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Ten Ways To Lose A Fish

Hooking into a trophy fish is the appeal of fishing for a lot anglers. But we all have experienced that moment when the tension in our line goes slack, and the chance of breaking a new personal record is lost. Read through these ten tips, to help avoid disappointment this fishing season.

Use The Wrong Line

If you're new to fishing you might not know, but if you're fishing for pike or walleye, you should be using a wire leader. The teeth and the power of a pike will rip through any mono or fluorocarbon line. So make sure you have the right line for the species of fish you're after. Using a wire leader for all species isn't good either, because smaller species of fish tend to be "line shy" and using a bulky wire leader or heavy mono/fluorocarbon line could turn the fish off.

Tie The Wrong Knot

Most anglers know/use the improved clinch knot, which is a great knot. However it is not recommended for certain types of fishing line. A good habit is to read the labels on fishing line packages when you purchase them. They will usually recommend the best knot to be used. Generally if you know the improved clinch knot and palomar knot you should be good for fishing in Alberta. As a quick reference, if you're using monofilament line (the standard) use the improved clinch knot, if you're using braided or fluorocarbon line use the palomar knot.

Tie A Dry Knot

Spit and water can't tie a knot for you but it helps produce a tighter, stronger knot, so always wet your line or put some spit on it before you pull it tight.

Don't Test Your Knot

Even if your knot is tied perfect always test to make sure it has a good grip and isn't weak. If you're using 8lb test and higher give your line a good yank to test the knot. If you're using 6lb and lower I would recommend putting gradual pressure on the knot to test it. If you yank on it, it'll just break under pressure it wasn't designed to withstand. It's also a good habit to remove the first foot of line before tying a new knot; generally the first foot of line is what takes the most abuse, rubbing up against trees, rocks and a fish's mouth during a fight.

Don't Check Your Lure

Sometimes we put too much faith in our lures kind of like a chair. We don't inspect a chair before we sit because we assume it will hold us. But if you want to guarantee you're not the victim of losing the fish of your life you should inspect your lures. Make sure all the split rings, swivels and hooks aren't damaged, rusted, or open, and test them to see if they're weak.

Don't Sharpen Your Hook

I've heard this like a broken record, on TV shows and in magazines but it is true. Most anglers are fishing with dull hooks. The best way to know if your hook needs sharpening is to drag the hook across the top of your finger nail, if it doesn't dig in, it's dull. Most pro anglers don't skip this, and will usually re-sharpen their hooks a few times more throughout the day.

Don't Set Your Drag

This step is commonly skipped because many novice anglers don't know how, or what the drag should be set to, and advanced anglers assume their settings are perfect from the last trip. If you don't know how to set the drag on your fishing reel, read your user manual, or look up your make and model on the internet. If you know how to adjust the drag setting, but don't know what it should be set to follow these steps:

Drag settings effect how well the hook sets, and helps maintain pressure during a fight. If your drag is set too loose, you won't set the hook well, if it's too tight, you'll break your line during the hook set, or when the fish takes line during a fight.

Don't Set The Hook Properly

Most anglers grew up being told if you feel anything just set the hook. This is true for some circumstances but not all, and setting the hook at the slightest twitch might contribute to losing fish. All species of fish are different, their approach of attack and eating their food is different, so it's important to pay attention. If you're fishing for pike and feel something, WAIT! Even the hardest hook set is no match for the power of their jaw, and putting pressure too soon might cause the lure to pop out of their mouth when they bite down a second time to commit. So general rule of thumb is wait till your rod starts bouncing. When it's bouncing you know they're tied up so give it a good yank and that should do it. If you're fishing for walleye, usually you'll get a light tap tap, this is the fish testing out your presentation, so pause and let the fish commit before you set the hook and wait for the second strike, then set the hook. If you're fishing for trout, you'll need to be quick on draw and set the hook fast, however don't set the hook too hard, their mouths are a lot softer than a pike or walleye and a hard hook set might just rip through their flesh.

Don't Keep Pressure On The Fish

Here in Alberta the odds are stacked in the fish's favour. We are a barbless province which means if you give the fish some slack the hook will probably get loose. Your best bet is to always keep pressure on the fish, which ever direction you put pressure, the fish will go in the opposite direction. So if you have to keep your rod tip up, down or to the side do whatever it takes to keep that rod bent.

Remain Distracted

When fishing is good or you're desperate to catch a fish, it's hard to take the time to pay attention to the details. The reward of pulling in the biggest fish of the day is the best reward. So if you generate good habits, no matter the situation or mood you're in, you'll never skip a step and if you lose a fish, at least it's not because of something that could have been avoided.

The next time you lose a lunker, take a minute and trace your steps back and see what you could have done to avoid losing your fish. And whatever the reason is you'll never forget it, and it'll just be one more tactic you can add to your fishing.

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