Handling Bass Jumps

Posted by MNAngler On October - 7 - 2010

While I occasionally target walleye and muskie when I’m out on the water, my favorite species to fish for are bass. They are feisty, unpredictable, and like to put on a show.

They are the most fun to catch because they are hard fighters and love to jump out of the water. The reason for the acrobatics, of course, is because they are fighting for their lives. Instinctively, they know that jumping out of the water gives them the best chance to shake the hook out of their mouth.

As a bass fisherman, I’ve lost my share of bass during the jump. The most memorable was last summer when I dropped a fluke under an overhanging tree. The smallie hit the lure so hard, my drag screamed. I set the hook and the fight was on. About half way to the boat, the girl did an acrobatic flip at least a foot above the water and she was gone.

I’ve talked to a few fisherman about how to handle these jumps since then and have gotten various advice. The most curious was that a friend told me that the pros “bow” to the fish. That is, they point the rod tip down.

This seems counterintuitive to me. Maybe it’s just my naiveté as a recreational angler, but I would think you would want to effectively set the hook again. The jump puts slack into the line and I wouldn’t think pointing the rod tip down would take up that slack. Wouldn’t pulling on the line keep it tight and in the fish’s mouth?

Losing bass to jumps is a fact of life. But what methods/techniques do you use to minimize your losses? Please leave a comment and maybe we can all pull in a few extra fish.

[Author's note: The photo above was taken by Albert Lavallee. He was gracious enough to give me permission to use one of his photos. He has a whole gallery of jumping largemouth bass that are nothing short of amazing. I encourage you to check it out.]

6 Responses to “Handling Bass Jumps”

  1. When fishing for tarpon in FL this summer we went out with two different guides (awesome ones at that), and they said to bow to a jumping tarpon. Granted they were hooked with circle hooks instead of J hooks (which is what we use to fish for bass with), so I don’t know if that makes a difference, but tarpon are alot like bass in the way their mouths are constructed and the way they fight I feel like, so maybe bowing to bass does work.

  2. Wolfy says:

    There is one species of fish i’ve been instructed to “bow” to , and that’s tarpon. I’ve always figured it was to get a little slack in the line so you reduce the odds of them landing on your taut line and snapping it that way. If they are going to throw the hook – they will. (Although it is MUCH less likely with a circle hook) But they jump so high and twist so much that they often land on the line. Never bowed to sailfish, or marlin, or dorado.

    I’ve never done anything special with bass. When I fished tournaments, I learned that you could dissuade a bass from making a jump by jamming your rod in the water and pulling it down as the fish was trying to come up for a jump. It kept them from doing the big head-shaking, gill-rattling jumps they are known for. They would either not jump at all, or wallow a little on the surface.

    Now that I don’t fish tournaments any more, I’d rather see the bass jump and get off than not see them jump!

  3. I keep constant tension on the line, when they jump, I try and match their direction with my rod tip (they jump up and to the left, my rod tip goes up and to the left). I rarely lose a fish on the jump. If you get a good solid hookset, I don’t think that bass is coming off no matter what it does :)

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fishing In Pa and MNAngler, MNAngler. MNAngler said: My latest post involves getting advice on how to handle a jumping bass: http://bit.ly/cwiFs1 [...]

  5. I tend to reel like mad when they jump. One of the other Average Joes is a bass fisherman. He posted some funny stuff a little while ago. I try to get out a few times a year with him. I am still learning how to fish bass.

    The Average Joe Fisherman

  6. bassdem says:

    I instinctively lower my rod tip. Keeps them from jumping. Has saved me quite a few times. I can feel when they want to surface, so I just beat them to the punch. I’ll manhandle little ones who do jump, often skipping them across the surface with a good yank and some quick turns of my 7:1 reel. If they are bigger, I won’t risk it.

    I had one throw me in March of ’09 that looked to be in the 5 to 7lb range. I blogged about it. This bass came out of the water on me backwards and upside down. What a sight that was. The fight was over in a matter of seconds. I didn’t have a chance to drop my rod tip. As soon as I set the hook, the bass became a rocket. Sometimes it’s definitely unavoidable.

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