Lost Opportunities

Start catching the ones that got away.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

It's frustrating to miss a strike, especially on those days when getting a bass to take a lure is a chore in the first place. What can you do differently to get a hook-up? That depends on whether the bass don't have enough of a chance, or you or your tackle is at fault. Consider the following reasons why you might miss strikes, and the possible remedies.

Poor HookSetting
If the rod has a heavy or medium/ heavy action, use a snap-set: Lower the rod toward the water to allow a few inches of slack, then snap the wrists to build rod speed and bring the rod tip back sharply. If the rod has a medium or light action, use a sweep-set: Sweep the rod across the body or above shoulder height by pivoting body and arms to set the hook.

Buried HookPoint
After missing a bass that hit a Texas-rigged or Carolina-rigged soft-plastic lure, look at the bait. If the hookpoint is still buried in the body of the lure, either the hookset was not forceful enough, the bass grabbed the bait below the hook, the hook is the wrong size for the bait or the hookpoint is dull. Solutions: 1) Use a hook whose gap is about half again as wide as the depth of the bait's body (remember, though, that larger hooks require a harder set); 2) skin-hook the bait along the side so the point is barely covered and requires slight pressure to expose it; or 3) use chemically sharpened hooks, or make sure the points of standard hooks are kept sharp with a file or Arkansas stone.

Losing Focus
Late in the day, it's easy to get lackadaisical and miss a strike. Stay focused and maintain alertness on every cast. Drink plenty of water and eat nourishing food during the day to maintain your energy level.

Coy Bass
If bass are turning away from a topwater bait, or only nipping at a lure and missing the hooks, try: 1) Speeding up or slowing down the retrieve; 2) adding stinger hooks to spinnerbaits and buzzbaits to catch short-strikers; 3) selecting smaller lures to match forage better; or 4) changing lure colors.

Wrong Rod
Use rods that match your lures and techniques. Rods with medium/ heavy action are usually the best choice for most applications. Longer rods (61/2 to 7 feet) set hooks better than shorter rods, especially when the wind puts a bow in the line. The leverage afforded by longer rods gives you the chance to take up slack faster and sink the hook deeper.