This is a catch all category on the ANGLR fishing intelligence blog. You’ll find articles on species and topics that don’t fit into our other main categories here.

Tennessee Musky Fishing with Guide Steven Paul

The morning was still with no wind to be found. It was one of the first steamy southern mornings of spring on my home waters. When Tennessee musky fishing, paying attention to fine details is key. I maneuvered my boat around the leading edge of a shallow sand flat, quietly working my Buchertail 500 Tinsel X-mas Tree spinner, just teasing the remnants of last year’s decaying weeds.

The surface temperatures were already creeping into the high 60’s; the trees had already bloomed, and were now wearing full foliage. All of the other anglers had moved on to the classic structures, but I was there to pursue a hunch. It was then, she made her move. The Buchertail had suspended mid-flight. From past experience, both success and failures, I knew to set the hook and set it hard. From that moment, I just held on tight for the all too familiar 50-inch class head shake.

Once she was out of the net and in the boat, I realized that this Southern mama hadn’t followed the rules. From her distended belly to the eggs she left behind on my bumper board, it was obvious that she had not gotten the memo: the spawn was over. All pseudo intellectual muskie hunters had claimed this “fact” with authority in the previous weeks, but this ol’ girl was proof positive that nothing is set in stone.

Using Patterns When Tennessee Musky Fishing

Traditional patterning seems to go out the window when dealing with the fish that call these waters home; and in the words of my friend from up North, “Southern Muskies are a tad puzzling.” It’s because of moments like these that I would like to share some of my own experience in decoding what is the Southern Musky.

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Sometimes when searching for a pattern, you must lay out all of the pieces and keep the big picture in sight, it seems like only then can you find the common themes and patterns.

Using this method, I have found that first key to tackling the Southern Musky lies in understanding water temperature.

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Using Water Temperature for Tennessee Musky Fishing

One hard learned lesson is that it doesn’t always matter what your surface readings are, but what lies beneath that hints toward Musky patterns. Early, in the first long days of spring, Southern waters begin to warm quickly. Surface temperature readings of high 60’s and low 70’s are far from unusual in March and April. You may even discover that by May, surface temps have neared 80 degrees.

It is important to remember that a large number of Southern reservoirs are supplied by colder mountain waters which begin their decent in the Appalachian and Smoky Mountain chains. Lakes, such as Fontana in North Carolina and Norris in Tennessee, are known to hold monster muskies and have depths as great as 200 feet. These lakes and others supply many of the downstream Reservoirs with cold flowage year around.

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It is this variable that can make gauging the Southern Muskies “seasonal staging” a slippery slope.

For example, I give you the big girl from April that hadn’t yet spawned despite one of the warmest winters on record and my mid-January topwater trophy. These fish alone required that commonly understood patterns could just be thrown out the window once you cross into Dixieland.

Seasonal Movements are Key When Tennessee Musky Fishing

The seasonal movements and “attitudes” of muskies in Southern waterways can be far removed from your surface readings. One way to tackle this is by using an inexpensive submersible thermometer. This will help you accurately gauge the temperature at various water depths. From here, you can narrow down target depths and understand a little more about the world below the surface.

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I like to measure the temperature in 5-foot increments. This allows me to narrow my search for the “goldilocks” zone, where conditions are the most agreeable for Muskies.

Also, some Southern waterways do not stratify and there is no obvious thermocline present to dictate maximum presentation depths. And though focusing on temperature bands from the high 50’s through low 70’s are obvious targets, sometimes finding that “magical” subsurface layer which gives the musky maximum comfort to hunt can lead to an unforgettable day.

How to Locate Your Target Areas

Another helpful key to our puzzle is dissecting any waterway into manageable target areas. Classic structure and cover is easy to find down South, but it can leave even the most experienced Musky angler frustrated when you keep knocking but nobody’s home. Imagine, you must narrow down a seemingly endless field of weed edge, standing timber, rocks, breaklines, river channels, points, open water, large creek mouths, islands, humps, reefs, marinas, sand flats, fish cribs, and lay downs, which are all subjected to changing river currents.

On top of all of this, you are up against waters that frequently rise and fall with the push of a button. These are just some of the conditions and factors you face on many Southern lakes and reservoirs. And although the endless acres of endlessly changing structure seems daunting, you must remember that when facing a behemoth, you must cut it down to a manageable size.

Whether it is your first trip south or you’re lucky enough to be a native, the key to success on these waterways is dissecting it into manageable sections with varying points of interest. In Southern waters, much like the giant Canadian lakes, you can’t fish it all in one day. I have found that the best approach when choosing how to begin, is finding a section of water that has multiple classic Musky holding areas and dissecting it thoroughly and efficiently using multiple presentations.

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More often than not, anglers find that fish are holding in areas outside of our comfort zone.

This is where it becomes paramount that your build self-confidence when casting to open water and breaklines, forgoing visible cover. Selecting target structure or cover based solely on the season in Southern waterways can also be a fool’s errand, as once again these Southern Muskies are not playing by the rules.

Tactics for Tennessee Musky Fishing Success

I have found that there are several tactics that can help you find success with all of these variables at play. A successful plan of attack can be to work a piece of shallow cover, then immediately follow that with the most nearby dramatic structural change. So instead of steadily trolling along a shoreline or weed edge, focus on working in block grids that include as many fish attracting elements as possible; for instance, fish a weed edge for a period, then the open water behind it, and follow that with the closest breakline, all staying within the same block area.

This is where presentation and lure selection becomes very important. Structure and cover, water temperature, weather, and forage dictate lure selection, but it is up to you to entice triggering qualities, all the while dialing in the rate of retrieve. A huge advantage in these hunting conditions is mastering multiple retrieves with one lure, varying speed and depth, thus getting the most from your lures and eliminating guesswork and missed opportunities.

Selecting the right locations to target can be a daunting task on any body of water, but to insure down south success, you need to come prepared to fish fast and effectively along all types of structure. By following the first key in finding the “goldilocks” zone for maximum activity, now we can add to that dissecting your waterway and being prepared for constantly changing conditions. It seems like a simple solution, be where the active fish are, and find out what turns them on.

