Brad Laabs: Tips to keep equipment working safely, properly
This week I have a few suggestions that may save on your fishing equipment. These suggestions come from my observations of common mistakes anglers in my boat make because they didn’t know any better. Most of the time it comes from lack of experience or not being informed or taught any different.
One of the most common habits to break is hooking your hooks in a guide on the rod. Many of the guides are ceramic and the sharp hooks can nick the guide. Line running through the guide can scar and cause the line to fail prematurely. If your rod has a hook holder on it, use it. If it doesn’t have a hook keeper, you can get a snap on hook holder to put on your rod. If you don’t go that route, hook the hook in the foot of the guide instead of the guide itself. Putting the hook in the cork or foam will damage your handle or fore grip.
When laying your rod/reel down, make sure it is not laying on the handle, especially if it is going for a bumpy ride in the boat or vehicle. If it is a spinning reel, make sure it is not laid on the bail, as that will wreck the bail spring. Strapping the rods down or putting them in rod lockers when navigating rough water can save on needing to prematurely replace your rod, reel, or fix guides that break from abuse.
Inexperienced fishermen always have a tendency to want to reel a fish in all the way to the rod tip with jigs or lures. This can be a problem for netting a fish and also becomes a cause of broken tip tops or rod tips. Coach your rookie fishermen through the fish fight experience.
A reminder to slow down and not reel against the drag may be necessary also, as newcomers to the sport get excited with a fish on, race it to the boat, and tend to reel against the drag. Reeling against the drag with monofilament or fluorocarbon line will create line twist. Make sure they stop reeling with 4-5 feet of line and lift the rod tip to keep pressure on the fish and allow the fish to be netted with no harmful consequences.
With live bait rigs (lindy rigs or bottom bouncers) they will have a tendency to reel the weight all the way to the tip and keep reeling, not realizing they have a leader to contend with, and the risk of line break or lost fish that can occur.
Trying to pull snags free by grabbing the rod in the middle and jerking straight up is another good way to break a rod. If you are snagged, point the rod at the snag, hold the spool to prevent drag slip and pull straight on the line. It will come free or break the line. Better to break the line than the rod! You can also attempt a “bowstring” snap on the line to try to pop it free first. This technique requires some practice to perfect.
When you have newcomers to the sport in your boat, you must be a teacher and coach to help reduce potential or future problems.
Riding in bow seats when a boat is on plane is dangerous, and for those that have read my articles before, you know my feelings on this issue. Don’t do it. I mention this about this time every year because I still see it going on. I hope we can get everyone away from this dangerous practice. The risk for the passenger in that seat is great, and the view for the operator is impaired and puts others on the lake at risk. If that isn’t enough motivation to stop it, maybe the fact that seats, pedestals, and base mounts can break from this practice. The bow is the roughest riding part of the boat, and one big wave or hitting an object in the water can throw the rider or break equipment. If a bow rider goes over, there is a good chance the boat will run over them also.
Practice common sense and good decision making on the water. Treat yourself, your passengers and your equipment with respect.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)