Common causes of lost fish while sea fishing from a boat

We have all experienced that sickening feeling when the tugging of a fish stops and the line falls slack as it swims away. I have seen quite a few of these gut-wrenching moments aboard Sundance this summer, unfortunately a lot of them were easily avoidable, says skipper Roger Bayzand...



CHECK lines and traces for chafe, especially when fishing around wrecks and rocks. Always have a look at the trace after catching a fish. If it is abraded, change it or cut a bit off and re-tie the hook. The time to say ‘that will do’ is when the big one bites.


Butt Paditis

THIS is a really bad disease that can be caught by wearers of butt pads. I wish I had a quid for the number of fish that butt pads have lost.

The symptoms are the angler feels a bite, strikes, then immediately looks down and starts jiggling his rod around trying to locate the butt in his pad. Meanwhile, the rod tip is waving all over the place, the line has gone slack and he looks ever so surprised when he eventually starts winding to find the fish has gone.

The Cure: Wind at least twenty turns to get plenty of tension on the line and a firm hook set before attempting to use a butt pad.


Drag setting



The number one culprit for lost fish is the overtight drag

Some people seem to have no concept as to how a drag or clutch should be set.

An ‘angler’ who bought some of our 50lb Superbraid phoned me once to complain that it kept snapping. I told him that was strange as we haven’t had any problems with it. “What sort of drag setting are you using,” I asked. “What drag” he replied.

Really there is no excuse for breaking a mainline unless it is chaffed on something sharp, like rocks or a wreck. I set all my drags at 25% of the line’s stated breaking strain, or less. If you do this often enough, you will no longer need to use a spring balance to check the setting. I just make sure that I can pull some line off the reel fairly easily, when the drag is set in strike. You can always add some pressure by thumbing down on the spool during a fight.

Lever drags are the easiest to set up, but I see a lot of anglers playing around with the pre-set knob when the lever is in strike position. If you need to increase or decrease drag during a fight, use the lever.

To set up the drag on a leverdrag reel, pull the lever all the way back into free spool. Turn the pre-set knob to increase or decrease the pressure, then push the lever up to strike and check the drag tension at that point. Repeat the process until it is adjusted correctly.

Star drags need regular checking as they can stick, especially if the reel hasn’t been used for some time. You don't want to find that out as a fish takes off. With the reel in gear, give the line a pull and adjust the drag by turning the ‘star’ which is situated under the handle.


Heavy pumping

LIFTING a rod to gain line is normal, but don't just drop the rod and then start winding. This just gives the fish a load of slack line often enough to shake the hook. Keep some tension on and keep winding as you lower the rod.



Blunt hooks

DON'T bother trying to re-sharpen chemically-sharpened hooks, you will never be able to replicate the point. Check them regularly and replace when they lose their edge. Check other hooks, especially some O'Shaughnessy's, when you get them out of the packet.

Amazingly, some are quite blunt and need honing with a fine stone.


American Snap swivels

THE only possible use for these is to hang a lead on them, as long as you are not going to cast it. NEVER use them to attach your trace, a decent fish will open them up as many anglers have found to their cost.



Knotty problems

That curly pigtail at the end of a line is a sure sign that the knot has slipped. Sea Angler regularly publishes ‘How to’ articles on tying knots so there’s no excuse for tying a slippery hitch. Although I favour the Uni or Turl knots, the good old Tucked Half Blood did well in a recent test. It is so easy you should be able to tie it blindfolded. The real secret is the tuck, an untucked bloodknot can slip.


1 Put four twists in the tag end

2 Put the tag end through the loop next to hook

3 Put the tag end through the loop just formed

4 Moisten, pull up tight and trim