Find the Forage to Maximize Tennessee Musky Fishing Success

One of my favorite things to tell friends and guests on my boat is “go big and go home empty handed”. It seems cheesy but it helps drive home another key to the Southern musky puzzle: forage dictates bait size not the date on the calendar.

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This point holds true especially in Southern waterways as the primary Musky forage is threadfin and gizzard shad.

Yes, some shad can grow to 10 to 12 inches in length, but the primary focus should be on the snack-sized forage, 3 to 7 inches. Southern Muskies will at times form ambush packs and rush schools of shad with frenzied attacks; these Muskies are not on the “eat one large meal” diet, so more times than not a four inch crankbait will out perform a 16 ounce hunk of rubber. One of the most important elements of locating any active Musky is understanding its forage base. Knowing this and utilizing your on-board electronics to locate bait movements, is key to finding these Muskies.

Shad have seasonal movements that contradict some of our traditional Musky thinking, but sometimes it’s better to follow the food and not the dogma that has been beat into our heads. Locating and properly presenting around schools of baitfish is sometimes the only way to contact active fish in mid-summer and early fall. Once located, I tend to lean on “matching the hatch” in size, but not color. A quickly retrieved Baby Shallow Raider in Firetiger has all of the moves of a wounded shad but stands out in the sea of silver baitfish.

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Another tactic would be vertically working a Single Blade spinnerbait.

This can grab a lot of attention falling just outside the edge of a roaming school. This tactic of using downsized lure presentations doesn’t apply to only working around bait schools; smaller minnow baits seem to excel in Southern waters year round. Smaller crankbaits, slowly worked around rocks and points can be a deadly presentation. So when tackling the lakes, rivers, and reservoirs of the South, remember that bigger isn’t necessarily always better, in fact, it usually never is.

The puzzle of Musky fishing is not always an easy one to solve, but there is an overarching theme: be where the active fish are and give them what they want. Sometimes, the pieces doesn’t always come together the way we think they should. Southern waters and reservoirs test our traditional notions of Musky behavior and movements, but not in a way that’s truly foreign or mysterious. Muskies, regardless of their longitude, have the same basic needs, sometimes we just need to break out of our comfort zone to find theirs.

To book a trip with Guide, Steven Paul, give him a call or visit his website!

1-615-440-3237

www.TennesseeMuskyFishing.com

 

Fishing from a Paddle Board for Exotics in South Florida

Bullseye Snakeheads, Mayan Cichlids, and Blue Tilapia

Florida… it is the “Mecca” of Sport Fishing. Here in Florida, you can catch so many different types of fish that the choices are endless, in fresh or saltwater. One of the most interesting aspects of fishing in Florida is the introduction of “Invasive” or “Exotic” species in several waterways throughout South Florida, and how basic bass fishing techniques can land these fish. Fishing from a paddle board simply makes it more interesting!

From the small bodies of water near exit ramps to the canals that run through developments, these Exotics are becoming a sought after game fish.

Let me review a few ways I catch them…

Snakehead Fishing From a Paddle Board and Tackle Used

As I said, I don’t have to change techniques that I use when bass fishing to land one of these feisty fighters. One of my favorite ways to catch bass is to work a soft plastic frog around and through vegetation fields. My go-to is a Bass Addiction Gear Kickin’ Frog in Houdini color, or a Scumfrog Chugger in Black, both of which are a great imitations to the natural look of the frogs down here in South Florida.

For the Kickin’ Frog, I rig it on a 4/0 VMC heavy duty swimbait hook with a bait keeper. The weedless design allows me to work the frog through cover and not get hung up, and the heavy duty hook is very strong, which is key for aggressive fish like the bullseye snakehead. Now, while Bass will frequent these vegetation fields in a variety of depths, the bullseye snakehead will remain in parts that are closest to the bank where there may be a foot or less of water.

I believe that they do this simply to remain close to the pods of fry that stay within these areas, thus keeping them close to an abundant food source.

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Working these frogs parallel to the bank near vegetation patches will surely bring an aggressive strike.

For my rod and reel, I love using a MH 7’ Falcon Bucoo spinning rod with a 2000 sized Daiwa Tatula spinning reel with 15 pound braided line tied directly to the hook. The medium heavy action rod has a soft tip to cast the frog a good distance, but the backbone to turn the fish when needed. As far as using braid, I normally prefer monofilament, but snakeheads love to hang close to structure as well and the braid helps me keep the fish on without worrying too much about line breakage.

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I will turn to the Scumfrog Chugger when I am working vegetation fields with large open “pockets” that allow me to slowly work the chugger.

For this bait, I use a Falcon Cara T3 Jason Christie Frog Rod paired with a Daiwa Tatula CT with a 8.1:1 gear ratio to allow me to quickly pick up slack before setting the hook. As for the line, I upgrade to a 20 pound braid.

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Fishing From a Paddle Board for Mayans and Blue Tilapia

Another of my favorite ways to catch bass is to work a spinnerbait around structure. My go-to is a RedLine Lures Pro Series in Houdini color with a double Colorado blade configuration. I love to throw it around brush piles, docks, and fallen timber.

I will use a 6’6” Medium Action Falcon Bucoo SR Casting Rod with a moderate taper paired with a Daiwa Tatula CT with a 5.5:1 gear ratio. For spinnerbaits, as well as lipless crankbaits, I prefer the slower gear ration so I can work the bait nice and slow and the soft taper of the rod allows me to softly drop the bait on the cast.

Now, while bass will often be caught in these areas, Mayan Cichlids are also inhabiting these same spots and will readily hit these baits.

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While they are small in size, the Mayan Cichlid fight is very similar to a peacock bass…running side to side with small bursts of speed and pulling straight down.

Another rare species to get on the end of your line is the Blue Tilapia. This fish is much harder to catch, but when hooked…the fight is incredible. I have caught just a handful of these fish, but found that when a lipless crankbait is worked in deeper waters over submerged structure, if near a nest, a Blue Tilapia will strike in order to protect its territory.

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The Blue Tilapia will fight similar to a redfish…it will continuously fight “downward” causing a great deal of stress to the line.

Their fight is unique, so if I get one on, I will quickly loosen the drag so the lure does not pull from the mouth and to release strain on the hooks which will possibly bend. These fish will eventually wear themselves out so let your rod and the drag do the work and you will eventually boat these feisty fish.

