Get Rid of Those Pesky Snags!

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

It’s just after sunrise and you’ve run fifteen minutes.

From the boat ramp to the spot where you had previously gathered intel on where the stripers had been slamming schools of bait. There’s a short window though, so you’ve hurried to make sure you’re there when it all goes down. If you miss your shot, then it’s back to the truck with nothing to show for your morning’s efforts.

Your rods are strung up. Flies tied on. Knots checked. Drags are set.

As you work around a point and into one of the fingers of the lake you see the surface boiling. Stripers are crashing on bait with reckless abandon. As you reach the school you jump on the deck and grab your rod, stripping the line from your reel like a crazed lunatic. You make two false casts, slipping line each time, and on the third forward stroke you complete an epic double-haul. An awesomely tight loop speeds past you with your leader and fly in tow…. And then comes to a screeching halt and smacks down in the water, forty feet short of the feeding frenzy. Doh! (Raise dominant hand and accelerate palm towards forehead).

Those damn fly line trolls!

They like to gather up all of your loose fly line while you’re not looking and wrap it around things like coolers, seats, trolling motors, pliers, cleats, bags, straps, beer cans, puppies, etc, etc, etc. They have no mercy!!!

This has probably happened to every one of us in varying scenarios, and if for some reason it hasn’t happened to you, don’t worry, it will. Fly line has the uncanny ability to find things to get itself tangled up in. And believe me it will happen in a most critical moment if you’re not prepared to prevent it from happening.

Whether you are on a flats skiff, a drift boat, or wading a local river, you need to be aware of the many things that might grab onto your fly line.

Boats, whether it’s a bay boat, skiff, or drift boat, have numerous objects that will grab your fly line. The best thing to do before you push off the dock is to scan the boat and look for these things ahead of time. The most ideal thing to do is to remove everything that is on or around the bow, but this isn’t always possible. Cover larger objects like trolling motors, cleats, gear bags, and coolers with towels or t-shirts so your fly line won’t catch every little latch, knob, and strap. Remove the little stuff like pliers, drinks, nippers, nets, and small children, and place them in another accessible location. Another step that I take is not wearing shoes/sandals while I’m on a boat. When I’m barefoot, it’s rare that I don’t notice that I’m standing on my line, and I can correct it before it becomes an issue.

For folks that are out wading rivers, streams, and flats, look over the packs that you carry and keep accessories like nippers and hemostats as close to your body as possible. Make sure things like your net retractor and water bottle are out of the way. Tuck away any loose straps. And be mindful that the line you have stripped off the reel is going to wander away from you, and many times ends up at your feet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten my fly line wrapped around my feet.

Keeping things tidy around your casting area will mean fewer interrupted casts, fewer fish lost during the fight, and it will ultimately keep you fishing longer. So take the extra minute to look for these potential obstacles before they become a huge buzzkill!


Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Get Rid of Those Pesky Snags!

  1. Some of the worst producers of “fly line trolls” are the manufacturers of fishing apparel and gear. They justify the nonsense word “technical” by hanging buttons, loops and straps everywhere. All these things do it catch fly line.

    Perhaps this is why the long sleeve t-shirt is gaining more traction for fly fishing…less useless buttons, straps and gewgaws.

    I am waiting for some bright company to get this and begin removing the word “technical” and the corresponding 8 useless buttons, straps and flaps from shirts, waders and packs. Make ’em smooth and I’m a buyer!

  2. Pingback: Tippets: End of Season Woes, Line Interference, Tips for Road Trips | MidCurrent

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