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Landing Big Fish


GLF

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I had a day this year where I was 15 for 30. Since that day, I sharpened my hooks, and GREATLY improved my hook to landing ratio. However, I still loose some fish. The biggest fish I have put in my boat so far this year was 14.4lbs. I have lost several fish that were absolute screamers! My hooks are so sharp now, all I have to do is think about hooking something, and its stuck. I run my drags more on the loose side. Dv8oR will vouch for that. I have hooks that sometimes fall out of the fishes mouths when I net them. I had 3 of them fall out in the net this past Sunday. I also notice holes in the fishes mouth where the hook has torn the whole larger. I think this is caused by my drag being to tight, or the spoon acting as a lever across the fishes body, when the fight is on. I am running 20lb test mono. I am thinking I need to lighten my drag up even further.

The more I think about this, the more I realize that most of the screamers I lost are on lead core. I am not sure how much if any lead core stretches.

I am not ready to switch to single point hooks.

How tight does everyone run their drags? Whats the key to getting the big ones in the boat?

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I also have been paying attention to the sharpness of my hooks, and they are sharpened regulary. I like to run my drags on the loose side. The dipsy divers just tight enough to not creep out while trolling. The trouble I am having lately is two of my reels are of poor quality, I have to tighten them too much to keep them from creeping out, by the time I get a fish on they are too tight. I will replace those next year.

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I like to run my drags a bit on the loose side also. The one thing thats helped me this year is sharp hooks and letting the Boys reel the fish in. When the boys reel the fish in, they take there time more than I do. I have most of my fish get off when there in the dipsey set up. Good friend Tim S explained to me to take and loosen your drag before even taking the rod out of the holder. We also took our flies and Snell a single hooks with a treble. It helped but, by far the dipsey still losses the most fish (that could be because it also gets the most hits?)

I have a few lures that I put singles on and, the hook up percentage on them is not as high.

I think losing a few fish keeps it challenging,

Ken.

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I had a day this year where I was 15 for 30. Since that day, I sharpened my hooks, and GREATLY improved my hook to landing ratio. However, I still loose some fish. The biggest fish I have put in my boat so far this year was 14.4lbs. I have lost several fish that were absolute screamers! My hooks are so sharp now, all I have to do is think about hooking something, and its stuck. I run my drags more on the loose side. Dv8oR will vouch for that. I have hooks that sometimes fall out of the fishes mouths when I net them. I had 3 of them fall out in the net this past Sunday. I also notice holes in the fishes mouth where the hook has torn the whole larger. I think this is caused by my drag being to tight, or the spoon acting as a lever across the fishes body, when the fight is on. I am running 20lb test mono. I am thinking I need to lighten my drag up even further.

The more I think about this, the more I realize that most of the screamers I lost are on lead core. I am not sure how much if any lead core stretches.

I am not ready to switch to single point hooks.

How tight does everyone run their drags? Whats the key to getting the big ones in the boat?

Your problem sounds VERY similiar to the problems we had last year, particularly with leadcore. Our issue was very simple; we'd occaisonally pause our reeling. It sounds dumb, but we were in a bad habit of pausing reeling to laugh/smile/try to horse the fish to one side of the boat or another/etc. It's particularly important with leadcore since it's a no-stretch, sinking line that can pull the lure from the fish's mouth.

This year, we began to stay extremely focused on always turning the crank on the reel. If the drag slips, then great; means we're going to have some fun.

We've improved from about a 55-60% landing ratio to over 70% for this year. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but it's mostly hook maintenence on my part(need to pay more attention to sharpening them).

We still have a lot of fish that loose the lure once they are in the net, but that's fine with us!

I run my drags fairly loose. A 10lb fish will pull some line, but not scream line. A 15-16lb fish will scream line, but not for a really extended period of time. About 4 weeks ago, we boated two 18+lbers in a row. One was off the rigger and it pulled roughly half my spool of 20lb test out of my filled Daiwa 47H reel.

This is a good topic! I look forward to hearing what others do to help thier netting ratios. :D

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It seems more logical to me when trolling to leave the drags set fairly firm. The fish hooks itself pretty well with sharp hooks. I sharpen hooks frequently and have found it to increase my catch rate in all kinds of fishing.

Why would you not want the drags firm?

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Why would you not want the drags firm?

What I have found is that the hole in the fishes mouth from the hook gets enlarged with a tight drag. A sharp hook should work its way in no matter how tight the drag is.