Why I Prefer Fishing From a Paddle Board 

While the kayak industry has exploded over the last 15 to 20 years causing kayaks to evolve into fully outfitted fishing vessels, my preferred method for fishing is from my Kaku Kahuna paddle board. I do this for two reasons. One, I love a clean, flat deck. I feel that they are the most comfortable platform for me to fish from.

While I find the room to be beneficial for a variety of reasons, there is also a method to my madness. Many of these exotic species are brutal fighters and the bullseye snakehead is at the top of that list with regard to fighting until the end. These fish, in addition to their power, will also perform what many call the “Alligator Deathroll”, and these rolls will NOT stop when they get into your craft. These fish have been known to break their own jaws trying to escape fish grips, causing your line to wrap around a variety of items, and even in the net, they just simply don’t stop fighting.

I know all too well how self-destructive these fish can be when caught so I want to get them off the hook, photographed and back in the water as quickly as possible. A clean deck without pods, pedals, and rod holders, allows me to have a better chance of safely handling these beasts and my Kaku Kahuna allows me to do just that.

Secondly, I believe that a SUP is even stealthier than a kayak.

Due to the smaller overall size of my SUP, I can have even more of a chance sneaking up on Snakeheads. As I previously mentioned, Snakeheads loom close to the banks in less than a foot of water, and the fully padded, uncluttered deck of my Kahuna allows me to stand quietly in just a few inches of water so I can cast that frog just off of the bank and catch some giants that are just lying in wait.

Fishing From a Paddle Board: Closing Thoughts

I have learned over the years that for me, when it comes to kayak fishing, less is more. Fishing from a SUP may limit my ability to cover big bodies of water, but affords me the right amount of space to outfit my trips and find myself slipping into areas that even kayaks may not enter.

If you are looking to possibly hook a exotic species here in Florida, just bring your bass gear, because down here, when you feel that thump… you just might hook yourself a new species to check off your bucket list.

 

How to Find and Catch Peacock Bass in South Florida

Over the past 18 months I’ve been re-learning the waters of South Florida, where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Now, living in Miami with my wife and two toddler aged sons, I’ve had the opportunity to spend significant time exploring the vast Miami canal system and its adjoining lakes and ponds which are home to several fresh and saltwater species.

Although there are many species to fish for in the inland waters of South Florida, the most pursued species by far is the Butterfly Peacock Bass!

While peacock bass are native to South America, they were originally introduced in South Florida in 1984. Since then, they have become a highly sought after fish as a result of their aggressive nature and majestic colors.

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Peacock Bass are plentiful in South Florida however over the past 18 months I’ve learned that in order to consistently find and catch peacock bass, you have to cover water, know what to look for, and vary your presentation.

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Covering Water In Pursuit of Peacock Bass

Nearly every type of bridge, spillway, seawall, or shoreline connected to the urban waterways and canals in South Florida can potentially hold Peacock Bass, so it is very important to cover as much water as possible in order to find fish. Since the lakes and canals in Miami are generally clear, the vibrant colors of Peacock Bass make them easily noticeable in most conditions and provide natural opportunities to sight fish.

In re-exploring the urban canal system, I made a habit of stopping at nearly every urban body of water that I could find in neighborhoods, near shopping malls, parks, highways, and various other locations in Miami. Most of the time my reconnaissance of potential locations was without a rod in hand while I was on a lunch break or running errands.

My aim was simply to determine if these various locations held fish that I could come back to at a later date.

While I now use the ANGLR App to mark spots where I find fish, I previously made mental notes or took map screenshots with my phone which I would later review to determine other potential ways to access the same bodies of water where I knew fish were present.

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By taking the time to cover lots of water, I quickly found numerous locations that continue to produce healthy peacock bass year round.  

What to Look for When Locating Peacock Bass

While peacock bass can be found in nearly every body of water in Miami, when searching for new locations, I generally look for deep drop offs near hard structure such as limestone, boulders, or large pieces of cement along shorelines. I’ve also had success finding peacocks in deeper water under lily pads that line seawalls or shorelines. Although peacock bass prefer clear water, they can also be caught in areas where water visibility is limited due to pollution, cloud cover, or tidal flow.

One trick to identifying Peacock Bass in the water during low light or limited visibility conditions is to look for the bright orange color on their anal fins. Similar to other species, when in spawn, bedding Peacock Bass will typically be observed in pairs, and sometimes with small fry nearby. While they are other times observed in large schools, my favorite way to target peacock bass is when they are swimming in smaller groups of 3 to 4 and feeding on small baitfish in the shallows.

Focus on Presentation to Catch Peacock Bass

Due to their predatory nature, Peacock Bass are voracious eaters that can be caught on live bait, artificial lures, and even flies. Unlike species such as Largemouth bass, Peacock bass can be more aggressive with increased sunlight and warmer temperatures. When turned on and active, Peacock bass will devour nearly everything you put in front of them, especially by live lining wild shiners or small cichlids using small circle hooks.

When the fish appear uninterested in live bait, I will often switch from live bait to various small flies which I find to be the most effective method overall to entice slow moving fish. There are also ample opportunities to catch them on topwater lures and flies, which makes for an explosive bite. At the same time flashy artificial lures such as Mirrodine’s, or Rat-L-Traps work well as they mimic small baitfish.

Despite their aggressive eating habits, peacock bass often become less active when in spawn and protecting their beds, and also tend to turn off as a result of significant cloud cover, cold fronts, or rain.

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The key to enticing inactive Peacock bass to bite is changing your presentation.

When attempting to use artificial lures with slow moving fish, I like to downsize my lures and retrieve the lure in a more erratic nature in order to provoke the fish. I find that they will sometimes try to bump the lure, or push it away, yet with repetitive presentations of a lure the Peacock bass will usually bite once they are sufficiently irritated.

When casting a fly to a hesitant Peacock bass, I like to slow down the strip of the fly, and at times will stop the fly right in front of the fish and will even let the fly drop to the bottom near the fish before stripping line quickly to elicit a response. This retrieve tends to irritate or provoke the fish and results in consistent bites from seemingly lethargic and inactive fish.

