Trout In Net


Here are three common causes of lost fish and some simple suggestions on how you can prevent them from happening to you.


Knot failure is one of the most common mistakes inexperienced anglers make. In fact, poorly tied knots are probably the one mistake which leads to more lost fish than any other.

One of the best ways to eliminate the chance of knot failure is to do all your rigging up at home before you head off on your fishing trip. At home in the shed, you can take your time, and make sure all your knots are well lubricated and snugged down tight.

If you wait till you get out on the water, you are not only wasting valuable fishing time, you will be more likely to rush or take shortcuts. You are also not likely to be giving the job your complete attention.

In my experience, if you aren’t 100% happy with a knot when you tie it, you should cut it off and redo it straight away. That’s the only way you can have complete confidence in it and be prepared to put it under maximum pressure.


While the end result is the same, there are basically four reasons why your line or leader might break.

The first is old age. Both mono and braid wear over time and exposure to sunlight can weaken them to an alarming extent. If your line is more than a season or two old and you are having any trouble tying reliable knots in it (particularly when tying on a new leader), replace it as it is already seriously damaged and can’t be trusted.

The next reason is stress. Every time you hook and fight a good fish, get snagged or simply have to pull hard against your line, you stress it and remove some of its elasticity. The point which receives the most stress is the leader or very end section of the line which has probably already been slightly weakened by friction when the knot was tied. This is the point that is most likely to break first.

I make a habit of cutting off my lure or clip after every decent fish and retying it. That way I know my leader is not likely to break when the pressure is on.

A faulty drag is the next most likely culprit. If your drag doesn’t yield line smoothly or goes from light to lock up too quickly, take it to a reputable tackle shop and get it serviced. Of course, sometimes the reason a drag is faulty comes down to operator error. This is a bit easier to prevent. Simply don’t screw it down so hard next time.

The last reason is wear and tear during a fight. There’s not much you can do to avoid this except to make sure you use a suitable leader for the fish you are chasing. If it has sharp teeth, sharp spines or edges or abrasive surfaces, then you need to run some heavier leader to deal with it.


Inexperienced anglers are prone to panicking at the end of the fight, particularly when a good fish is thrashing around almost at their feet. Often they tighten up the drag to try and stop the fish from getting away but this is almost guaranteed to lead to disaster.

When you have hooked and played out a trophy fish, it’s important to have a landing plan and then follow it calmly. Your landing equipment (net or gaff) should be close by and ready to deploy. You should have chosen a location where you can safely slip the net or gaff under the fish and lift it onto the bank or into the boat in the one smooth motion.

Of course, you should also resist the urge to tighten the drag. At the end of the fight, there is a minimal amount of line between you and the fish and very little give in the system. If the fish makes a sudden or unexpected lunge, it can easily snap the line.

It’s actually a good idea to reduce the drag pressure slightly as you get the fish closer, provided there are no snags or obstacles nearby. It’s also a great idea to open the bail arm or back the drag right off once the fish has been landed and you need to put the rod down to unhook it. This can help to avoid damaging the rod tip and to reduce the chance of you sticking hooks into yourself while handling the fish.



Do you have any tips for regular problems that crop up when fishing? Share with everyone through the comments section below.

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Dave Magner

Dave is a keen and experienced lure and fly angler who has travelled and fished right across Australia and New Zealand. He particularly enjoys tournament bass fishing, chasing freshwater species from his kayak and bluewater pelagics from his boat.