(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
In the bayous of Louisiana where Cliff Crochet learned to fish, finesse techniques fished on light line are not your friends. Braided line is king, the better to cut through all kinds of cane and vegetation and extract mean swamp bass from gnarly environments.
Just because braid has minimal stretch doesn’t mean it’s foolproof for setting the hook. Crochet still has to remind himself to maintain proper form and position so as not to miss valuable opportunities.
First, he wants his boat to be in the proper position. He picks an angle that will allow him to set the hook without obstructions, and then gets his body set properly, too. You want your shoulders squared, your feet balanced, and when flipping it’s best to keep your rod between the 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock position, which he refers to as “in the power zone.” He said it’s also critical to learn to cast with both hands to give yourself the best chance of solidly sticking your hook. Proper angles can also be achieved with solutions as simple as moving the trolling motor or just walking down the boat deck.
He said that everyone has a fishing partner who swings spastically, looking “like he’s on 17 Red Bulls.” You never want to be out of control. Instead, he cautioned, just “hit and drive.” If the fish is coming at you, you want to pick up line with the reel and then hit him with the rod. If he’s going away, use the rod first, the reel second.
When it comes to frogs, that’s when Crochet really brings out the heavy duty gear. He prefers 80-pound Seaguar braid, “the biggest you can get away with but still be able to cast.” He varies his hookset depending on whether he’s fishing in open water or heavy vegetation. In the former case, he waits until the frog disappears to set the hook. In the latter instance, he waits a bit longer. “Give him a little bit of slack and then hit him and drive it home,” he said. “Left foot to right shoulder.” While there are times when long casts are necessary, he prefers to keep them “short and sweet” to maximize his power and minimize the fight. Once the fish is on, he doesn’t want to give it any time to thrash around, especially in grass. “Fighting a fish in the grass is like arguing with a 3-year-old,” he said.
With buzzing toads, he’ll go down to 50- or 65-pound braid, and cautioned that the biggest mistake an angler can make is to have his rod tilted down. You want it at 1 o’clock or 2 o’clock, “as high as I can be and still be in control.” When the fish boils, you “need to let him eat it a little.” With his rod high, it forces him to drop it a bit before he slams it home. The combination of a soft rod and stretch-free braid works wonders. While he prefers a high-speed reel, he noted that anything faster than 7:1 seems to lose a little bit of power, so that’s as high as he’ll go for these heavy-line, heavy-cover presentations.
If you want to know more about Crochet's precise tackle choices for braided line techniques, check out his full video seminar on frogging and flipping, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.