Fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors and relax, but nothing can ruin a day on the water like constantly getting snagged and losing tackle.
Whether you’re fishing in a lake, river, or ocean, getting your line caught on rocks, weeds, or other obstacles can be frustrating and time-consuming. So we have listed 25 fishing tips and techniques on how to avoid getting snagged while fishing.
What Is The Best Way To Avoid Snags?
We cover bait, lure and some fly fishing and fishing techniques on how not to get snagged. But be mindful that many fish species hang around structure like weed beds, rocky outcrops, reefs, submerged trees and timber as it provides shelter and food for the fish.
Luckily, there are plenty of techniques you can use to avoid getting snagged. Each idea is covered in more detail below the list.
- Keep Rod Tip Up Higher
- Use Lighter Lure
- Wind Straight Away
- Count Down Technique
- Replace Treble Hooks With Singles
- Float Rig
- Floating Bait
- Cheap Lures
- Top Water Lures Instead Of A Deep Diving Lures
- Suspended Lures
- Fishing Line Type & Poundage
- Weedless Hooks & Rigs
- Weed Guards
- Fishing Weights & Sinkers
- Avoid Strong Currents
- Fish From A Boat Or Kayak
- Boat Position
- Use Depth Finder
- Retrieval Techniques
- Casting Techniques
- Wind & Weather
- Night Fishing & Local Knowledge
- Drought Map
- Be Aware Of Surroundings
- Pay The Piper
Keep Rod Tip Up Higher
If you are lure fishing and you are constantly getting snagged retrieving the lure in, try keeping the rod tip higher when winding in. This keeps the angle of the line and hence the lure higher in the water column when retrieving it.
This technique is good for over weed beds and rocky bottoms when fishing.
If you have a section of weed, then no weed, you can wind with the rod tip higher, then lower the rod tip close to the water when you have passed the weed.
Use A Lighter Lure
A heavier lure will normally sink faster, (depending on design) so switch to a lighter lure, so it sinks slowly.
When fishing soft plastics, change to a lighter weight jig head.
For fly fisherman and ladies, forget the weighted fly or bead headed nymphs and just go with an unweighted fly. Also you can use a more buoyant fly, like a muddler minnow pattern. If you use an intermediate fly line or sinking line, go with a floating fly line to keep the fly up higher in the water.
Here are some exceptions of a heavier lure and it will depend on profile and design.
Some heavy lures, like wide spoons will slowly flutter down and sink slowly. So if you want a heavy lure that you can still cast a fair way, try some different spoon designs / brands and see which ones will sink slowly for their weight.
Another exception is not so much the weight of a spinner, but use a wider blade inline spinner. As an example, Mepps Lures have a wide range of designs and lure models. A narrow inline spinner blade will sink quicker. Try a wider blade model like a Mepps Aglia Spinner, which has a wider blade that will keep it up higher in the water column when winding it.
Wind Straight Away
For fishing shallow water, instead of letting the lure sink (or fly), and get snagged, wind or retrieve the lure as it hits the water straight away.
If the fish are feeding up high in the water column, this idea helps as well.
Count Down Technique
This technique is great for fishing close to the bottom, or close to the top of the weed bed, where the fish might be feeding.
In this technique, you cast out the lure or fly and let it sink. As it is sinking you count until it hits the bottom. Once you know how long it takes until your lure hits the bottom, then you count a few seconds less and wind.
As an example you cast out and count for 5 seconds. You wind in the lure in and don’t feel any rocks or weed on your lure.
You then cast out again and count to 10 seconds, then wind in. This time you feel your lure hitting snags or you have weed on your lure, so you know you are close to the bottom.
This time you count to 8 seconds and wind the lure in and you don’t feel any rocks or weeds. This is your count that you then can use and have the lure fishing close to the bottom, but not get caught up all the time on weed or rocks.
If you change your fishing spot, you have to adjust your count for the new depth.
Replace Treble Hooks With Singles
If you are retrieving your crankbait or jerkbait and getting lots of weed, or snags, try swapping the treble hooks out for single hooks or double assist hooks.
Pictured below is a Tasmanian Devil lure. (Or Tassie Devil as it is called.) The treble hook has been replaced with a single hook.
You might have a couple of lures already rigged this way in your tackle box.
If you have 2 or 3 sets of trebles on the lure, you might even take one set of trebles off.
A fishing float for your bait fishing is ideal as it gets the bait off the bottom or midwater.
For several ways to rig a fishing float, click on – How To Set Up A Fishing Rod With A Float
If you use monofilament (mono) fishing line, grease your line so it floats and doesn’t sink and pull your float back. Braid line doesn’t need greasing.
You need the wind behind you, at your back when land angling. Or you can use it for minimal windy days.
The great thing about bait with a float is that as the wind slightly changes direction the bait will drift covering more water.