The Miami canal system is one of a kind, and provides as an opportunity for anglers of all skill levels to catch trophy Peacock bass. The next time you make a trip to Miami, be sure to focus on locations with drop offs near hard structure or lily pads and if you don’t see peacocks after a short time, continue to cover as much water as possible.

Once you find the fish and determine their level of responsiveness to your tactics, don’t hesitate to switch up your approach if the fish initially appear lethargic and uninterested. With the right presentation, you can be sure to elicit an incredible bite!

Chad Nelson is an ANGLR Expert and a Miami-based fishing guide who specializes Peacock Bass and has experience guiding families. To book a Miami Peacock Bass trip with Chad or to find out more about catching peacock bass and other prized species in Miami such as tarpon, snook, and bonefish contact Chad on Instagram @cnelson4. A portion of all proceeds go to support 501(c)3 non-profit organizations working to help underprivileged kids and transform communities in Panama and Afghanistan. Chad was featured on Episode 20 of the ANGLR Tour. Check it out below! 

 

Channel Catfish Fishing in the Winter

When it comes to channel catfish fishing in the winter, there are a few tricks involved. You can be just as successful at catching channel cats in the winter as you are in the summer. You just have to understand their seasonal patterns.

Your catfishing days don’t have to come to a bitter end just because the weather is turning. It’s not voodoo or magic. You just need to learn how to locate and pattern fish and get the right baits in front of them.

Know Where The Channel Catfish Go!

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If you’re following catfish through the warmer seasons, you know you can find them in certain areas at certain times. That may very well help you track them down in the winter months. Finding them means understanding what triggers movement and identifying their wintering habitats. Catfish don’t work according to your 12-month calendar. Their patterns and behavior are all relative to water temperature – it controls everything they do.

In the spring, you’re finding channel cats well upstream from the bigger rivers, sometimes miles and miles off of the main tributary. They may be hunkered down in shallow feeder tributaries, some no wider than a few yards with water not much deeper than three feet. In the summer and early fall, those same fish move to deeper pools, but within that same area.

Come late fall, they’ve vacated those shallower areas and moved downstream to the deeper sections of the mainstem rivers, as well as in the deepest holes in the lower reaches of the tributaries. Some fish will move down river to larger, warmer, deeper sections of the river. But if suitable wintering habitat in the tributary is available upstream, such as below an upstream dam, some catfish will winter up there.

In smaller rivers in the fall, catfish are likely to inhabit the same holes where they spend the summer. Once the water starts to cool down to around 60℉, studies show most moving downstream to deeper wintering holes with slow current. Don’t let that be a rule, though. If there’s a great wintering habitat upstream, they may congregate in these spots once the temperature drops below the 40-50℉ range. They’ll stay there from late fall throughout winter.

Where To Focus When Channel Catfish Fishing In The Winter

You’ll want to fish the deepest holes, especially those with some form of cover. If they’re not there, keep moving. If you have a river-run reservoir within easy reach, the best late-season strategy is to fish the deeper areas of the reservoir from a boat.

Activity will vary depending on the weather patterns, too.

“There’s no doubt weather influences catfish in fall, so watching weather patterns is critical,” says In-Fisherman Editor-In-Chief, Doug Stange. “October has been a consistent bite month in the smaller rivers I fish in the Upper Midwest. Then the weather gets colder and the nasty late October and November rains and snow slow the bite. I’ve found that a bout of warm, moderate weather for several days gets fish active again, sometimes even into early winter.”

Water level can also have a big impact, as well. According to Stange, “High water can be a disaster. The best bet is when stable mild temperatures are accompanied by stable flows, especially on the moderate to low end of the spectrum. High water and cold weather stimulate movement of channel catfish to wintering areas. If you get a week of moderate weather afterward, fish those wintering holes catfish likely moved to.”

Catfish often return to the same spot every year, so if you can find a sweet spot, your chances are good it’ll be there for you for a long time to come, provided you don’t over-harvest. Most avid winter anglers stick to a catch and release policy for larger cats at this time of the year.

The use of the Free ANGLR Fishing App can help you keep excellent track of your fishing patterns while uncovering channel cats, logging information on location, weather, and water conditions easily, creating a trip profile you can come back and review later.

Don’t Fret the Channel Catfish Fishing Gear

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The key is to not really get hyper-focused on your gear. Next to the biology of the fish, your gear isn’t really going to make much of a difference. What is important is having a good quality rod and reel spooled with good line that is capable of doing the job.

Channel Catfish Reel

Your reel needs to have a large line capacity and a smooth drag system that is functioning properly. There’s no need to break the bank when looking into a reel, unless of course you want to!

Channel Catfish Rod

A good rod is made to bend and flex with the large fish, so look for something made of e-glass, s-glass, or composite blank. These blanks are fairly important, but again, there’s no need to break the bank. You want the rod to have a good back bone for when you are pulling them up off the bottom. The tip should be soft for when they make those last minute runs at the edge of the boat!

Channel Catfish Line

You want to be sure your line is fresh and hasn’t been on your reel for very long. Look for a good quality twenty pound test monofilament, as it’ll be more than capable of landing anything you’re going to come across. High visibility line is a good idea to help you detect bites!

Channel Catfish Hooks

When it comes to hooks, you get what you pay for. Don’t give in to the temptation to go cheap. The cheaper hooks will not only miss fish, but they can break and twist. Thankfully, good hooks aren’t that much more expensive than their cheaper counterparts. Many catfish anglers recommend using a circle hook when available to make the release of the catfish that much easier!

Rigging For Winter Channel Catfish Fishing

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Since the fish are holed up in deeper areas, late season is the time to use bottom-oriented presentations like slip rigs and split-shot rigs. You’ll want to avoid float rigs through the winter. A few to try: a single hook like the Eagle Claw 84 or Mustad 92671, or a beaked design like the Eagle Claw L7226. For more vertical presentations, like when fishing from a boat, a jig tipped with minnow or cutbait is a good option.

For late-season channels, cutbait probably ranks at the top of the list, but it needs to be fresh. These fish don’t like scaley baits at this point in time, so use either softer-scaled bait or remove the scales. Shrimp can make a great winter bait for channels. They tend to jump on it. But if you’re really strapped for bait, night crawlers can be a good choice, too.

