Losing fishing lures is both frustrating and expensive. Unfortunately few enough of use pay attention to the methods we can use to limit the number of lost lures in our hurry to get onto the water and start casting. We have highlighted some of the actions you can take to help you keep hold of that expensive fishing gear in this article.
It is possible to reduce the frequency of lost fishing lures both before and during fishing. Fishing lures are expensive, by being aware of your surroundings, using appropriate rigs, acquiring local knowledge, speeding up line retrieval and using lure retrievers you can limit the number of lost fishing lures.
We will look at steps you can take before your first cast, during lure fishing and what to do if you do hit a snag. None of these are fool proof but they will help reduce the number of lost fishing lures. We finish on some advice on how to safely break fishing lines for different test weights. Most of use do this wrong so that is certainly worth checking out.
Before You Cast: How To Stop Losing Fishing Lures
A lot of problems can be solved before you even throw your first cast out. From how you tie your hooks, to how you retrieve and what you know about where you are fishing are all going to help keep your lure in your possession rather than the bottom of the lake or sea.
Casting Accurately: Although ninety nine times out of a hundred you are going to get snagged under the water I have a feeling we have all at some point found ourselves looking at a tree, a bush, or even worse a friends clothes with our lure hanging from it after an over enthusiastic cast.
Look above the water as well as below: In new fishing areas take a moment to look around for potential hazards above you as well as the ones you will have to feel out under the water as well. Especially keep an eye out for power lines for obviously reasons. If you are in a place where the foliage might cause snags then try to cast sideways instead of over head. You will lose a little distant but not lose so many lures.
Seek out local knowledge: With regard to snags under the water, if you know the water then this will be less on an issue. If you don’t and there are others fishing when you get there a five minute conversation with them or the game warden could save you time and frustration.
Fish Finders can find more than just fish: If you are on a boat then a couple of laps around with a half decent fish finder ( we have reviews of these on the site as well) could be worth it. both to find the fish, and to give you information on any underwater obstacles you may want to fish near but not on top of!
Tackle Hungry Places: Be aware of piers and well fished locations. If you are fishing piers or jetties you can bet your life you are not the first person to be throwing a rod into the water. These can be very tackle hungry places to fish. All those anglers who have been before you will have lost some gear down there at some point.
This means under those waves are going to be a lot of fish certainly, but even more broken tackle and lines for you to get caught up in. My local fishing spot is terrible for this, to the point that it has basically become unfishable for anything other than surface fishing now.
Ways to Stop Losing Lures: Tackle, Rigs and Gear
Move up to Braid
Braided Fishing Line is thinner and stronger by width. It also has very minimal stretch. This allows you to feel what is happening with your lure of bottom rig and in theory gives more control to bounce it out of trouble before it settles in.
Being able to feel how you are reacting with the bottom allows you to control the speed of your line retrieval and keep it on the move. They also are easy to see ( both for you and the fish unfortunately) but for you at least if you know of snags close in to you you can see as your line gets closer and start to keep the lure high in the water.
If you do fish with braid we do recommend a fluorocarbon leader for most fishing, and there is an article on what fishing line and test weight for a selection of species here.
If you want to know which braid we use and recommend we have linked below. Its XXXXXX and a nice solid mid range priced brand.
Use A Texas Rig
The Texas rig ( see the link to find out why it got its name) is a fishing rig used primarily for bass fishing but is perfectly transferable for other soft lure fishing where ever you may be doing it. Basically it is a bullet weight and an, optional, bead with a worm hook.
When the hook is pushed into the worm we move the worm ( soft lure) up the hook and then rehook the body of the soft lure so that the point is in side.
This means the business end of the hook is inside the lure and is less likely ( but not completely) to get caught up on heavy weeds, rocks or other under water obstructions.
Its not fool proof and obviously is only going to work with soft lures but if you are fishing a particularly weedy or rocky swim then it may stop you losing a few lures.
