Bass anglers know what a thrill it is to hook a good fish after making an accurate cast and working their lure properly, but they also know the agony of seeing that fish leap from the water, shake its head and throw the lure free. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but on many occasions, the fisherman can lessen a bass’s chance to free itself with a leaping head shake.
Joel Boykin of Bishopville, an avid fisherman, has three tips for keeping bass on the line when they want nothing more than to get themselves free. One deals with the angler’s technique, and the other two are equipment choices.
“Once I have the fish hooked, I keep my rod bent, but I don’t hold it up high. I hold the rod more to the side. A lot of anglers try to keep the rod tip high, but once the bass decides to jump, this actually helps them get out of the water where they either create slack in the line or use the lure’s weight as leverage to throw it,” Boykin said. “Keeping the rod as low as possible during the fight makes it harder for the bass to jump. This cuts down on a lot of lost fish.”
When using lures with treble hooks like crankbaits and topwater plugs, bass seem to have perfected the art of shaking, twisting and writhing around until the treble hooks become tight and give the fish the leverage it needs to free itself. Boykin likes to replace his treble hooks with a unique product called the BasStar Spintech treble hook, which has a built-in ball bearing swivel where it connects to the lure. This allows the treble to spin freely, eliminating the fish’s ability to use it as a prying point to gain leverage.
Boykin has found one lure that has its own unique treble hook, and it’s the lure whose hooks he won’t change. The Rat-L-Trap Pro Trap was designed to keep bass from using the weight of the lure and hooks as leverage. Anglers thread their line all the way through the rattling bait, then tie on to an O-ring with treble hook attached. When a bass shakes its head to throw the lure, the treble hook stays put, but the lure slides up the line. This gives the fish no weight and no leverage to help pry itself from the hook.
"Every now and then, a bass is going to get free even when you do everything in your power to keep it from happening, but I have far fewer bass free themselves since I started using these things,” Boykin said.