It happens to the best of us, no matter what you think, you’ll line up the perfect cast, set yourself and end up casting into the tree. Blame the wind, blame your line, rod or reel, blame whatever you like, you still end up with a hook or set of trebles stuck in a tree. So what do you do?
Most of the time, you can either pick your lure out of the scrub or even break off the hook and leave it where it lies but if you’re fishing with braid, often you’ll have a new leader to tie on and if the said tree or scrub is actually a moored boat, you leave the risk of someone hooking themselves.
You might consider yourself a great caster or a complete novice but it happens to every one of us who fish around structure. This probably sounds like an advertisement selling you a new fandangled lure retriever or type of lure but it’s not.
Fishing weedless isn’t a new technique, it’s not new to me but it has saved me from plenty of embarrassing moments. It has its draw backs too but it is a really useful way of getting lures into gnarly situations with less risk of losing gear.
Hiding the hook point, in the belly of the soft plastic means that you have less chance of burying the hook point into rope or branches and increases the chance of you being able to hop it over the obstacle. As long as it doesn’t wrap itself around anything, it should be fairly easy just to slowly wind the lure back.
The downside of weedless is the need to pay close attention to the lure and line, watching for a tell-tale bite and then having to set the hook relatively hard to penetrate the body of the soft plastic and then the mouth of the fish. In most instances, the fish WON’T hook itself but will need to be hooked, unlike conventional jigheads and hooks. Tiny bumps and pecks will generally leave you pretty frustrated as well.
I’ve found weighted weedless presentations to have even less feel, it seems that the weighted hook doesn’t transfer the bite as effectively as an unweighted presentation but sometimes you’ll want to fish it deep and feeling the bite is imperative for setting the hooks.
The next challenge to overcome is the choice of mono or braid, mono (or fluorocarbon) provides a more natural presentation with a near vertical sinking action, while braid tends to float and drags the lure in a forward motion (often away from the target). This is contrasted by mono having stretch, meaning the bite might not be so easily detected, compared to braid with virtually no stretch, where the bite is very easily detected and hooks can be set quickly.
This can be counteracted by using a sensitive fishing rod, most of my weedless presentations are fished on a Daiwa Battler Noodle Master, I find the AGS to be exceptional in transferring the bite from the line to my fingertips via the fishing rod and is fast enough to get the hook into the fish as quickly as possible. I tend to use the mono approach too, this presents the lure in its most natural form and I also follow the belief of fishing as light as the situation will allow.
Like any form of fishing and any style that you choose, having the right setup and approach can overcome some of the challenges that we face, casting can be improved through practice, correct rod selection (whether that be rod length or rod action) and using weedless setups can help with confidence to cast to structure but also get you out of a bad cast more effectively.