Keep replacing your bait regularly so they continue to ooze the substances that are attractive to catfish.

Because these cold fish are more lethargic this time of year, locating where they’re resting and getting the bait right in front of them at just the right depth are the two most important key factors.

 

Fishing For Catfish In The Winter

Just because the dog days of summer are over, doesn’t mean you’re done with fun. There’s good catfishing to be had all year long. Like any other winter fishing, you just need to learn to adjust your approach and know where your fish are going to be camping out through the cold season.

ANGLR Expert, Jake Derhake, a catfishing tournament angler, sets us straight and lays down some of the best winter catfishing tips we’ve ever heard. While he rarely lands Flatheads and somtimes Channel cats, he’s mostly onto Blue cats come winter time.

What You’ve Heard About Fishing For Catfish In The Winter Isn’t Always True

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Oldtimers historically decried that daytime catfishing just wasn’t productive: the only time to catch a catfish was at night. We now know that isn’t true at all, as daytime catfishing can actually be very good, and much safer than being out on the river at night.

So what about winter catfishing? Those same old timers would hang up their gear for the season once cold weather set in, twiddling their thumbs awaiting spring’s warmer breeze. If you ask Derhake, “Winter is actually a very special time of year.”

He enjoys the fact that he gets a little more elbow room out on the rivers in January and February. Only the die-hard catfishermen are out braving the bitter temperatures. He heads out winter catfishing in the early morning hours.  

What Do Colder Cats Do?

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As the temperature of the water drops, the fish’s metabolism slows down, so they do become a little more lethargic. Derhake has noticed that they start to exhibit almost a schooling-up type of behavior. “In the summer, they’re everywhere feeding on everything, but in the wintertime, there will be many of them clumped together, and in a lot fewer places,” he says.

“You’re not going to find them in every spot you look, like you do in the summertime, but once you find them, you’ve found them.

Once you catch one catfish in a spot, you’re likely to find several others in that same location.

They tend to lay claim to a hole and generally stay there all winter. “If you find a spot where you’ve caught 15 fish in a day, a week later you could probably go back out and catch more fish out of that same spot,” mused Derhake. That’s because once the water cools down to a certain temperature, they generally stop moving around and tend to stay in one place. In the fall, once the water drops below 50℉, they’ll start schooling up and getting into the deeper holes with a little less current, remaining there until the water warms up into the upper 40’s again.

Pay close attention to the makeup of the river bottom, as that has a big effect on the surrounding water temperature. Muddy water and a sand bottom will heat up faster, so the cats may be feeding in the shallows on a warmer day.

“When it’s been 30 degrees and the sun is out and hitting the water on a 50 degree day, they might be feeding in a shallow sand spot, because that’s where the bait fish, like shad, would be,” he said.

You want to look for structures like a wing dike that jets out from the shore. At the tip of that structure, there will be a hole because of how the current hits the edge. Behind these structures, the water will create a whirlpool that cuts a divot into the bank. There are often trees stuck down in the bottom, which creates good cover for cats. Find the bit of a whirlpool current, and tie your boat off right in the back flow side, so your stern is facing upriver. “That is a really good place to start.”

Since the fish swim up out of their hole to feed, Derhake recommends casting one line down into the deep hole, cast one line out pretty far, and cast a few lines out the sides. You’re looking for difference in elevation, so put your baits there, since that’s where the fish are going to be targeting for feeding.

The big thing is to stay flexible. If you don’t get a bite in a location, it doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong spot but the conditions may not be right to catch a fish. Changing something about your setup, whether it be changing the way you cut your bait or just reeling in and casting to a new spot, can change the way your day is going. When you’ve tried plenty of new things and are still not finding success, then it is time to move spots. Derhake stated,

“I don’t keep doing the same thing for long, usually after 30 to 45 minutes, I’ll change something up or move to a new spot.”

It’s All About That Bait When Fishing For Catfish In The Winter

Derhake switches his bait up for the colder season. “In the summertime, the main bait I use is skipjack herring. In the wintertime, I will still use skipjack, but the most popular bait is gizzard shad.” Some people have success using frozen skipjack, as it’s almost impossible to catch fresh in the wintertime in his area.

“Fresh bait is always going to be preferable to frozen. Frozen shad doesn’t keep well since it turns mushy once frozen. If I have to, I’ll use frozen skipjack before I use frozen shad.”

If you’re not catching fish, the bait is often the problem. If you’re using fresh shad, and not catching fish, your problem is probably elsewhere: You’re either not in a spot where there’s fish, or they’re not feeding.

Since the fish’s metabolism has slowed down, they’re after smaller bait, so you don’t want to fish with as big of a bait as you do during the warmer months. “The fish are slower, they bite softer, so the smaller bait usually will catch more fish,” advised Derhake. “You could put a larger bait out there and catch a larger fish, but you’ll catch big fish on small bait as well, in the winter.”

Gearing Up For Fishing For Catfish In The Winter

fishing for catfish in the winter(3)

Your basic catfishing rod should be a medium heavy rod. “Because the fish are slower in the wintertime, you could go a little lighter because they’ll give you a less aggressive bite and less aggressive fight than they give you in the summertime,” he said. There’s no need to change anything with your reel on an anchor rod in the wintertime. Derhake uses an Abu Garcia 7000 C3 or Shimano Tekota 500. You’re looking for big, round reels that give you smooth drag and a large line capacity since, if you mimic him, you’ll be using 100 pound braid.

His rigging uses a 100-pound braid main line that goes down to a three-way swivel. On his two to three-foot leader, he uses an 80-pound crimped mono-leader. In the center of his leader is a 6-bead chain-swivel. His weight leader is six inches to two foot 30-pound line, and he uses an 8-0 Daiichi circle hook.

He chose this rig as a “break-away” rig. The main line is the strongest and hopefully, the last to break. The leader is meant to break-away so that the entire rig isn’t lost. The sinker, being the cheapest and most likely to snag component, is on 30-pound line so it is strong enough to cast but also not too hard to break off in the case of a snag. This allows you to spend less time being stuck and more time fishing!

