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How to fight a bass - wear out vs horse 'em in?


snake95
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Any tips on this topic?

 

Specifically when to pull to control 'em, when to give them enough leash to run and wear out.

 

Lost the smallie of the decade for me this morning. Left me shaken but that's fishing.

 

Fishing 8 lb Tatsu with a ned rig. Using a decent knot I think. I know, lots of variables like wear on line from being in rocks.

 

Broke me off when I had 'em close and pulled kind of hard trying to keep out of the rocks.

 

I am more used to largemouth fishing and eager to keep them out of the brush and rocks.

 

Interested in any tips... when are they worn out enough?

 

Maybe this is just luck of the draw and "the agony of angling."

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When I'm fishing in more open water I'm more apt to play the fish a bit. Especially if I'm using a treble hook bait and lighter line. But in general I'm fishing heavier cover and bigger baits on heavier line and I like to get them in as quickly as possible.  For me, the thrill is in successfully tricking a smart and giant bass and getting that precious bite, setting the hook into them and holding and releasing the fish. If I wanted to fight a fish I would toss bluegill out on a circle hook and wait for a 30 lb channel to eat it.

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I usually have better luck playing a fish. Particularly on some of my more forgiving rods. But if the fish is already wrapped up in something, there isn’t any sense in trying to play them then. Have to get them out.

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When flipping/pitching into heavy cover or frogging there’s no playing around. 

I want her head up and out. 
 

If hooking up in moderate or open water it’s basically the same but concentrate more on keeping her down and not letting her break the surface, which will wear her out enough to minimize coming unbuttoned at the boat or shore. 
 

Keeping in mind I don’t use light line on a spinning rod, if I did it would be different.  
I get no joy just playing with them when which I’m sure they don’t either. 


The destination is more important than the journey. 
 

 

 

 

 

Mike

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2 hours ago, snake95 said:

Any tips on this topic?

Specifically when to pull to control 'em, when to give them enough leash to run and wear out.

Lost the smallie of the decade for me this morning. Left me shaken but that's fishing.

Fishing 8 lb Tatsu with a ned rig.

My objective is not to bring a wild, jumping & thrashing brown bass boat side.

I prefer to slip the net under a 'controlled' fish.

Doesn't always go that way but sometimes it does.

We all hate losing big fish.

Here's a clip of a decent smallie I got on a ned rig and an 8 lb Tatsu leader.

(Even though I say 6 lb in the video, it was 8 lb).

I was pretty sure on the hookset that this was a full grown one, so I took my time.

Fish took a lot of line (turn up the volume and you'll the drag working)

https://youtu.be/3OXnPQs0bqQ?feature=shared&t=61

:smiley:

A-Jay

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For me a few factors come into play.  Species, largemouth vs smallmouth; bait type, more of a throwable bait vs solid hooks; treble hook vs single hook and finally cover.  Playing too long can elongate the hook hole and bringing in green can cause more thrown lures.  It’s always a guessing game.  One thing I am never concerned with is breaking off.  I have confidence in my line, drag and knots.  If I’m in heavy cover or vegetation, you can bet I’m geared for it.  If I do break off it’s more likely my fault for not re tying.  

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i am a lover of the 14lb line variety.  i like to work the fish, but i am ham-fisting it for sure.  i trust my knots and line:  probably too much.

 

yesterday, i got a good bass.  it was jumping but i had hammered the hook into the roof.  the fish was not getting off.  but it dove under the mat, and immediately went from a 3lb fish, to a 50lb fish.  i couldtnt move it.  we positioned the boat, and my buddy stuck his arm up to the pits and worked it loose and i boated it.  i imagined it sucked for the fish, so i quickly released it sans picture.  sometimes, i pays to hork it in fast. 

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If the fish is large, I usually play them out when they start pulling hard this way or that way, giving in to them with just enough resistance to keep the situation under control. Lately, I've been thumbing the spool, using my thumb as drag, which has worked out very well (when I remember to do it lol)  Otherwise, no babying around, I'm horsing them to the net for a quick scoop. Or just putting the net near them while they jump strait into it. 

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1 hour ago, A-Jay said:

My objective is not to bring a wild, jumping & thrashing brown bass boat side.

I prefer to slip the net under a 'controlled' fish.

Doesn't always go that way but sometimes it does.

We all hate losing big fish.

 

Thanks @A-Jay and all other responders. I know you could relate to my situation.

 

After reading this and other comments, I think my mistake, such as there was one, was to jerk too hard to resume bringing her closer after a jump. It probably would have helped if my drag was set lighter.

 

I have had bass dive into rocks and brush and get buried and wrap me up or abrade the line etc -- I guess we all have.

 

I know it isn't ideal to wear a fish out for the sake of fighting it, and that was not what I had in mind. I was more interested in just landing it. I was in a rocky area fishing from a steep bank.

 

Its hard to make these split-second decisions, complicated by the emotions. My heart rate monitor spiked! 

 

Very interested in the responses. Clearly this is part of the challenge of fishing!

 

 

 

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Horse the piggy in I no longer mess around like once did fishing mono as a wee kid on light gear.  Horsing them it keeps the line tight, lets them know who's in charge so they don't fight as much, and doesn't exhaust them much and should aid in recovery cause they're not played out.

