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I’m an expert at losing BIG bass. While I’ve caught hundreds it came at a price. Think of a way to lose a trophy fish and I’ve done it. Here’s my list of the easiest and most common errors that can cost you that bruiser bass. Hope you can learn from my experiences and put your bragging size bass on the bump board with these tips.
 Not the sharpest hook in the tackle box – Big bass have thick jaws and penetrating that spot requires several factors not the least being a sharp hook. Everything works in concert for a great hook set, the rod, the line and the hook. Hardest to set, crankbait. Most efficient, single hook baits. All hooks should be touched up with a diamond file hook sharpener. Different versions of these sharpeners are available in stores or through on-line vendors. At five to ten dollars this is a solid investment for your fishing (catching) future. Before paddling off in the kayak make sure all hooks are “sticky” sharp.

 Don’t go nuts over knots- Learn a few knots and follow the same procedure each time. Recommended knots for all lures and line types, the Palomar knot and the improved clinch knot. Both are relatively easy (You Tube or Google) and effective. Tied properly these knots give 90 or 95% knot strength. As you tie, make sure you follow the same pattern and if you think you’ve made an error, retie! Run the line through the tie and moisten before you pull tight, this reduces friction/heat, the enemy of line. Monofilament has superior knot strength, fluorocarbon is low stretch but knot strength is not the strong suit, braid has great strength but can slip and requires double knots. Pick a few knot types, learn them well and retie when you’ve compromised the line in any way or caught a few fish.

 No sissy hook sets- Pushing a sharpened hook, with a superior knot into the jaw of that bass requires a well set hook. To accomplish a professional hook set, consider the bait, the rod and the correct form. Multiple hook lures, crankbaits use a sweeping motion. Spinnerbaits and Carolina rigged plastics also use the wide sweep. Feel baits, jigs, soft plastics worms, craws, swimbaits and such call for the over the shoulder, cross their eyes, hard slamming set. Single hook lures are an all or nothing proposition. Flexing rods for crank, spinners and others, feel baits ideally on stiffer, longer rods and heavier line positions you to boat that bass. Rule of thumb: baits moved with reel, sweeping set, baits moved with the rod, solid fast moving, over the shoulder set.

 Play on Player – Once you have the big bass securely hooked, because of the stellar hook set you can relax. Ding-Ding-Ding, uh No, thanks for playing the game. This is the moment of truth. Don’t panic. Keep the rod tip up and back to apply steady pressure. If the line is pointed directly at the fish, she working against the line instead of the rod, advantage bass. Don’t try to adjust the drag now. Follow the fish and turn her head in the opposite direction every chance that you can. Get out your highlighter, keep the line plunged down in the water if possible. Now your prize is fighting water pressure instead of air! A big bass more than likely has been hooked several times, they get experience along with their natural instincts which will send them searching for heavy cover, use pressure to work them towards open water. Resist the temptation to grab the line and stick that thumb securely into the lower jaw of your trophy.

Once you’ve picked the lure, cast the bait into the strike zone and tempted your “wallhanger” to inhale your artificial offering apply all these trophy bass tactics and you will have an eye popping picture to show instead of sad fish tale to tell about the one that got away.