Derhake has recently begun utilizing the free ANGLR App to begin correlating barometric pressure to his successes. He’s noticed that a cold front will result in smaller catches. To see an episode with Jacob and Jake from the ANGLR Tour, check out the video below!

 

Muskie Fishing Videos

When you Google “Muskie Fishing Videos,” a whole plethora of videos pop up. From “Musky Fishing 101: All You Need To Know About the Fish Of 10,000 Casts” to “Crazy Boat-Side Muskie Strikes,” there are a ton of videos posted about the strong fighter, muskellunge.

So, what are some great ones?

Here are a few that you can add to your watch list. Enjoy!

Muskie Fishing Videos For Beginners

 

Muskie Fishing for Beginners – Part 1 of ?? Release Tools is the perfect introduction to muskie fishing, starting you from the ground – up. Getting Crushed TV kicks off its four-part series with a tackle-packing list, so you’re not left surprised and up a creek before your first outing even gets started.

You can easily progress to the rest of the series, which takes you through different lures and techniques for the best approach :

Muskie Fishing for Beginners – Part 2: Bucktails

Muskie Fishing for Beginners – Part – 3: Jerkbaits

Muskie Fishing for Beginners – Part – 4 Topwater

Giant Quest has put together a Musky Trolling Tutorial to give you an overview of techniques used to catch musky. It’s not as exciting as some of the other videos, but it really gets into how to find your catch and some basics of landing, clearing, and releasing.


USE FISHING APPS TO CATCH MORE FISH!


Orvis takes you through what you need to get started chasing muskies fly-fishing-style in their Video Pro Tip: How to Rig Line and Leader for Muskies. Kip Vieth of Wildwood Float Trips shows you what kinds of lines to use and how he builds a leader to cast big flies, deal with a toothy quarry, and handle a big fight. If you’re after these giants on the fly.

Bennett Marine Video has put together another good all-around video full of tips coming from Lake Saint Clair, where the largest population of muskies in the world resides. Captain Frank Piku takes you through an exciting lesson that will teach you the best ways to hook up muskies on a variety of lures using a variety of approaches in How to Catch the Big Muskies.

Taking Muskie Fishing Videos to the Next Level

Monster Muskies in Weeds is a good introduction to muskie lures and hardware. This video isn’t just about the big one highlights. It takes you all the way from tackle selection, to testing the fish, and some great landing techniques. Linder’s Angling Edge shows you how to experiment and find out how individual lures have unique triggering characteristics which get muskies in the weeds to bite.

Still want more? Leave it to Bass Pro Shops to bring you an in-depth tutorial focusing on one technique at a time. Musky fishing: Walking the Dog tells you exactly what you need to know to perform Walk the Dog, working a topwater lure that has side to side action for muskies with both a slow and high speed retrieve reel.

Though a bit of a longer watch, Musky Fishing with Bucktails produces BIG Fish takes you all through the power of bucktails in the sport of muskie fishing. Keyes Outdoors Musky Hunting Adventures shows you size of bucktails and when is the proper time to use them, then goes so far as to break things down into seasons. Color, size, shapes, and speed make all the difference in success when fishing for this fish of 10,000 casts. This is a must-watch, well-directed, educational video put together with big wins, and sad losses.

Fun To Watch Muskie Fishing Videos

Topwater Muskie Fishing Close Calls And Amazing Strikes starts off a little slow, but if you can hold on ‘till around the 1:00 mark, you’ll start to witness a couple of great topwater strikes.  Chris Munchow even slows it down a bit for us to see just how powerful a strike this bulldog of a fish has!

In Why We Musky Fish – 2018 Highlight Video, Burning Eights make you believe all you’re going to see are teasers of anglers just hooking the big dude, but as suspense builds, they finally allow you the satisfaction of a landing, and a peek at the prize is well worth the wait. It only gets better from there. This is a must see!

Muskie Fishing – CHAOS TACKLE – PREDATOR NATION has most certainly been put together by Tea Predator Nation for the purpose of highlighting what the Chaos Tackle Madussa can accomplish, but if you’re looking to get your off-season jollies by looking at an overwhelming array of striking muskie pictures, check this one out!

Whoops! Sometimes the fish just surprise you! Mark Daniels Jr. hooked what he thought was a giant smallmouth, but he soon realized he had hooked into a massive muskie on the final day of the Advance Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite on Lake St. Clair. It’s amusing to watch, as he’s not even quite sure how to handle the giant in the video.

Animal Planet heads to Canada with Jeremy Wade to film a shoot on River Monsters. He heads out in pursuit of the elusive muskie, but his confidence as an expert angler takes a hit as he’s faced with one of the greatest challenges and most extraordinary catches of his life in Canadian Horrors – How to Catch a Muskie.

As a final video to round out this list, although it may not be specifically about Muskie, you can see Major League Fishing Pro, Dave Lefebre, holding up a solid Chautauqua Lake Muskie in ANGLR’s video below!

 

Winter Pike Fishing Tips

Winter is literally right around the corner. The first frosts have hit, and some have even experienced the first snowfall of the year.

Now is the time to head out to find that trophy Pike. Here are some tips for winter pike fishing.

Why Is Winter Pike Fishing Better Than Other Seasons?

While some elect to fish for Pike in the summer, when they’re spending time in shallower waters, the fishing can be tricky on multiple levels. In the summer, pike are gobbling their food down, which means deep-hooking is a common problem. In addition, higher water temperatures cause the oxygen-carrying capacity of the water to decrease. When the pike fight, they fight to exhaustion, taking them a long time to recover, and often leading to mortalities.

Biology of Pike’s Prey is Key To Winter Pike Fishing

Winter Pike Fishing(1)

Understanding the biology of the fish helps to decipher their habits, and ultimately location, so you can determine the best presentations for the situation. According to fishing editor, Gord Pyzer, “We learn more about what drives the habitats of Pike every time we observe them on the water and study the science surrounding them. But there’s a lot more to learn about Pike under the ice.”

Pike fishing during winter is all about location and the relationship between the Pike and their food. Knowing the feeding and locational habits of a Pike’s forage is equally as important as learning the Pike’s own feeding habits. Study the biology of the lake you’re planning to fish on. Know where deep weed beds and steep shoreline breaks exist. Pike follow where their food will be hanging out.

