Avoid Short Strikes when Trolling, Spincasting, Fishing with Bait, and Flyfishing

Fish don't hit short. They eat by approaching their prey, popping their gills to create a vacuum, then opening their mouths and sucking in a volume of water that contains the target of their attack. A "short strike" occurs when a tight line prevents the fish from sucking in your lure. But how do you relieve the tension on your line to let the fish grab your bait, yet still detect strikes when you're...

  1. TROLLING Try turning your boat slightly back and forth to let your inside lines fall slack for a moment or two. When a rod starts bouncing up and down, grab it and set the hook.

  2. CASTING As you retrieve your lure, sweep the rod backward, then drop it forward to take the tension off the line. Be ready for a strike when you sweep back again.

  3. BAITFISHING Rig a worm or minnow on a couple of feet of slack leader between a dropper weight and your hook.

  4. FLYFISHING When you're casting a dry fly, aim at a target above the water so that your leader straightens out fully, then recoils slightly before it lands. This will leave a slight S curve ahead of the fly that allows a fish to suck it all the way into its mouth without meeting resistance. --JEROME B. ROBINSON