Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You’ve readied yourself for a cast, the spot looks unbelievably fishy, and you simply know for a fact that a monster is about to take your lure as soon as it hits the water. You line up, make the cast…
And then your lure wraps itself impossibly around a tree branch three feet past your target.
It happens. And while on a recent fishing trip with a buddy, he executed the scenario above flawlessly. He apologized profusely about getting tangled, but I was perfectly alright with it. Why, you may ask? Simply because it’s part of fishing. The way I see it, it’s almost GOOD that someone gets tangled every once in a while. It means that you’re casting close to cover, and the closer to cover you can get your lure or fly, the better. Think of it as a risk/reward. Sure you’re safe to cast all day out into the open water and never lose your bait, but that’s not where the giant lunker bass is. He’s underneath the impenetrable thicket in the corner of the pond. You’ll risk losing that lure casting to him, but you’ll never get him if you don’t try.
With this in mind, there’s plenty of things to consider about fishing close to cover. The first is, of course, your lure/fly. I know for a fact that I’m going to lose tackle, but when it comes to fishing in areas where there’s an extremely good chance of losing that $12 lure, I tend to go the cheap route. Soft plastics, weedless worms, simple flies, and cheap topwaters.
Depending on the species you’re chasing, going the weedless route is the way to go in preventing getting tangled. Cast just a little too far and landed in the lily pads? It’s absolutely nothing to worry about when fishing weedless. Going weedless comes in handy, too when it gets caught in a tree or the fish are hanging out in underwater vegetation.Unfortunately, casting close to cover is probably going to mean switching up your line a little bit. A heavier leader or line will prevent fish from rubbing up against underwater roots or rocks and breaking you off. An easy way to tie a heavier shock-tippet is to do a simple back to back Uni knot. These shock tippets come in handy because you don’t have to spool your whole reel with heavier line, and you can get away with using just a little (albeit expensive) fluorocarbon as the leader.
Casting close to cover is also extremely good casting practice. An angler can quickly get to know his/her rod and reel and before long, getting tangled becomes almost a rare issue. But practice makes perfect. Try casting a few feet from your target first. Then slowly get closer and closer. Once you’ve got the distance dialed in, it isn’t impossible to get just a few inches from your target more times than not.
So, the next time you launch your lure miles into the nearby woods, try not to get frustrated. Losing tackle is part of the sport. And the only way to get better (and eventually catch those monsters) is to lose some tackle.