If you understand the forage species in the lake, you’ll have a jump on where the pike will be at any given point of the season.

In the early season, larger Pike remain in the shadows for as long as the fall spawning species stay in the flats and adjacent drop-off areas. Tullibee or whitefish are a great high-calorie fish that provides a big meal for Pike. The ice is thinner in the early season, but many enthusiasts risking their lives on thin ice believe that the payoff is worth it.

As the season grows colder, Pike head for deeper waters, so you’ll have to make a move. Tullibee and whitefish spend a lot of time over open waters. Pike targeting crappie, yellow perch, walleye and suckers will follow those species to the deep weed beds and steep shoreline breaks.

So, placing your spearing shack next to deep-water holes with soft bottom content will usually generate good results.

How Pike Feed

Following the Pike’s food source isn’t enough. You also have to understand how Pike like to feed. They’re ambush feeders, meaning they patrol along the steep breaklines and mid-lake structures where schools of baitfish like to travel. They attack unsuspecting forage when they roam into range.

They take advantage of underwater structure like trees and rock piles found around steep breaks to ambush their prey.

Take a look at your map and find a few sections where the breaklines are the steepest.

Water Temperature is Important When Winter Pike Fishing

Winter Pike Fishing(2)

Water temperature is important, and not just at the surface. There’s a big difference between surface temperature and bottom temperature. It could be near freezing just under the ice and in the shallows, and 40℉ close to the bottom in some places.


CHECK OUT OUR ICE FISHING QUICK START GUIDE!


The late-winter period can be a really great time to fish if you know where to look. Go out in late March and early April to look for a creek, stream, or river flowing into a shallow, weedy bay or cove and you’ll find the perfect temperature for a plethora of Pike.

The Play of Light With Pike

Pike are more active when there is more light, so lakes with clearer waters tend to have the most active Pike in the wintertime. That can be carried over to the ice, based on the thickness of the ice and how much snow has gathered on top. The more light that gets through, the more active they are.

Dr. John Casselman, former Senior Research Scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is able to easily demonstrate this in the lab simply by adjusting the rheostat on the lights. By simply darkening the room, he’s able to almost instantaneously put them into a dormant state.

Pavlov’s Pike

One big trick for Pike is to pre-bait your fishing locations. Few fish respond better than Pike to pre-baiting tactics. Dole out small chunks of food like suckers and tullibees in a steady stream over a period of several days. But you must do it at the same time you intend to fish, as the Pike are extremely programmable. For instance, you can’t drop it off every day for a week on your way home from work, and then expect the Pike to show up when you go fishing Saturday morning. They’ll be programmed to come eat in the afternoon.

Just double-check regulations where you fish to determine if pre-baiting is legal.

Winter Pike Fishing – Not All Lakes Are the Same

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Someone looking for lots of action, and someone looking to land the big trophy are going to choose to fish on completely different lakes. Counterintuitively, the larger Pike will more likely be caught where there aren’t many Pike to be found.

Lakes that contain prime habitat with premium forage give the Pike a chance to grow large and do it fast, but in places like the Northwest, they don’t get to enjoy the fast growth rates because they’re overcrowded. Many lakes provide so much quality habitat that they produce more fish than the lake will support.

Lakes that produce big Pike will have a good combination of cool water, good cover, and plenty of food for fish in every size range.

DNR websites offer lake information sections that can give you pertinent data on population densities, size structure, and available forage, allowing you to make a good educated guess about what lakes the big ones may be hiding in.

 

The Story of Tommy Adams – Battling Syringomyelia Using The Power Of The Outdoors

I was an all-State athlete, fresh out of college with the world at my fingertips. I got married to my beautiful wife, Mary, at age 23 and together brought 4 amazing children into this world. I started a new job, we bought a house, and I started adding all of my “toys”.

My time to break free from the noise to my “getaway” was always with my 1997 Basscat Pantera II. Man could she fly! I loved that boat! It didn’t matter if I was fishing tournaments, out with the friends, or enjoying some of my favorite times, just being alone, fishing, and talking with the Lord.

You see, my life was pretty dang good! Then in the blink of an eye, things in my life went from great to awful overnight…

At age 25, I was injured at work one afternoon on a forklift. The load I picked up off of a semi was too heavy for the lift. The forklift tipped over and slammed me down from about 10 feet in the air. After all was said and done, I sustained a 4mm neck compression, my L1 and L2 vertebrae are herniated and I have arthritis. My L1 and L2 vertebrae are also compressed 3mm, and my tailbone is rotated up and back 16mm.

Pretty crazy right?

But the worst injury I sustained is a tear to my spinal cord at my T5 vertebrae. It turns out, the “tear” is called Syringomyelia. It’s is a pretty rare condition that very few people are struggling with.

To simplify, I basically have a tumor in my spinal cord that is eventually going to paralyze me.

Battling Syringomyelia

It has truly taken its toll on my family and I. The tear was very hard to diagnose. It took three years of doctors appointments, MRI’s, scans, blood tests, multiple trips to the ER, and dozens of scars on my face from falling all the time… it was pretty bad there for a while.

Finally an MRI to the right spot found the issue. During that time, I was forced off my job due to the medications the doctors had me on. We ended up losing our house, my truck, and I was forced to sell the boat, all my fishing and hunting gear, guns, everything I had, just to try to pay some of the medical bills. Every toy and extra thing I had ever worked for and saved up for was gone… I was left with nothing but my family and bad health.

But where most people would sit at home and lick their wounds for the remainder of their life, I decided to make the most of what I have.

Tommy Adams (2)

I want to enjoy whatever time I have left! Nobody’s going to tell me how to live my life. If I could be paralyzed at any moment, why try to live in caution and worry? I want to have as much fun as I possibly can! So, I fish and hunt when I am having good days, and I enjoy the memories of those trips on my bad days. Those memories and the good times spent in the outdoors are what keep my passion alive!

You see, a lot of guys are too focused on chasing that 10+ pound bass, or that Boon and Crocket buck, but I think they are missing out on the point of it all! That hook set keeps me coming back, it doesn’t matter if it’s a giant, or a baby, I love that feeling!