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What I have found is that the hole in the fishes mouth from the hook gets enlarged with a tight drag. A sharp hook should work its way in no matter how tight the drag is.

I 100% agree. If I'm going to err, I'd prefer it be on the on the side of a drag a little too light than too tight. If that means the fish runs a little longer, then whoever is fighting the fish just gets a better workout!

Good sharp hooks is deffinately a key to helping solid hook-ups. It's also something I need to do a better job of:rolleyes:

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hey mike i talked to sea-mac today and he seems to think the key to landing big fish is to invite me along but after last sundays tourney i think its better to just let the girls do all the fishing and the guys just drive and net lol :grin:

No No...what I said is the key to getting a big one in your boat is bring you along. Big Difference.

Nailer is right tho kids and women have that gentle touch. Biggest fish on my boat this year was 17.8 pounds caught by a 15 yr. old on his first time out. My nephew and son that are 10-11 have landed quite a few fish over 15 pounds as well this year. Now I just take it as, if it was meant to happen it was meant to happen, kinda thing. No pumping on lead core to as plumkrazy stated.

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I I run my drags more on the loose side. Dv8oR will vouch for that.

Yes I will and actually, from the first time Mike and I fish'd together, I run mine pretty much the same. I never ran them tight, just ran them even looser after fishing with GLF!

We had discussions about it.

Now....

My philosophy! I think even though their quite loose when we grab a "fish on", we still need to tighten them down a little while retreiving. Think this maybe elongates the opening Mike?!??!?!?!?

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The hole can only be caused by movement of the hook in the fish's jaw...right? This would mean a changing amount of pressure on the hook...right? If you're reel has a set drag then the only source of this changing pressure is your rod. (or else the fish is sitting there shaking his head (like a dog with a stuffed animal)

I'd watch the rod tip & keep the same amount of bend in it regardless of the drag setting. If you pump, then reel faster on the downward motion to maintain the same bend or lower your rod slower.

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The hole can only be caused by movement of the hook in the fish's jaw...right? This would mean a changing amount of pressure on the hook...right? If you're reel has a set drag then the only source of this changing pressure is your rod. (or else the fish is sitting there shaking his head (like a dog with a stuffed animal)

We are over looking one aspect. Leverage....When the fish spins, twists, rolls, wraps up in the line, or what ever, its possible the spoon will also act as a lever. Even though your drag is loose, the pressure at the hook caused by the leverage may open the hole.

That being said.....A single hook, which has a longer shank then a treble may have less leverage than a treble hook, and resulting in less lost fish.

Picture this....you have a nice fish hooked in the corner of its mouth. The line is pulling on one side of the fish. The fish changes directions, or rolls, and the spoon goes across its head. Here is where leverage comes into play. With a treble hook, the end of the spoon is next to the body. With a single hook, the end of the spoon will be further away, resulting in less leverage.

I may have just talked myself into switching to single hooks. :P

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We are over looking one aspect. Leverage....When the fish spins, twists, rolls, wraps up in the line, or what ever, its possible the spoon will also act as a lever. Even though your drag is loose, the pressure at the hook caused by the leverage may open the hole.

That being said.....A single hook, which has a longer shank then a treble may have less leverage than a treble hook, and resulting in less lost fish.

Picture this....you have a nice fish hooked in the corner of its mouth. The line is pulling on one side of the fish. The fish changes directions, or rolls, and the spoon goes across its head. Here is where leverage comes into play. With a treble hook, the end of the spoon is next to the body. With a single hook, the end of the spoon will be further away, resulting in less leverage.

I may have just talked myself into switching to single hooks. :P

Very good point, Mike. I had caught a fish this year and we got it into the boat, the spoon was bent! I know the drag would not permit that to happen, so it had to be the way the fish had the lure in his mouth.

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There are so many ways/reasons why you lose fish that you have to address them all.

1) Releases but no hookup.

2) Hooks bent/broken, snap swivels bent etc.

3) Mono line breaks.

4) Knots fail.

5) Jerky drags esecially with wireline or superlines.

6) Poor netting job.

7) Poor job fighting fish including horseing fish in, not keeping it out of other lines or downrigger cables, giving slack, etc.

Things you should always do:

Sharp hooks

Quality hooks, snap swivels.

Quality reels with good drags. Maintain reels regularly.

Proper netting and fish fish fighting techniques.

Check/replace mono leaders and end of mono line.

