Bad Beats

benwah22

Member
Aug 16, 2016
475
1,087
South Florida
Name
Benny Ortiz
Boat
Whatever one I'm on.
A lot of talk about tackle and techniques here, but something that I haven't seen come up is what are everyone's bad beats when it comes to slow pitch. What I mean by this is, you hook into something - could be a monster, could be something else - but for whatever reason, you lost the fish. I know I've had plenty. The bad part about them is that you'll wake up two months later thinking about that fish you lost. The good part is that it's a teachable moment, and you can use what went wrong in the future to make sure it doesn't go wrong again. So, for this thread, let's hear the scenario with as many facts as possible, and what happened to lose the fish. I think this will help keep some of this information in the mind of the folks on here when they're on the water and hopefully result in more fish landed. I'll go first.

Fishing in Pulley Ridge in about 240ft of water. Line was starting to scope out on the drift, and I was using a technique to pull back and drop the jig to get a few more contacts with the bottom. Bang, hit by a monster that makes a powerful run down and away from the boat. It was a complete "oh shit" moment, and my instinct was to put as much heat as I could put on the fish with my drag, including thumbing the spool, to try to keep it out of whatever rocks it was swimming towards. As I applied a liiiiiittle more pressure with my thumb, pop. Gone.

I kicked myself for a while because I realized it was probably a large black grouper that did it. Leader wasn't chaffed, and the knot at my leader had simply broke under the stress - no curly-ques at the end. What I learned is that you've got a better shot letting the drag do its work on the initial run, and to use an educated thumb once you back off the drag after the fish starts coming up. I've implemented this type of tactic since, and have had better results in landing larger fish trusting the equipment and my drag, rather than put too much heat on that first blistering run.
 
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Tunahead

Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    11,784
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    Name
    Ron
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    several
    With Bluefin being Bluefin, hell tuna being tuna, jumping dorado, etc...
    sometimes they just come unhooked.
    BIG SIGH!!!! LOL LOL
     
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    Tunahead

    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    11,784
    5,417
    Costa Mesa
    Name
    Ron
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    several
    A lot of talk about tackle and techniques here, but something that I haven't seen come up is what are everyone's bad beats when it comes to slow pitch. What I mean by this is, you hook into something - could be a monster, could be something else - but for whatever reason, you lost the fish. I know I've had plenty. The bad part about them is that you'll wake up two months later thinking about that fish you lost. The good part is that it's a teachable moment, and you can use what went wrong in the future to make sure it doesn't go wrong again. So, for this thread, let's hear the scenario with as many facts as possible, and what happened to lose the fish. I think this will help keep some of this information in the mind of the folks on here when they're on the water and hopefully result in more fish landed. I'll go first.

    Fishing in Pulley Ridge in about 240ft of water. Line was starting to scope out on the drift, and I was using a technique to pull back and drop the jig to get a few more contacts with the bottom. Bang, hit by a monster that makes a powerful run down and away from the boat. It was a complete "oh shit" moment, and my instinct was to put as much heat as I could put on the fish with my drag, including thumbing the spool, to try to keep it out of whatever rocks it was swimming towards. As I applied a liiiiiittle more pressure with my thumb, pop. Gone.

    I kicked myself for a while because I realized it was probably a large black grouper that did it. Leader wasn't chaffed, and the knot at my leader had simply broke under the stress - no curly-ques at the end. What I learned is that you've got a better shot letting the drag do its work on the initial run, and to use an educated thumb once you back off the drag after the fish starts coming up. I've implemented this type of tactic since, and have had better results in landing larger fish trusting the equipment and my drag, rather than put too much heat on that first blistering run.
    YES trust your drags. Tuna have no bladder...they can run deep, back up, run deep again. The more runs the less oxygen they have and easier to get to the boat. Don't
    "Cowboy" them at color, take it easy!
     

    Proteus

    Almost A Member
  • Jun 19, 2020
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    Name
    Proteus
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    The charter with the best price.
    Don't hate, but I can't remember losing many fish doing SPJ.

    Only time was a recent trip where there was a wide open Lingcod bite, hooked up on some good size ones but let one break the surface at the boat, they notoriously go ballistic when their head hits the air and shake the hook, this one did.

    Outside of that, the two assist hook system has worked well for me and I rarely come up empty handed.
     