Invest in a Strong Rod.
Strong rods give the angler the power to be able to pull through heavy weeds and kelp when needed. Unfortunately they are not the cheapest option out there, but a good one that lasts and doesn’t snap is going to out last the three or four cheaper options that might. It is entirely up to you if you think its worth it. We tend to use other options and don’t ten to seek out really rough rocky bottoms to fish on.
Invest In A Fast Retrieval Reel.
A reel with a high ratio gives you more options with snaggy fishing areas. You can bring your rig and lure off the sea bed quicker and keep it away from snags easier. If you know you are going to be fishing regularly then it may be worth investing in something like the Penn Battle II. This will bring in over 34 inches of line a turn and will make managing your lures much much easier.
During Your Cast: How to Stop Losing Fishing Lures.
So you have your reel, you have your lure, you have checked out the bottom, there are no trees around and you have just casted in to the water. There are some tricks and techniques you can keep in mind while you are fishing to minimize snags. It wont eliminate them but it should at least reduce how often you find yourself losing lures.
- Feel the bottom, don’t automatically whip your rod up if you feel resistance, feel if its a bite of you are on rough ground.
- As the lure or rig hits the water strike and retrieve so you can take up the slack before your lure hits the bottom. this way you can feel what is happening right away
- Keep a good speed as you retrieve it keeps the lure away from the bottom. (unless of course you are fishing there) in which case speeding up a little will help bouncing it off rocks easier.
- Keep your rod tip at about the 10 o clock position, especially for weeds and rocks, it angles the lure up a little and makes it easier to flick your line up and away.
Tips for Unsnagging your Lures.
We have all felt that sinking feeling as you are hand pulling your line, trying to add pressure to it, in the hope that what ever your gear is caught on will give first. It is the step just before jerking the rob back and forth in case it works on the fifth time of trying.
Then pop, everything goes slack and you start to reel in, feeling a distinct lack of weight on the end and knowing your are going to spend the next 10 minutes re-rigging because of a lost lure. Losing terminal gear is bad, losing fishing lures is worse.
We have all got snagged, and we have all been in the position of losing fishing lures. So here are some tips on how to get out of a snag when it eventually happens.
Some of these will only work if you can get close to you snagged lure. (we will mention that when needed)
Use Your Rod Tip To Unsnag Your Lure.
This is likely to be a boat retrieval. You do not need any further equipment to try this, just your rod. (and some shallower water) You have to try to use your rod trip to guide down the line and push the lure off the snag. You will need to tighten the line a little. If you have a very sensitive rod tip we would not recommend this however.
Unsnagging Lures: Lure Retrievers
If you have a large collection of lures and they cost alot to put together then a lure retriver might be a useful addition to your tackle box of tackle backpack. Losing lures costs money, and if spending a few dollars on one of these gets you a few back then they will pay for themselves pretty quickly.
They come in a range of sizes and designs but basically come in two styles, one that travels down your line to know off the lures, and one that comes with a pole if you can get closer to your lure and jab at it!
Both examples are pictured above and below from Amazon . We advise you to read the comments to make sure they will suit your fishing situations. One thing we do suggest is to read the directions. Sliding it down incorrectly might just end up with you losing both the lure and the retriever!! if you don’t.
The Robin Hood Way To Retrieve A Lost Lure
We named this ourselves, although its not out idea. Credit goes to Shop Karls for this one. Robin Hood I don’t hear you ask? Well for two reasons, one if your lure is snagged in the lake, on the rock, on the tree branch or wherever it is very unlikely to be the only one that has been caught there. In Lure terms I can be very sure has much more lures than you do. So getting it back means your robbing the rich (the lake) to give to the poor (you).
Fairly tenuous I know, however the second reason makes more sense. You need to try to use tension in the line to shoot back and dislodge the lure from the snag like a bow and arrow. This is difficult, but at this point anything is worth a shot.
- release the bail arm on your reel.