Remove end portion of mono line and re-tie snap swivels often.

Check/replace leaders on flys and meat rigs as required.

Properly set drags (app. 1/3 of line test)

Check rod guides and tips for missing or cracked rings.

Other things to consider when you're having a bad day and you know you have all the other reasons covered.

Shorter leads.

Stronger releases.

Troll faster.

Also, there are different opinions on best way to fight the fish or handle the rod. Some say:

Leave the rod in the rod holder and turbo reel to get the slack out before removing from the rod holder.

With lead core/copper, don't pump and reel, do a steady reel.

Don't hold the rod off the back of the boat but rather off the side with the rod parallel to the water.

With regard to trebles vs. singles, that's another big debate. I think the general opinion is that you'll get more hook ups with trebles but with singles you'll lose less fish once they are hooked. I know the Best Chance guys feel strongly that treble hooks will get you more hookups and I don't think anyone can argue with their success. Their logic is that three is better than one.

Good subject. I'm interested in hearing other thoughts.

Joe

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Many thoughts out there on this, here is another.

I prefer to set my drags tight as well. Usually just where you want to set them while fighting a fish. When a fish slams a lure on an in-line board with lot's of leadcore, the line will not be straight to the fish from the start. The planer board pulling the core out to the side creates an angle from the rod tip to the board, and from the board to the lure. On top of this the core itself bows under the water and creates a slack while working it's magic as well. With a properly set drag the fish will begin to pull on the core making it rise up and tighten the bow in the line under the water. The board will pull back and straighten the angle from the board as well, so there is a built in cushion inherent in this set up, regardless of drag setting, and not including line stretch of leaders and backing if any. If anything a loose drag will allow the fish even more slack to roll in the line, or pull the line through the treble hook or hook gap causing breakoffs and foul hooked fish which are a pain to bring in.

Many guys grab a rod immediately when it goes, myself included. One thing I learned walleye fishing is to let the fish pull the board back, and line straighten before even grabbing the rod. If you grab the rod right away, basically you are just bringing the board closer to the boat, and cutting the angle to that fish, creating uneven pressure as the board skips accross the water towards the boat, and not an even pressure like allowing the board to drop back and line straighten under the load of a fish before you bring it in.

Next, big fish have hard mouths. A skin hooked fish is tough to land, but played right, with an even pressure can be landed. Lot's of times the hook pops off in the net when the pressure is released. When a big mouth clamps onto a lure, no matter how hard you pull you cannot set a hook on this fish until it lets go. Having a hook gap as wide a fishes jawbone, and trebles will keep more fish hooked. You may land a better percentage of single hooked fish, but I believe you will hook more fish with trebles.

Lastly when bringing a big fish to the boat for netting, have the driver keep one hand on the throttle. If the fish gets close and makes a mad dash to the side or into the riggers speed up and make the fish come back up behind the boat. Don't wait too long to speed up either, try to stay ahead of what the fish is doing. Once he is up and behind you can net it, but I can't tell you how many big ones have been lost close to the boat. Even if they are coming in deep, or way out to the side, speed up a bit, and wait for the fish to drop back and to the surface before trying to net it.

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I completely agree that a good driver is worth a million bucks when getting a big fish in the box!

That's interesting you let the rod sit in the holder for a while. I never thought of doing this mostly because of the excitment of having a screamer going!

Do you let is sit just when running the cores to let the line straighten out or do you let any rod sit for a couple moments?

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Leverage is an interesting theory. I’m holding a spoon between the pointing & 2nd fingers of my right hand and picturing a fish that is hooked on a spoon in the right side of his mouth (my second finger) such that the line is off to his right and then he reverses direction such that the line and lure are now on his left. The spoon hits his left jaw, (my pointing finger) thus his left jaw becomes a fulcrum. The hook is attached to the spoon with a ring. I just can’t see how this lever action could possibly loosen the hook. It’d drive that hook in deeper.

I’m now thinking that the fish grabbed the spoon, immediately got hooked in his left jaw (my pointing finger) with the lure draped across his mouth to the right (my second finger). Oops, on further thought that’s impossible because the hook point is facing his right jaw.