It’s the same feeling I get when a flock of ducks are locked and coming in, or a 10 point comes crashing out in front of the blind, it’s an amazing feeling to get to experience the outdoors for what it is!

Tommy Adams (2)

That’s why I thank God for this gift everyday. You may think I’m crazy… How can I have this condition, lose everything I have, live my life barely making ends meet, and call this a gift?

With that accident, even though it has taken the expensive toys and cool objects away from me, it has allowed me to truly know the love of my family. That’s the important piece. It has allowed me to truly see what is important in life.

Tommy Adams (4)

The love of an amazing woman, and spending quality time with my kids… those things are so much more precious than the objects in life anyway.  

I know that I won’t lose this passion for hunting and fishing, no matter my health. I know I will continue to go out into the outdoors because that’s my getaway, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

With true love for the great outdoors, 
Tommy Adams~

 

Five Fishing Knots You Need To Know Before Your Next Fishing Trip

The sun is just starting to rise above the horizon, steam is rolling off the water in the early light. As you get closer to the to the first spot your heart swells with anticipation of what’s to come. You take your position, crank back on your rod and fire the perfect cast. A few short moments later your heart stops.

You reel down hard and lean in to the full weight of the fish when… “SNAP”.  The line goes limp and you settle in for a long day. This feeling happens all too often among anglers. The good news is, it can usually be related back to one detail, the knot. In hopes to alleviate some of this heart ache, below are five foolproof fishing knots that may just save a day of fishing and help land that fish of a lifetime.

Fishing Knots: The Palomar Knot

Strength – 9 out of 10
Complexity – 2 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

If there is one knot that I would consider a work horse this would be it. A tried and true champion of any class of line from heavy braid to small fluorocarbon, this knot will hold tight. I have gone days fishing with the same lure, being too lazy to re-tie, and this knot has pulled through for me.  Not to mention there hasn’t been a drop shot tied ever without this knot.

Being a simple self-tightening loop knot allows for fast ties and good line strength retention. One small detail of this knot takes it to the next level though. When completing the final step make sure the loop is on top of the knot and not resting on the side. This prevents the line cutting into itself which may cause early failure.

You can tie this knot to just about any bait and it will go to work. You may hear some people say not to tie it to walking topwater baits, jerkbaits, or crankbaits, but what that really comes down to is knot preference. The Palomar knot is a must know for the next time you hit the water!

Fishing Knots

Source: Shopfishheads.com

Fishing Knots: The FG Knot

Strength – 10 out of 10
Complexity – 10 out of 10)
Purpose – Main Line to Leader

This isn’t your average leader knot, this is for the big leagues. A super strong, low-profile knot that flows effortlessly through your guides. The FG knot provides a 100% line strength transfer. This allows the knot to stand up to the most savage saltwater strikes and hardest home run hook-sets. The way the main line weaves itself around the leader line forces it to bite into the leader, locking it into place. The small details in finishing this knot is what creates the most complexity.

First, absolutely terminate the FG weave with two half hitches, but don’t just tie them willy-nilly. Cinch them down slowly and as close to the FG as you can. Tying one away from you and the next towards you as the pictures describe.

This creates an even knot allowing it to cast and run through your guides that much easier.

Second, tying the finish, you will wrap away from you then “unwind” the knot and pull it tight. This creates tension, pulling the knot together every time you set the hook ensuring it will not work itself loose. Due to the complexity of this knot definitely practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. Once you get it right, you will be amazed as to just how strong it is.

Fishing Knots (1)  Fishing Knots (2)

Source: Fishing.org

Fishing Knots: The San Diego Jam Knot

Strength – 8 out of 10
Complexity – 4 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

This is one of the few knots that have made the transition from the ocean skiffs to the deck of a bass boat. Developed initially for thick monofilament, the San Diego Jam Knot has been a god sent for anyone who fishes fluorocarbon in heavy cover.

The design of this knot allows for the force of a strike or hook-set to be transferred evenly throughout the knot, eliminating the classic fluorocarbon “pop” on a hook-set. This has become my favorite fluorocarbon knot and it works with any test line.

A small change that I make which seems to have a big effect is using less wraps when tying heavy line. I have a smaller profile knot and one that holds better as well.

Fishing Knots (3)

Source: Fishing.org

Fishing Knots: The Davy Knot

Strength – 7 out of 10
Complexity – 3 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

The Davy knot was one that was introduced to me on a small trout stream in Central Pennsylvania. I was fishing 6x tippet on size 20 – 22 flies and the knot I was using was simply too bulky. It was causing the fly to drag and sink.

Another gentleman on the stream came to my rescue and set me straight. He showed me the Davy knot which is also known as the Figure Eight knot.

Easy to tie and small profile, it is ideal for these micro sized flies.

Additionally, the ability to remove this knot when changing flies is not a problem with this knot. This proves exceptionally helpfully for forgetful fishermen like myself who never seem to have clippers. This may not be the strongest knot in the world, but without a doubt it can salvage a day.

Fishing Knots (4)

Source: Pinterest

Fishing Knots: The Snell Knot

Strength – 10 out of 10
Complexity – 3 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

Living in Georgia, we are blessed with having thick vegetation nearly year-round. Allowing us to have a seven-and-a-half-foot broom stick with a cannonball for a weight on the front deck all the time.

Punching and flipping this grass pushes your equipment to its absolute limits.

You are going to want a knot that will take everything you throw at it and ask for more, the Snell is that Knot. Allowing for 100% line strength transmission and a low profile, the Snell knot is my go to when I know I will be dragging big fish that are buried deep into heavy cover. An interesting result of using this knot is when you set the hook on a fish, the hook doesn’t come straight to you, it swings out to the side increasing the chances of contacting the fishes mouth for a solid hold.

Fishing Knots (5)

Source: Fishing.org

With all of the variables that exist in fishing, all the curve balls we get thrown out on the water, our knots are something that we can control entirely. Taking the time to learn these knots will not only make you a more efficient angler, but also give you peace of mind knowing you have one less thing to worry about. Fishing is hard enough and with the knots above, next time you make that perfect cast and lean into that fish of a lifetime, you can have the confidence of knowing your knot will hold.