How To Get A Hooked Fish Out Of Structure Without Breaking Off [VIDEO]
We’ve all been there…
That make or break, do or die moment when your hooked fish makes a run for structure…
And if you’ve been there, then you know that when the drag is screaming and your big fish is heading for structure, you only have microseconds to make an important decision…
What I’ve found (and what I want to share with you below) is how to handle the fish once your line starts rubbing on structure.
Doing it correctly can make all the difference between you losing the fish and landing the fish.
Most importantly, the result if done properly typically ends up being the top catch of the day since it often involves a big fish and the added challenge of line-breaking structure coming into play always makes for a feat.
So what can possibly be done to decrease the odds of getting broken off?
Before explaining the one thing that I’ve been finding has significantly helped be get a big fish out of cover, we first must cover 2 preparation tips that play a significant role:
1. Use Braided Line
If you know that you’ll be fishing near heavy structure, it is smart to use braided line because it can hold up to rough edges that contact the line much better than monofilament line.
And an added bonus is that it allows for better casting performance and better feel since it is thin and doesn’t have any stretch.
Note: Click here for tips on spooling braid in a way that saves money.
2. Use Top Quality Knots
Although this one seems obvious, many anglers don’t make time to ensure that they are using the strongest knot for their line(s) of choice (I know this is true because I was guilty of it until a couple years ago).
And this doesn’t mean to use the amazing knot that “has never failed before” because all knots fail once enough tension is applied…
So the task at hand is to find the knot that has the highest breaking strength because just the simple act of learning a better knot can increase overall line strength by 30% or more.
Here are some tests I did last year on important connections:
- Braid main line to Fluorocarbon Leader
- Braid main line to Swivel
- Fluorocarbon leader to Lure/Hook (Loop knot = maximizes action in the water for more strikes)
- Fluorocarbon leader to Lure/Hook (Snug knot = maximizes overall knot strength for fewer break offs)
Note: I’ll be doing many more knot tests this year, so leave any recommendations in the Comments section if you’d like me to test any particular knot for you.
How To Lead A Hooked Fish Out Of Structure
Now that we have the two important preparations tips covered, now it’s time to explain what I’ve been doing lately that has significantly decreased my break-off percentages once a fish I’m fighting gets me into structure.
Best of all, it consists of doing just three things…
1. Don’t Pull Back With Sharp Force
Although this is completely opposite of the natural impulse one gets when a fish on the line gets into structure, it is very important to not pull back with a lot of force when you start feeling the line rubbing up on structure.
The reason for this is because this only digs the line further into whatever structure is down there, and it also further agitates the fish which makes it pull harder the other direction… both of which are not good, and the combo of the two almost always results in a “one that got away” story.
2. Lighten Up On Tension/Drag
Now that the fish is in structure, it is fighting against both the pull from you as well as the drag of the line against whatever structure is down there.
So I’ve found that using lightening up on the tension on the line when in a fish gets into serious structure has increased my catch percentage.
Note: This can be done by simply not pulling back on the rod as hard… just keep steady and constant pressure on it so the fish comes towards you when facing the right direction.
3. Slowly Retrieve Line Whenever Able
The slow and steady approach has been working best for me once a fish gets into structure.
This less aggressive approach puts less stress on the line that is rubbing on the structure and it also seems to keep the fish from fighting quite as hard as it otherwise would if trying to force it out with brute strength…
VIDEO – Mangrove Snook Save
Fishing around structure is something that almost all inshore anglers do, so it’s important to be ready for when the next fish takes you back into the structure during the fight.
There is of course no way to get a 100% success rate, but the three tips discussed above along with using braided line and top quality knots have all combined to significantly increase my success rate.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other tips/tactics to add or if you have any questions.
I’d love to hear your opinion on pulling out lunkers from structure.
Let me know in the comments below.
Related Post: 3 Shortcuts To Catching Snook In Florida.
Related Article: How To Tie The Perfect Leader For Inshore Fishing
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You claim braided line is conducive to casting, but that’s not what David Fritts says. I know David Fritts, I don’t know you. Guess who’s opinion I’m going with
If you don’t already know Fritts, you’d be wise to look him up.
I don’t know where you got this “tip” for getting fish out of structure but it’s contrary to what I learned 50 years ago. I learned, practice and fully believe in keeping constant pressure on the fish and forcing it to come back out of structure the reverse of how he went in. My success rate with this technique is such that I have no reason to try your “trick”, but I can tell you giving him slack line is a mistake. Keep the pressure on!
Thanks for making time to leave the comment Mark! I’ll be sure to do some research to see what the procedures were for David Fritts experiments to see why my findings were different than mine.
As for fighting a fish that’s getting into structure, I think we’re on the same page… the key is to keep constant pressure in a way that minimizes the amount of rubbing the line has on the structure. A great example of that is seen in this video in case interested: https://youtu.be/3Nd7GUMnwuw
I can not believe how calm you are when you hook up! Great information and thanks for teaching me.
Glad to see that you enjoyed the video! That paddle board is not built for surfing and so it’s very narrow which makes for poor stability, so there’s no room for panicking as it would surely result in a swim session:)
Great video! Just curious, what type of paddleboard do you own? I notice it has soft padding across the length of the board, mine doesnt and i spook too many fish to count just by setting down the paddle….
Hey Pierson, the board I use is made by a company called Starboard. This particular one is made for surfing, so it’s not very good for fishing because it’s back end has a sharp taper which makes it very unstable when still. But I love it because it’s a ton of fun when surfing and a fun challenge when fishing.
The added pads do help with keeping quite when setting the paddle down. I’d recommend somehow sticking a small square of rubber on the front of your board if you fish from it a lot to help dampen the noise while also providing a good surface for keeping the paddle still when it’s not in use.
As always, valuable info. Thanks! I like using a swivel clip from braid to leader, simply because it allows for a quick change of lures. Would that create a greater chance of losing a fish in structure?
Thanks Ray! As for the swivel clip, I am not sure if it would make much of a difference. The only potential harm I can think of is if its bulk snagged onto the structure when trying to slowly pull the fish in (but I think that risk is low). Otherwise, I can’t think of any reason why it would be harmful.
I have found that a swivel from line to leader causes a broken guide too often as when reeling in you forget to stop before the swivel. What do you think?