Few things irritate an angler more than having their line snag. If you’ve been fishing longer than a week, you probably know that.
Snags waste your time, frustrate you, and sometimes even cost you to lose the bass lures and rigs you spend your hard-earned money on.
Unfortunately, that’s just part of fishing. You’re going to lose lures, and you’re going to get frustrated by snags sometimes.
However, you can do several things to help reduce the frequency of snags.
If you’re tired of spending half your fishing trip yanking at your line, or you have lost several expensive lures to random submerged branches, this is the guide for you.
We’re going to go over 10 useful tips on reducing snags when fishing, ensuring you spend more time catching bass and less time untangling your line
Let’s get started.
1: Know Where You’re Fishing
First and foremost, you need to have a solid understanding of the water you’re fishing in. You should know where obstacles are, what the bottom is made of, and every little detail that might cause you to get snagged.
If you don’t know what the water is like, there are three main ways to figure it out without risking your lures.
A: Use a Weight
First, before you start fishing for real, tie a 1-ounce bottom weight onto your line. That’s it. Don’t use anything else.
Now, cast it out as far as you can, let that weight sink, and then slowly drag it back in.
With practice, you can use the vibrations of your rod and little tactile cues to figure out exactly what the bottom is like. You can identify where structures are, get a rough idea of what those structures are, get a feel for what the bottom material is, and even identify drop-offs.
This does take quite a bit of practice, but it’s essentially the poor man’s mapping system. If you don’t have the other two things we’ll be listing, this is a good way to get by until you do get access to a better method.
Sonar is another option. If you’re fishing from a boat, you probably already know this, but bank fishermen have sonar options, too. They’re castable sonar units that work like bobbers.
If you have a good sonar unit, it will identify underwater structures, and you can use that information to avoid snags.
This isn’t going to give you all the information you need, but it does help dramatically.
C: Use BassForecast
With the BassForecast fishing app, you can skip all the guesswork and get a complete description of the waterway.
You’ll see hazards picked up by the BassForecast crew or reported by other users, and in general, you’ll get the most accurate readout of what to expect from any fishery in the United States.
The app also provides you with a ton of other information to make you a better angler. So, it’s well worth getting involved in the community.
In fact, even if you do use the other methods we listed, the app is worth getting as a general fishing companion.
2: Use Weedless Rigs
When you’re fishing in an area that isn’t crystal clear with zero obstructions, one of the ideal ways of reducing snags when fishing is to build your rigs to be weedless. You can’t do this with everything, but we’ll cover premade rigs shortly.
Mainly, you want to use a Texas rig. When you thread the soft plastic lure onto your worm hook, don’t just line the tip of the hook up with the back of the lure. Instead, slightly penetrate the back of the lure with the tip of the hook.
Don’t penetrate it enough to catch the barb. You just want it slightly buried into the plastic.
With this rigging method, your Texas rig will slide right over things that would otherwise snag on the hook. In the vast majority of cases, you won’t get any snags with this method of Texas rigging.
Obviously, you can’t just use a Texas rig all the time. That greatly limits you as an angler, and that is going to keep you from catching fish.
We recommend reading our comprehensive guide on popular rigs for bass fishing.
3: Buy Weed Guards
As we said, you can’t always use a Texas rig and slightly modify it to be weedless. Worse, making many lures “weedless” is difficult or impossible.
That’s why you need to buy a supply of weed guards.
Weed guards are something you’re probably familiar with. If you have any modern jigs, a weed guard is a bristle-like brush attached to the jig head, and it lines up with the hook. This isn’t perfect, but it does block the tip from hooking on things unless plenty of pressure is applied to the guard first. So, it will stop many minor snags.
The thing is, weed guards are available on their own. They don’t only come on jigs.
You can buy weed guards in packs, and then you can slip them onto any lure you want for the most part. They just slip over the hook and up the shank, and then you trim them to size so they don’t ruin your hook sets.
This is great when using basic old-school jigs, swim baits, whacky rigs, and a large variety of other lure types. It’s not bulletproof by far, but it certainly reduces how often you’ll get seriously snagged.
4: The Rubber Band Trick
If you have a lure that doesn’t work well with a weed guard, or you just can’t seem to find weed guards in your local tackle shop, you’re not stuck. You can still make your own.
The good part about this is you don’t need anything beyond a pack of dollar-store rubber bands. Get the thin black ones meant for putting your hair up and toss them in your tackle box.
Next time you’re dealing with a lot of weeds and limbs in the water, slip the little band over the hook and catch it on the eyelet. You can also slip it over and then flip it over the line to pinch it in place. Stretch the other end until you can snag it on the hook’s barb. Just be careful not to pierce the band with the barb or the hook’s point. If you do that, it’ll rip quickly.
