in open water, where sunken timber, weeds and rocks are absent, but this also a great way to avoid the bass. The fact of the matter is, largemouth bass love cover and cover snags lures.
Sound technique can help keep your lure out of trouble, but smart lure and gear selection provide a bit of extra insurance. While you cannot completely avoid the occasional snag, you can reduce how often it happens by using the techniques and tackle suggestions listed below.
Keep in mind that snags don’t only occur below the surface – trees, bushes and boat docks snag lures too. Avoiding lure snags requires you to account for all of your lure’s travels, from the tip of your rod, through the air, into the water and back to the boat (or shore). While some above-water snags are easier to retrieve than those occurring underwater, the sheer volume of irretrievable tackle hanging near popular fishing holes serves as a cautionary tale.
- It sounds ridiculously simple, but you must assess the area and plan your casts before you let your lure fly. This will help you avoid the insanely frustrating, snagged-on-the-first-cast-of-the-day phenomenon. After looking for obvious snag-hazards above the water, take a moment to analyze the potential for underwater hazards and make plans to avoid them.
- Your first few casts of the day are the most likely ones to fly off in unintended (occasionally even unexpected) directions. Send a few casts into open water before attempting surgical lure placement near high-risk cover.
- As much as is possible, cast parallel with vegetation lines. This decreases your likelihood of snagged lures and allows you to retrieve your lure along the edge of the vegetation – thereby keeping it in the bass’ strike range longer.
- Learn to “thumb the spool” when using baitcasting reels. This way, when you see your lure is about to overshoot the target area, you can stop it on a dime and let it fall.
- Practice flipping and pitching until you can gently drop the lure in the water with precision. By having sniper-like control over your lure, you can fish right next to the gnarliest cover, without snaring sticks or stumps.
- Learn to cast from a variety of angles, so you can avoid obstacles. For example, you may need to cast sidearm to avoid clipping overhanging trees. Alternatively, you may need to cast with an overhand motion to slip your lure in between two rows of weeds.
- If the primary obstacles are along the bottom of the lake or river, try to keep your lure safely above them during the retrieve. You can accomplish this by elevating your rod tip or reeling a little more quickly during the retrieve.
- Downsize your rod when working in and around heavy cover. Long rods help you to cast farther and control fish more effectively, but this comes at the expense of accuracy. Small rods won’t launch your lure half way across the reservoir, but they will allow you to hit your target more easily. They are also easier to maneuver when fishing along the banks of tree-lined ponds.
- When heavy cover is unavoidable, stick to lures that are unlikely to become snagged. Keep your crankbaits and suspending baits in the tackle box, and tie on spinnerbaits or jigs.
- Bury the exposed hook tip of your Texas-rigged worms, lizards and creature baits to keep them weedless. “Pegging” the nose weight – jamming a toothpick in the eyelet – so that it remains attached to the worm will also help you avoid snags.
- When rigging plastics wacky style, opt for hooks with attached weed guards. You can also swap out the treble hooks on your other lures for those with guards to keep your lure weedless.
- Discriminate between the different types of things that may snag your lure and adjust your gear accordingly. For example, wood cover causes lures to snag via the hook, whereas rocks tend to snag lures that slip into the crevices – the hook is rarely the problem. Accordingly, use lures with weed guards around organic cover, but use lures that won’t fall into crevices (such as crankbaits) over rocky cover.
- Whenever you switch lures – particularly when you change the lure weight – cast the lure into the open water a few times to get a feel for it and ensure your rod and reel are adjusted properly.
We hope these tips help keep you snag free. Be sure to share any tips of your own in the comments below.