Anglers whiff on fish for any number of reasons. In most instances, these miscues can be pared down to four common culprits. Master these and you’ll be less likely to be caught telling stories about the one that got away.

#1 – Incorrect Line
Each and every rod is designed and built to handle a specific weight (poundage) range of fishing lines and lures. This range is determined by mathematical modeling using guide type, guide placement, guide count, guide diameter, blank length, blank wall thickness, flexure, reel placement on the seat, butt length and style.

Each blank is graded and stamped with the correct line and lure weight for that individual rod. These guidelines are provided to help the angler get the most performance out of the rod. Throwing the wrong line or lure weight results in shorter casts and considerably increased line fouling (backlashes and rat-nests) as line does not feed off the reel at the correct pace. Always match your line and lure to the recommended weight for the individual rod.

# 2 – Improperly Sized Hook
Fishing the wrong size hook will reduce hook-up ratios by a minimum of 75 percent. Hooks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each is designed for a specific fishing application. The most common mistake made by fishermen is using the wrong size hook for their line weight and rod action.

Remember when choosing a hook, if you’re using light line, you must use a light wire gauge hook. Light line is incapable of exerting much pressure on the hook so light-gauge wire is required to drive the barb home.

Heavier lines require heavier gauge hooks. If you are using light gauge hooks with heavy line, the hook shank will bend and flex under the hook set pressure, pulling free from the fish’s mouth.

#3 – Poor Drag Selection
More fish have been lost, or worse yet, never hooked, due to the drag being set incorrectly. While it is a bit of voodoo science, anyone can learn to set a drag correctly with a bit of practice. The simple rule of thumb is this: set the drag looser for light line applications and heavier for heavy lines. In addition, when fishing braids, keep in mind that there is next to no stretch. Set your drag looser than you would for mono or fluorocarbon lines.

#4 – Poor Hook Sets
Bungling a hook set is common. I’ve seen folks wind-up and jerk their rod so hard they almost come out of their shoes and shirt. Remember, light lines and small wire diameter hooks require gentler hook sets, while heavier lines and heavy gauge hooks require more stout hook sets. However, given today’s chemically sharpened hooks, you never need to over-muscle a hook set.

Have you got any other common miscues? If so, we’d like to hear about them in the comments section below.