This isn’t a great weed guard. If you end up pulling on thick branches or a structure with a rough surface abrades the band, it will snap quickly. However, it works in a pinch, and you can get around 100 of them for a dollar. On top of that, it’s not something you’ll need to do every trip. So, your one-dollar investment will stretch pretty far.
5: Fish the Top
You can’t get snagged if you float over everything. So, fish the top. Poppers, floating worms, topwater frogs, and basically anything else that floats are all perfect for fishing waters where the snags are unavoidable.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. On hot days when the bass go deeper to cool down, and during the spawn when they won’t budge from their beds, this is going to be pointless. Topwater fishing also isn’t the most productive option outside of key times and weather conditions.
So, if there’s a lake near you that is known for snagging every lure thrown into it, don’t give up on that spot. Wait for the right conditions, and then go hit it with a topwater lure.
Spots like that tend to chase anglers off. So, by using this technique, you might end up with an underfished spot full of large bass that have been left alone. It all comes down to your timing.
6: Topwater Frogs
This is kind of an extension of our previous tip. There are water conditions that allow you to get snagged even while you’re fishing the top. When mats of moss or vegetation are super thick, or thick weeds are protruding over the surface, you have a prime fishing spot for big bass, but you’ll snag most topwater lures the same way you will use most normal lures.
This is because most topwater lures have hooks that dangle behind them. That hook gets caught on tall vegetation or moss, and you’re stuck.
Topwater frogs are typically made with a double-headed hook that curls around the rear of the frog and lightly digs into its back. This essentially makes it weedless.
When you’re fishing the top in spots that are heavily vegetated, the topwater frog, such as a Booyah Pad Crasher, is your go-to option. It’ll slide right between tall weeds, and while moss will get matted up on the tie-on point, a strong line will let you pull right through it.
7: Punch Through Moss
Moss isn’t the same as a normal snag. When you get snagged on a branch, you have to either drag the whole stick in, free the lure or hope the branch breaks off and reels in.
With moss, you usually just pull it in, and it weighs down the lure, ruining its action and giving you a mess to clean up. However, exceptionally thick moss can be so thick and heavy that it snaps your line after you break through it.
The key to fishing under that moss is simple. Punch right through it.
To do this, you’re going to want a heavier weight on your rig. So, let’s say you use a Texas rig. Instead of using a ¼-ounce bullet weight, slide a 1-ounce weight onto it. When you cast, the weight will hopefully pick up so much momentum that it punches through the moss and your lure glides right through the hole. Your line with cut through the moss fairly easily, but it might be harder to detect bites.
This isn’t perfect, but if you want to fish a very mossy area beneath the surface, this is how you do it.
8: Cast Strategically
Most of the time, you can see major obstacles. Those are great to fish around, but it’s also easier to get snagged on those obstacles.
A good way to handle this is to cast your lure strategically and just assume you’re going to get snagged.
To do this, look at the obstacle and then consider how you’ll be retrieving the lure. You want to cast in a way that decreases the chance of your hooks sinking in too deeply. A good way to do this is to cast from the side.
We'll use a submerged log as an example.
If you cast directly over the log when you retrieve it, you’ll sink the hooks into the log, and every jerk you make and every inch you reel in will dig the hooks in deeper. That makes it more likely that your lure will stay there permanently. There is also no way to maneuver to the other side of the log unless you’re in a boat and there’s room to get around.
However, if you cast from the side, even a good treble hook will make minimal contact, and it won’t go in deeply. Your chance of breaking it free without damaging anything is a lot higher.
9: Use Strong Line
This is a tip that has less to do with avoiding snags and more to do with getting out of them without losing anything. Use a strong line.
Obviously, some fishing techniques require lighter lines. However, if you can reasonably use a 20-pound, 30-pound, or even 40-pound line, you should. You’ll be able to apply a lot of force to break your lure free without losing it. With lighter lines, even a medium amount of pressure can snap the line.
10: Use Wire Hooks
Any time you’re fishing in an area that is likely to cause lots of snags, switch your hooks out to wire hooks.
Wire hooks bend a lot easier, and while that’s not optimal, it will allow you to keep your lure 99% of the time.
The only issue with this is that fish can bend wire hooks more easily, as well. So, you might lose a couple of good bass.
Stop Looking for Crystal-Clear Spots: Fish the Weeds
The weeds and other obstacles are great areas to look for large bass in. However, many anglers avoid them, because they’re afraid to lose expensive lures because of snags.
The tips on reducing snags when fishing we gave you today will help you overcome those obstacles, and you can start fishing the best bass spots in the country.