- line your rod tip horizontally to the snag
- pull a meter or so of line from the top of the rod to the reel
- release the tension line to let it shoot towards the snag.
- if you are lucky the energy movement will push the lure back enough to become free.
- Try it a few times.
How To Break A Snagged Line Safely
So you have done everything right, but still you find your rod bent double for all the wrong reasons. Having tired to get it back using the methods above you have resigned yourself to losing a lure. It wont be your first and it wont be your last. However there are a few things you can do to protect both your rod, your reel and more importantly yourself when trying to break the line.
Protecting Your Rod and reel While Breaking a Fishing Line.
It is true that rod and reel manufacturing have come a long way since we fish set foot on a boat or a river bank but they are not quite indestructible. Snags, unfortunately, rather than monster fish are the main reason they will break while fishing. The main reason for this is high sticking ( moving your rod above 90 degrees to the vertical.) and then trying to break the line in jerks.
You should let your reel do most of the work for you, but even then you can take steps to protect that as well. You are losing a lure you don’t want to lose a reel as well. Although you can hold the line against the rod and line it up with the sang and pull this is really only effective if it is a relatively low test weight line. For higher test weight check out out guide below.
Protecting Yourself While Breaking a Fishing Line.
You are the most important item of equipment on your fishing trip and in the moment of frustration when breaking lines we often forget this. So here are some tips to avoid injuring yourself while breaking a snagged line.
- Keep your wits about you, sometimes while going for the break the lure will suddenly dislodge and exit the water at a speed that may be fast enough to break the earths gravitational pull. You do not want be in the way of that. Be prepared to duck, and try to keep the direction away from you in general and your face in particular!
- Fishing line at tension becomes very sharp, braid is narrower and can slice hands if you decide to try to pull the line by hand. Don’t do this. Use the method highlighted below to line break a snag.
- Be aware for the release, if you are using a strong test weight line it may break suddenly and send you forwards or backwards. At best this is pretty funny, at worst it is dangerous.
The Best Way To Break A Snagged Fishing Line
The a few ways of doing this depending on the type and weight of fishing line.
You can check the table for our advice below.
|Line Type |
|Method To Break The Line.|
|Mono and fluorocarbon |
Light weight (under 4lb Test)
|It is likely you can point the rod at the snag and hold the line flat. |
Then pull back slowly so it gradually increases the tension. It should break fairly easily.
|Braided Line Light Weight (under 4lb)||Braid cuts hands easily even at light weights. Use a piece of wood and wrap it tightly around line at the end of your rod. you can then let the wood take the tension. Pull back carefully till it breaks|
|Mono and fluorocarbon |
Medium weight (under 10lb Test)
|At this test weight mono is difficult to break and can cut hands easily as well. Again use a piece of wood and wrap it tightly around line at the end of your rod. you can then let the wood take the tension. Pull back carefully till it breaks|
|Braided Line Medium Weight (under 10lb Test)||Braid cuts hands easily even at light weights. Use a piece of wood and wrap it tightly around line at the end of your rod. you can then let the wood take the tension. Pull back carefully till it breaks|
|Mono and fluorocarbon |
Heavy weight (over 10lb Test)
|This is heavy line there is a chance you can damage both rod and reel at this weight. If you have something more robust than wood ( as the line may dig into that as well) then use that to wrap the line around and pull. I use plyers to do this.|
|Braided Line heavy weight ( Over 10lb test)||This is heavy line there is a chance you can damage both rod and reel at this weight. If you have something more robust than wood ( as the line may dig into that as well) then use that to wrap the line around and pull. I use plyers to do this.|
Hopefully there are some tips you can take away from this on your next fishing trip to help reduce losing fishing lures to some degree. Unfortunately we will never be able to completely eliminate tackle loses. Take the silver lining of this though, It gives manufacturers incentives to keep improving them, and hopefully in the long run at least enables us to catch more fish.