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Ten problems and solutions for anglers

After 22 years of guiding, I have come to notice some common but very correctable problems with clients, sometimes even with experienced anglers. I will give you the top ten list of problems I see with clients and some solutions. Maybe some of these tips can help increase your catch.

Problem 1: Letting the jig drag in the weeds or rocks. The jig gets caught in the weeds or rocks and renders the jig and bait ineffective. Solution: In these situations you want to make contact with the bottom, and then lift the jig so it does not touch. Twitch, pop, or lift and drop the jig for your jigging motion. Change up your cadence to see what triggers the bites. You may need to drop the jig to the bottom once in a while just to check how you are in relation to the bottom.

Problem 2: When live bait rigging, having the bail closed and thinking you are fast enough to react by opening your bail to let line out. Solution: Keep your finger on the line and the bail open. At first bite detection you can easily release the line and your finger contact on the line will help with bite detection.

Problem 3: After getting tension on the fish, dropping the rod tip to get you into better hook setting position and taking the tension off the fish. Solution: Once you have "loaded the rod" and you have tension on the fish, do not take the tension off the fish and sweep set the hook. You will find your hook setting percentage will go way up with this simple fix.

Problem 4: Racing the fish to the boat. This happens because of the excitement and is the cause for a lot of lost fish at the boat as they get to the boat and are still "hot". Solution: Slow down, enjoy the fight, play the fish and let him tire some so they are easier to net and handle in the boat.

Problem 5: Reeling against the drag. This happens when you have problem 4. Reeling against the drag causes line twist and can make for some frustration with your line later as well as weakening your line. Solution: Slow down; let your slip of the drag be an indication of your pace. Keep pressure on the fish, keep it coming to you, but let the flex of the rod help you play the fish also.

Problem 6: Excessive "pumping" of the rod when fighting a fish. Don't mimic some of those TV fishing guys, remember, they are putting on a show for entertainment. Solution: Lift the rod tip as you are fighting the fish and reel  as you let the rod down to lift again. Never take tension off the fish. If you play the fish with a "pump" action, don't make it a violent pumping action.

Problem 7: Reeling the fish to the rod rip. This makes it very difficult for your partner to net the fish, and can be a cause for lost fish and broken rod tips. Solution: Keep your rod tip at least at a 30-45 degree angle. This lets the flex of the rod work for you, as well as making sure there is enough line between the rod and the fish to safely net and bring the net into the boat.

Problem 8: Pulling back hard against the fish when the fish dives. This can be the cause of broken lines, broken leaders, or pulling hooks out of the fish. Solution: Let the fish dive and trust the drag. You can also learn how to backreel (not using the anti-reverse and actually reeling backwards while keeping tension on the fish to let it dive.) Slowing down and learning to relax while fighting the fish helps. This problem is also a reaction of over-excitement.

Problem 9: Drag too tight/failing to adjust drag for fishing situation. This is also a cause for broken lines, broken leaders or pulled out hooks. Solution: Test the drag and pull out line to test the tension before starting to fish. Sometimes the reels/drags get sticky. Breaking the drag loose can get those fish to the boat. Learn to adjust the drag during the fight of a fish or learn to backreel.

Problem 10: When fishing with bottom bouncers or three way rigs, letting them drag on the bottom. This causes snagging up and takes away the effectiveness of this technique. Solution: Fish heavy enough so that you don't get your line out over 45 degrees. Adjust weight based on speed and depth. Lift and touch and lift again to check your relationship to the bottom.

These simple corrections can make the difference for the number of fish coming into you boat. Good luck on your next outing.