Freeing Up a Snag

Once you start fishing you are bound to come across the most hated experience of all anglers, the snag. There aren’t many things that upset me when fishing, but this is one them, along with a birds nest (when your line spools out of your reel into one tangled mess), and of course the worst thing to happen is missing a fish.

As we all know by now, fish like to hide in some of the nastiest structure around. In and around trees, stumps, logs, rocks and weeds. This presents a bit of a problem, you want to get your bait in there in order to yank them out, but in doing so there is a chance you’ll get your bait snagged on something other than a fish. Most of the stuff you get snagged on you can break away from, usually weeds or lily pads. However there are those times when you just can’t break away as your hooks have really dug themselves deep into a log or a tree stump. For some reason it always occurs with that brand new bait you’ve been dying to try out and can lead to some serious frustration not to mention put a dent in your wallet.

I’ll give you a few tips that have worked for me, but be aware this is no guarantee. For me it’s usually a 50/50 shot on whether or not I’ll get that bait back. The first thing I usually do is quite simply pull on it a bit. Sometimes you may think you’re snagged but it’s just some weeds or the sheer force of yanking on it might break it free. This “traditional” and easiest method comes with a drawback though. If you really hammer at it you’re just going to dig those hooks deeper into whatever it is that you’re stuck on and make getting it out of there a whole lot harder.

If this method fails, try keeping tension on the line but moving you rod from side to side. This jerking action may pull the hooks out of whatever you’re stuck in. However, there is a word of warning with this method, make sure you have protective glasses on and no one is behind you because if that bait frees up and comes flying out of the water with all that tension on it, it can really do some damage. Basically, have your cat like reflexes ready for this one! If this method yields nothing then what I like to do is keep tension on the line and pull on it with my hand and release it a few times, just pluck away at it. This vibration along the line can also loosen the bait up.

If you are on shore, release your bail and go for a walk. Sometimes I walk quite a ways, and then try this method again. If it doesn’t work from one side, walk in the other direction and try. There have been times where I have walked 100 meters away from my bait to try this method, with my friends all laughing at me, but it does sometimes work. A different angle of attack can really help.

When on a boat all these methods become a little easier since you can actually bring your boat around a full 360 degrees and get all angles of attack. On a boat I find my chances usually increase dramatically when retrieving a snagged bait. On the boat I also sometimes use a paddle to help free the bait if it’s not too deep under the water.

When all else fails there is only one thing to do unfortunately, and that is to cut your line. Nothing relieves the stress of getting snagged quicker than re-tying and catching that next big fish. Hope these tips can come in handy the next time you get a bad snag.