Pictured above is a Trout Magnet. For more information, visit – How To Fish A Trout Magnet
You can adjust the float for different depths of water to just keep off the bottom. Fishing tip – If the float isn’t drifting naturally, the hook might be snagged on weed.
Powerbait will normally float, so depending on the weight of your hook, you can use the floating bait to your advantage and keep it out of the weeds.
You might use a sinker weight rig to get the bait down close to the bottom, but use two pieces of Powerbait on a hook, so it floats the bait off the bottom.
Test this rig first to see if it floats okay. If it doesn’t float, try a lighter gauge hook, or more pieces of Powerbait.
You can set your bait with a paternoster rig so your floating bait and hook can be higher than the sinker.
This isn’t a technique to get snagged less, but accepting you will lose lures fishing in snaggy areas. One solution is to use cheap lures or damaged old ones. This is better on the wallet, then loosing expensive lures.
As an example, there is a channel I fish that has heaps of rocks and the fish are very close to the bottom. I have tried single hooks, lighter lures, weed guards, fishing a bit higher in the water column, etc., but to get to where the fish are feeding, you get snagged. So after losing a few lures I come to the conclusion that I will get snagged and lose lures if I want to catch these fish. It isn’t ideal, but the answer was putting a cheap lure on. Then if I did lose a cheap lure, it didn’t hurt as much financially as an expensive new brand one.
Also with a lot of cheaper lures, the hooks can bend as well, giving way to the snag, which is good. (But not great when you have a big fish on.)
A trade off with using low quality lures is there action isn’t as good as better quality brands.
Top Water Lures Instead Of Deep Diving Lures
If the fish are feeding near the surface, (or you can entice them up,) or in shallow water, try some top water lures, or shallow diving lures that won’t go down too deep and get snagged.
Some deep diving crankbaits and lures can dive too deep for the water depth and get caught up in the structure you are fishing.
Soft plastic frogs, poppers, stick baits, OSP Bent Minnow type lures, etc., are a good example of a surface / sub surface lures that will keep the lure high in the water column, or on the surface.
I love suspended minnows, as you can fish them slowly in shallow water, or deep water. I like fishing them just above weed beds, with the countdown method.
As the name suggest they suspend in the water and wont dive too deep, depending on your fishing line set up and lure design type.
Fishing Line Type & Poundage
An important factor to consider is the pound test of the line.
Using a line that is too heavy can make it more difficult to feel bites, but with too light of line, when you get snagged you will break off and lose your lure. So if you are fishing in snaggy areas, go for a heavier poundage line.
Selecting a slightly heavier poundage fishing line can give you confidence to pull out your bait or lure from weeds, without busting off.
The type of line is also important.
Monofilament line or mono for short is good, but can stretch a lot, so you may not feel you have been snagged for a second. (You can also buy low stretch mono.)
With braided line, you can feel the bites and snags straight away, because it has no or low stretch. But the downside is on windy days you can get a big bow / loop in it and the line can get tangled and snags easier if too much slack line.
Weedless Hooks & Rigs
Another option is to use weedless hooks when fishing soft plastics. This can be especially useful when fishing in areas with a lot of vegetation or near structure.
Rigging with weedless hooks are designed to prevent snags by hiding the point of the hook in the lure or bait.
Another option for is to choose a hook design to help reduce the chances of getting snagged. Circle hooks are good, because they are less likely to get snagged on rocks or vegetation as the tip isn’t exposed as much as a normal j-shape hook design.
Weed guards on your soft plastics or bucktail jigs can also be another idea to reduce snags.
Fishing Weights & Sinkers
For bait fishing, if you are getting bogged down in weed, try a lighter weight sinker, so it doesn’t sink as much in the weeds as a heavier one.
Try a different profile sinker as well.
Some sinker designs are also better resistant to snags then others. As an example, an egg sinker design will go through the weeds better than a surf anchor sinker, which is designed to hold into the sand.
A Paternoster rig (rather than a running sinker rig) is also another option where your bait and hook is connected higher on the fishing line.
You can also have the connection line to the sinker a lighter poundage, so if you do get snagged the sinker weight line will break off before your hook. This is handy if you get a big fish on, so the sinker line breaks, rather than lose your fish.
Sometime all you need is a small bit of split shot to help get your bait down, or keep it low when rolling it along the bottom of a river with the current. Light weight split shot can also be useful because they can be added or removed easily to adjust the depth of the bait.
Avoid Strong Currents
When strong currents flow, the fast water can move your line easy away into snags. Also you get some big debris, like branches or logs coming down the river, which can snag your line.
Try to fish away from the strong currents, into the slack water, bends and deep pools.
Fish From A Boat Or Kayak
Land angling can have its drawbacks for fishing around snags. As opposed to a boat, fishing float tube, or kayak which can maneuver around structure and snags. If you do get caught up, you can move the kayak or boat to help get off the snag.
