August 2020 Techniques

Crappie Tips: Don’t Reel So Far, by Richard Simms

No matter what kind of fish you are catching, never reel in too much line when landing the fish. In general, you want to stop reeling when your line is about two-thirds of the length of your rod. (Photo: Richard Simms)


Crappie Tips: Don’t Reel So Far

When it comes to reeling in fish there can be too much of a good thing.

by Richard Simms


Reeling a fish too far – as a fishing guide, I see it happen time and time again, even by somewhat experienced anglers.

It is apparently a natural instinct for many anglers – especially beginners – to reel a fish all the way up to the rod tip, or at least very close. This can be bad, sometimes very bad.

Try and lift a fish out of the water when it is reeled right to rod tip can easily snap a rod tip off. This is especially true with extra-long crappie rods. A fish near the rod tip puts all the strain on the tip, the weakest part of any fishing rod.

But if you leave an ample amount of line out when you lift the fish the strain on the rod is transferred back to the mid-point of the rod and it is far less likely to snap. This is the same reason you never grab your rod near the tip to lift a fish. Always hold the butt-end  (reel end) of the rod, lift and swing the fish to you like a pendulum

Secondly, if you need to net or lip the fish while still in the water, it is much easier if you have some line to work with. If the fish is reeled to the very tip it can be hard or impossible to net or grab.

As a general rule of thumb you want to stop reeling when your line is about two-thirds of length of your rod. With a seven-foot rod you want four feet of line still out when you land or lift the fish. With a 16-foot crappie rod you want 12 feet of line still out. Holding the butt end of the rod simply lift it straight over your head and swing the fish to you like a pendulum – either into your hand, or if it’s a big one, into the net.

More on this and other great tips available in the book “Limiting Out for Crappie.”

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