I have failed to land my share of big fish of many species -
including bass - although in my experience, bass are not particularly
resourceful or powerful fighters for their size. They like to
jump, bulldog, and dive for cover, but they do not make long-distance
runs. They tire quickly, and the aggressive angler can usually
overpower them. We should never lose a well-hooked and
aggressively fought bass.
But we do.
Every time I've hooked and failed to land a big bass, it's been
the result of my own carelessness. If he got loose by wrapping
the leader around a stub or the anchor line or tangling himself in
the weeds, it's because I did not assert myself aggressively
enough. If the hook pulled free, I did not set it firmly.
Well, most of us don't get enough practice fighting really big fish,
and those things happen.
But there are other reasons for losing fish that are inexcusable.
Believe me, I know.
- Bad knots. There's nothing more disheartening than
to have your line abruptly go slack in the middle of fighting a large
fish, then to reel in and find your bug gone and a pigtail at the end
of your tippet. No well-tied Trilene, improved clinch, or other
standard angling knot should pull loose. Only badly tied knots
fail. Tie them carefully, lubricate them with spit before pulling
them tight, and leave a little stub when you clip the end. Test your
knots regularly. Pay equal attention to the knots that join your
tippet to the leader and your leader to the line. Don't hesitate to
retie dubious knots.
- Bad hooks. Check the bend and point of your hook
periodically. Keep a file [hook hone] handy for touching up the point and keeping
it needle-sharp. If you cast aggressively, as you should, your bug will
bounce off a rock, dock, or log now and then, which can dull or bend
the point and prevent a solid hookup. If you hook a log, tugging to
pull your bug free could open the bend of the hook enough to weaken
it and let a bass slip free. Once a hook is bent, it's permanently weakened,
so rather than trying to bend it back, discard that bug and tie on a new
- Bad tippet. Encounters with toothy fish like pickerel
and pike, a worm or scored tiptop rod guide, and even general
wear and tear can create nicked or frayed spots on your tippet,
converting 10-pound test into ten-ounce. "Wind knots" (overhand
knots that are usually caused by a messed-up cast, not the wind)
severely weaken a tippet. Run your tippet between your finger-tips
or, even better, between your lips now and then, and if you feel
a nick or wind knot, retie it. It takes only a moment, and tippet
material is a lot easier to come by than five-pound bass.
~ William G. Tapply
Check out the book this excerpt comes from, it's right