You might be interested in these articles: Kayak Fishing Tips
If you’re fishing from a boat, how you position yourself can also affect your chances of getting snagged.
Depending on the conditions, try both fishing upstream or downstream. This will allow your bait to drift naturally with the current and reduce the risk of it getting caught on rocks or other obstructions.
When fishing from a kayak or other small boat, be especially mindful of your surroundings. A sudden gust of wind or current can quickly push you off the anchor point and drag your line into snags. So keep a close eye on your position and adjust as necessary.
A kayak anchor trolley can help you adjust the angle of the craft and hence you’re casting direction to cast more accurately in the direction you want to cast.
For more information visit – How To Set Up A Kayak For Fishing
Use A Depth Finder
If you’re fishing in a lake or reservoir, use your depth finder to locate drop-offs, submerged trees, and other structures that could cause your bait to get snagged. Fish close, but try to avoid right on these areas if possible.
We have talked about keeping your rod tip high when winding your line in, but there are other methods to avoid snags. Here are some ways, instead of just dragging your lure across the bottom, hop it. That is lift your rod tip up in a high arc that will lift the lure up off the bottom. You then wind as you lower the rod tip down. Repeat the process until you have wound in your lure.
Another way, is jigging. This is good for deep water, vertical fishing from a pier, or boat. Let your line out straight down, when you feel the bait or lure has hit the bottom, wind it up a few inches off the bottom. You can then jig the lure up and down vertically, ideally without getting any snags.
Here are some casting techniques that can help minimize the risk of getting snagged:
Avoid casting directly into cover or structure. Instead, aim for open pockets or edges. One important thing you can do to avoid snags is to cast accurately.
For casting near or under low hanging branches over the water, try skipping the lure under the branches into the hotspot where the fish are hiding.
Use a sidearm cast or underhand pitch to keep your bait closer to the water and reduce the chance of it getting caught in branches or other obstacles.
When casting with a baitcasting reel, adjust your spool tension and brake settings to prevent backlash, which can cause tangles and then getting snagged.
For fly fishing in enclosed spaces, like trees or shrubs beside you and behind you, try some casting techniques like the bow and arrow cast.
One important tip is to look up overhead, around and behind you for tree limbs. So when you do cast you are not going to get caught up on the back cast.
Wind & Weather
Fishing in the wrong conditions can also increase the risk of snagging. Fishing in areas with strong waves or wind can make it difficult to keep your line in the water and increase the risk of the line getting caught on something. Pay attention to the conditions and adjust your fishing technique accordingly.
Check the weather conditions before you head out. Strong winds or heavy rain can stir up debris and make it more difficult to fish without snagging your line.
Night Fishing & Local Knowledge
If you do a lot of fishing at night time, it can be difficult to see what is about. So do some trips during the daylight and see what hazards are around. (And good fishing areas.)
Also local knowledge of the area really helps into not only finding where the fish might be feeding, but also where rocky areas, or shallow weedy areas are you might want to avoid.
Drought Fishing Map
This is one for the hardcore angler. When the lakes and rivers have low water levels, take note of what structures, snags are exposed for now. You can also take photos, GPS marks or do a sketch map of the features and snags to fish close to and other ones to avoid when the lake or river fills back up with water.
Be Aware Of Surroundings
One of the most important things to keep in mind when fishing is to be aware of your surroundings.
Pay attention to the type of water you’re fishing in, the depth, and any obstacles that may be present. This will help you choose the right bait and fishing technique, as well as avoid areas where you’re more likely to get snagged.
If the water is clear enough, a pair of Polaroid Sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat may help you spot some snags. Fishing sunnies (Polaroids) are great for spotting fish as well in clear waters and avoiding dangerous obstacles when boating.
Pay The Piper
Fish love hanging around structure where food and shelter is. But that is where you can get snagged, so unfortunately, fishing where the fish are, you will get snagged.
So how do you avoid getting snagged while fishing all the time, sometimes you just have to accept to lose a lure now and then and this is the price of fishing. Or pay the piper, so to speak.
Understanding Fishing Snags
Snags are one of the most frustrating things that can happen while fishing, or losing a fish to one. They occur when your hook (on bait, lure or fly) gets caught on something underwater, such as rocks, logs, or weeds.
Another cause of snags is using the wrong type of equipment. Using too heavy weights or lures that dive too deep can increase the risk of snagging, as can using the wrong type of line. It’s important to use the right equipment for the type of fishing you’re doing and the conditions you’re fishing in.
Fishing can be a fun and relaxing activity, but getting snagged can quickly turn it into a frustrating experience. By following the fishing tips and ideas mentioned in this article, you can reduce the likelihood of getting snagged and increase your chances of catching fish.
With practice and patience, you can become a skilled angler who rarely gets snagged. Well… maybe less snags.
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