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I have caught my share of big bass especially smallies. Most of my smallie fishing has been open water with the only obstructions the actual bottom mostly rock & some zebra muscle shells. Using 8lb flouro would not be my choice. I use mostly 15lb mono leaders down to 10lb at the minimum. Those leaders do get frayed quickly when fishing rock especially when you are targeting baits near the bottom. You need to check your line frequently for fraying. I have been broken off before when a big smallie tries to rub the jerk bait loose in the rocks. It happens but most of the time I win the battle. Usually the only time I horse them is when they are coming up to jump. I keep a relatively light drag that only slips during a hard hookset with treble hook baits. I do let them fight freely when they get near the boat & are digging for the bottom. Most big smallies are lost at the boat when they start digging for the bottom. That is the time to slightly loosen your drag & wear them out before netting.  

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@snake95 

What has helped me quite a bit boils down to preparation.

Depending on the conditions, the gear and just about anything else that can factor into it,

knowing what I want & need to do, in advance of get the bite I'm hoping to get,

has been invaluable.

When I first starting recording my fishing, it was obvious to even the most casual observer,

that my fish fighting & landing 'technique', needed work.

Streamlined the entire process.

Being and staying Calm, Patient & Smooth, best I can.

Once the fish is in the net, I can lose it and it doesn't effect the outcome.

Good Luck.

:smiley:

A-Jay

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I believe more fish of all species are lost by over horsing, than playing to gently.  There are times when you have to horse a fish, and learning when to apply the pressure and when to back off, is an ongoing lifetime learning curve.  Remember pulling to hard on a fish can not only break the line, but can pull the hook, if the line is to strong to break.  Just think of how many lures you got off of snags, simply by pulling hard.  I'm not talking about the times you you bent the hook and got the lure back, I'm referring to the times the lure simply pulled loose with a hard pull on the line.  Same can happen when pulling to hard on a fish.  Also many fish are lost at boat side, because they are too still green to be close to the boat.

    When fishing for bass  more than many other species of fish, there are times where horsing is the correct way to fight the fish, but in general, I like to take it easy more than horse. 

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1 hour ago, TOXIC said:

For me a few factors come into play.  Species, largemouth vs smallmouth; bait type, more of a throwable bait vs solid hooks; treble hook vs single hook and finally cover.  Playing too long can elongate the hook hole and bringing in green can cause more thrown lures.  It’s always a guessing game.  One thing I am never concerned with is breaking off.  I have confidence in my line, drag and knots.  If I’m in heavy cover or vegetation, you can bet I’m geared for it.  If I do break off it’s more likely my fault for not re tying.  

This is how I operate too.

 

If the fish gets off because it jumped or just shook free, so be it.  They do that sometimes.

 

If there is a line failure, that's on me.  Unless its a pike.  Their teeth can shred even 40 pound braid.

 

I have not lost a sizable fish this season yet.  Last season I lost 3 nice muskies.  They have really hard mouths and the hooks probably didn't penetrate the iron jaws very well.

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A well known Missouri angler Guido Hibdon, spoke of leading a bass away from cover into a safer area to land them. Get a good hook set, then keep steady, but not overbearing pressure on the fish to play them. Especially with spinning gear/ lighter lines this can work. I've had moderate success with this.

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As an after thought it also depends on what I'm fishing with regarding tackle & hook types. Light wire treble hooked baits especially jerk baits require more finesse when trying to land bigger fish. If your using light line it also requires special tactics. I do tend to play most single hook baits with more authority knowing I have gotten a good hook set.  

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@Dwight Hottle@ajay

Thanks guys for the thoughtful and informative responses, I really appreciate learning from you guys.

I was in a classic big smallmouth, crystal clear water, rocky steep bank situation and you guys know that well.

 

I am originally from up in northern Ontario where I was fishing when this happened, but have lived in the deep south in largemouth (and spot) country for a long time I did not know much about smallmouth fishing growing up as a kid. I don't get to fish in my hometown much. I am mostly in weedy ponds or highland reservoirs down south. Today I was way up north and found a shoreline spot where I could pretend to be Gussy, Johnston Brothers, Taku, Zona, or Dwight and AJay, etc and then got my dream fish on. You guys have been there.

 

I will absorb everything you said for the next attempt. Thanks guys.

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If your not fishing in a big tournament for big money, why horse the fish? Playing a bass is a big part of it for me. Let your rod/ reel do it's job, and enjoy a good fight.

 

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Sounds like the OP has experience with LMB but caught smallie fever.

 

For smallies I fishing a shallow (avg  2' - 5' depth) river and I'm looking for rocky shelves, undercut banks and current seems.

I most often use light wire hooks. They can be bent out when you snag them but a 4# smallie will occasionally bend me out or rub me off. 

I keep my drag at 1 5# to 2# and I always let them make their initial surges but I dont let them get into cabbage or behind boulders.

It's a balance.

I use 15# braid to a 12# mono leader

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Flipping, pitching and frogging, I horse them in. Especially frogging because they don't need much slack to bury themselves in weeds and leverage their way out of the hook(s). For these I'm using 30# to 50# braid and reel with the drag almost locked down. I've made the mistake of thinking I could horse a fish in with a standard straight shank worm hook only to have the fish bend the hook out. That was a potential PB and I'm not sure if I've caught a bigger bass to date, so lesson learned. Use flipping or superline hooks when pitching.

 

Trebles and thin hooks or when using medium rods, I play them on a looser drag.

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I try to keep them moving towards the boat, but don't go too fast because I don't want them to jump and throw it. I'm in a kayak and don't use a net, so I need them to be calm enough to land without getting free or sending a hook into me. If it's a little guy of course he's coming straight in and back to the water as fast as possible so I can go find his mama! 

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