Why Do Fish Run When Hooked?

by Tony Bishop on January 6, 2006

Fishing around kelp and weed can be a truly frustrating fishing experience. Seems each fish hooked, bolts for the weed and rocks and soon there is a bust-off.

Apart from swearing loudly which in my experience has not changed the chosen course of any fish I have ever had on my line, or going up to stand-up big-game-fishing gear, what can we do?

Once hooked, fish feel the pressure from the tight line, and bolt in panic, away from the pressure. So, if you take away the tight line pressure, what will the fish do? Stop running?

This technique works often enough to be worth a try when fishing near foul ground. Especially if fish are continually running into the foul and breaking you off. But, and it is a big but, you need to be very aware of your drag settings, and the drag system must be good.

It is best to try backing off the drag when using a lever drag. Lever drags are much more precise, and you have the advantage of being able to return your fish-fighting drag very accurately. Star drags are by their nature very imprecise, and if you alter the drag during a fight it is damn near impossible to return to your fighting-drag setting.

Once the fish stops running it is time to gently, oh so gently, ease up on the drag and begin to lead, not pull, the fish up and away from the rough stuff.

If the fish bolts again, back off on the drag and start all over again. Once you feel you have the fish far enough away from the trouble spots and into mid-water it is time to get into full-on action, but in the early stages, be patient.

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