The only way for any hook to become unhooked is to release the pressure on the hook. Actually, exert pressure or let it free fall opposite to the direction in which it became imbedded. Unless you rip it right through his jaw. (Think about getting a hook out of your finger. No matter which way you pull or twist the spoon body, it’ll make a bloody mess, but it won’t come out)

Another thought - As you’re trolling, the chain formed by the spoon body, ring & hook are taught. If the fish hit the lure directly from the rear, felt the hook in his mouth then moved directly up on the spoon body and clamped down on the spoon body, then there could be some “slack†in the body-ring-hook chain. It would be feasible then that water pressure, from the fish swimming forward or head shaking, against the hook could cause it to loosen regardless of how much drag you have on the line. Carrying that forward if the action was to repeat i.e. left/clamp, right/clamp, left/clamp, the chain could go slack then tight then slack, hence cause pressure changes against the hook and possible enlarge the hole in the fishes jaw…

Okay, you have now officially driven me crazy with this topic so rather than staying up all night thinking about it, I'll stand by my original reply and say just keep your rod bent a goodly amount and the same amount, all the time you have the fish on.

(and use a single hook)

:grin:

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I just can’t see how this lever action could possibly loosen the hook. It’d drive that hook in deeper.

I did not think of the leverage as pulling a hook out. I would think that would bury the hook deeper unless it was in the opposite jaw of the pulling force.

What I was thinking, was the increased pressure from the leverage, opening up the hook opening. After a few more head shakes or what ever, there gets to be some slack in the line, and the hook drops out of the enlarged hole.

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That's interesting you let the rod sit in the holder for a while. I never thought of doing this mostly because of the excitment of having a screamer going!

Do you let is sit just when running the cores to let the line straighten out or do you let any rod sit for a couple moments?

No, I don't let them sit, but I will just grab the rod gently, no jerking it out, and let the board pull back with a big fish. For smaller fish I just hold the rod tip low out the back of the boat and reel steady. We had a lot of fish that swam faster than you can reel and while it felt like the fish was gone, keep reeling and you may find a suprise when it gets closer. Always keep reeling and check things out after a hit.

On my buddies boat trolling Lake Erie in early April for hog walleye, we do not touch the rod until the board stops falling back, that is our signal to grab it. Many times buried, and standing straight up we reel steady, no pumping. He will take away our beer away if we start getting grabby on the rods.:no:

IMO the hook holes open up when a fish is hot and thrashing, and also uneven pressure wears bigger holes. No doubt hard pressure opens them up too. I like to let them finish doing their thing, then turn their heads and keep them coming towards me steadily. Most times If they are not hooked funny they will generally be cooperative about it and swim right along once they tire a bit. Then slip them in the net with one steady action before they even know what happened. By this time they are thrashing in the net on the boat floor. Arms burning from reeling in a core that fast.;)

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At the risk of throwing additional fuel on this burning debate - Wouldn't a treble hook that typically has two of the three hooks imbedded, result in less opening of the hole and more successful landing of fish?

Thanks to all for the helpful info in this debate. As a newcomer I have learned important concepts as a result.

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First I'd like to say this is a great thread. In many areas barbless hooks only rules apply. Line angle and pressure are the only reasons keeping the fish hooked until netted. Barbless hooks also make a smaller hole going in and penetrate easier. They are safer to use and I'm trying a few setups.

Having said that, the majority of my rigs are regular trebles and siwash. For small spoons I like trebles and for bigger lures I prefer single siwash as wide as the spoon itself but not so big as to change lure action. Very few of my spoos are mags.

On Erie my main targets are walleyes and bows. On the riggers, releases on the tight side and load up the rod. With divers, leadcore, braid and inline boards I like a drag on the light side. To prevent reel creep use a pich-pad release to hold the line. Trebles do less damage most of the time allowing for safe release of some small bows while we target walleye.

I guess there is no hard and fast rules just some precautions we can take.

Good luck and tight lines.

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I had a day this year where I was 15 for 30.

Just out of curiousity.....

On that particular day, how many Bassmaster pumping rookies did ya have out with ya???

We don't lose too many together. (Unless the play with the wire on my boat)

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We have had a very high hook up ratio this year I can only think of 3 or four trips without a fish (some have been lost due to my own stupidty) but they rarely come off. I have noticed that one guy I fish with seems to lose more than I do. I'm not sure why. I know I don't really set the hook when I grab the rod I just reel and slowly lift until I feel it pull back than I keep the rod tip up and reel when I can. When they're peeling line or when I can't take any without the drag slipping I just hold em. I feel I get more line twist when I'm reeling and the drag is slipping. sometimes I'll tighten the drag after the first run or two.

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