Reader Questions: Betting on Burbot, Beating Backlash, and Breaking off Braid

Q: Please help me settle a bet. My friend says there's a kind of freshwater cod. I say codfish only live in saltwater. Who's right?

A: You lose. Burbot, also called ling, lawyer, cusk, or eelpout, is the one and only freshwater member of the cod family. They're common in cold, deep-water lakes from New England to the Columbia Basin, as well as across Canada. They look vaguely like a cross between a catfish and an eel, with adults commonly weighing 1 to 3 pounds.

Q: I recently got hung up on the bottom while baitfishing with high-strength superbraid and couldn't break the darn line. I wound up cutting it. Any advice?

A: If you're using superbraids, always carry a short length of ¾-inch-diameter wooden dowel. To recover from a snag, make several wraps of line around the dowel and then pull. Don't ever try to break off by tugging directly on the reel. Freshwater reels, especially, aren't built for the kind of stress it takes to haul superbraid free of a snag. Don't yank directly with your fingers, either, which will be sliced by the fine-diameter line. I've done it, and it's not fun.

Q: When I'm cranking my spinning reel, a loop of slack sometimes forms on the side of the spool. On the next cast, I get a tangle. What am I doing wrong?

A: When you click the bail closed after a cast and start reeling, sometimes slack line forms a loop that gets wound against the spool's side. The answer is to prevent that slack from happening. At the end of a cast, try raising your rod tip sharply as you close the bail and begin turning the handle. This should end your problems. Well, maybe not all your problems.