Merwin: Avoid Hang-Ups in Shallow Streams

Here's one for the ultralight-spinning folks. Specifically, how to cast midget spinning lures into areas of very shallow water without getting stuck on the bottom.

The problem typically occurs in the low waters of late-summer or early-autumn trout or smallmouth-bass streams, where long and shallow clear pools are interspersed with short riffles. The trout or bass are in the pools. Ultralight gear is perfect for making a long cast that won't spook them. But typically, by the time you start a retrieve your spoon, spinner, or little jig has sunken into the shallow rocks. So you're stuck.

Try this. Just as the lure is about to hit the water, extend the index finger of your rod hand to the spinning-reel spool to stop the line coming off the spool. At the same time, sweep the rod upward to start the lure traveling toward you immediately. Then with your left hand crank the reel to close the bail and retrieve normally. By this method, the lure is working as soon as it hits the water instead of sinking and snagging.

The same technique will also work in lakes and ponds when casting over barely submerged weeds that would otherwise tangle you lure. It's a tip I first learned from an A.J. McClane article in this magazine back in the early 1960s. I am honored to pass it along.