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    LightHouseEng

    Newbie
    Dec 3, 2020
    16
    30
    Oakland
    Name
    R
    Boat
    none
    I was on a 4 day aboard the RP this past July. 0 for 2 on spj for bluefin when I finally wised up and bumped up my leader to 60lb seaguar. I was able to hook up my redemption bluefin but at deep color I lost it to a sea lion. Luckily I didn’t lose my jig the third time. Pretty good learning experience
     
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    streetnfish

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Jun 7, 2009
    1,078
    2,592
    south pasadena
    Name
    Ray
    Boat
    Float tube
    I used to cast my jigs out downwind to compensate for some of the windy days we get. No problem with my Trinidad 16N. When I got my first Ocea Jigger I kept doing the same. Few years ago, early in the morning on the rockfish opener, I really let one fly. The jig shot out about 15 feet and the reel went into gear. (auto engage with handle turn). I saw the jig coming back at my face (had on sunglasses) and put up my hand instinctively. Jig hit my hand with a hard Wack ! I was initially happy that my quick reaction saved my face but soon realized that I now had a 5/0 assist hook buried in my palm up to the bend ! (No way to push through)
    I knew that If I didn't get it out soon, it was gonna swell up and get tight meaning a sure trip to the hospital. Got the capt to get a pair pliers and while I pushed down on the shank, he gave it few hard pulls. It took about 3 or 4 tries but we got it out and I had to lay down for a couple of minutes while the dizziness faded. Cleaned it up, a little antiseptic, and I was soon a little wiser and back at the rail on my way to a nice opening day limit. Nice careful underhand lobs from then on 🤫
     
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    esgeo
    esgeo
    Whoa- Scary lesson for sure! Glad it ended up only being a minor mishap!
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    esgeo

    over 40 victim of fate
    Feb 12, 2015
    549
    676
    Tulsa, OK
    Name
    Eric
    Boat
    Feelfree Lure 11.5
    One common experience I’ve had involves hooking up on the jig and then having fish come unbuttoned within the first few minutes of the fight. I’ve actually had this happen more while speed/yo-yo jigging for tuna, but also had it happen this summer on a healthy feeling lingcod.

    My guess as to what is happening to make the fish come off is simply the initial hookset is not secure (I generally fish in-line single not treble hooks on tuna and top/bottom single assist hooks on sp jigs) and enough movement on the fish’s part allows the hook to come free.

    To compensate for this, I’ve developed a habit of doing a quick sharp double or triple pump on the rod once I’m sure I’m bit (I actually picked this up after watching some of hardcor’s videos where he is doing this with j hooks on bait), which ends up limiting the amount of fish that come off after hookset. I’ve hooked and landed a lot of tunas on vertical jigs this way, but spj is a new gig for me and I didn’t instinctively translate this trick to spj fishing.

    So, on a trip this past summer I was fishing a 250 g mustad staggerbod jig and as soon as I was on bottom I started to work the jig up and got hammered after just a couple pitches. I was fishing an innovate mh with a saltist 30t, maybe 200-250’ of water and there was a pretty decent drift. Lingcod seem pretty obvious to me on the jig, they generally double over the rod and start ripping line, and this one did exactly that. Rather than add any sudden force, I just slowly lifted the rod so it was loaded and tightened the drag a bit and started winding. I got some headway on the fish but it still was a bit of a tug of war, and after maybe 45 seconds the fish just came off. I was probably 60’ off bottom at that point. I tried to drop back to the bottom to get bit again but no luck. A few drops later with a different jig (shout 250g flash) I got another lingcod bite but this one I did my double pump to as soon as I knew the fish was on, and got this one to the gaff. My guess is just the hook gets slightly lodged on the initial strike, but the sharp loading tests that hookset and sometimes sets it deeper.

    Good topic, thanks for starting it and look forward to comparing to and learning from others experiences.
     

    yessokk

    Luck favors the well prepared.
    Sep 18, 2006
    1,287
    1,967
    Costa Mesa, Cailf
    Name
    Walt
    Boat
    11 ft Sears W/Duel 5.2hp
    Have lost my fair share Yellow Tail and Tuna usually to pulled hooks but one is a stand out.
    Had been fishing bait successfully for Blue Fin for most all of our off shore day and a half trip. Jigging was on hold as the Blue Fin would never come under the boat. The sun goes down and its getting time to hit the bunk, about 9 pm, when the Captain come on the horn and states that there is finally a good school of BF directly under the boat at 300ft. The wind is light and no current we are almost stationary in the water. Immediately pull out my jigging stick. Attach a River to Sea Turkey Slider 180 gm Green/Gold/Glow. It's a rear weighted unit, perfect to get down fast to the 300 ft. depth the BF were holding. Using my metered 40lb test (64lb bk strength)braid with a 20ft 40lb fluoro leader, hit the 300 ft mark and start a med speed jigging motion and within 3-4 pumps I get hooked up to a stationary object, but we are in 2000 ft. of water..... Hook Up!!! Yahooo. After about 20min. we get color, its now a foot under the surface doing the death spiral thing,
    est. wt. 100-150 lbs, the deck hand lowers the gaff, the BF is now 4ft from the gaff and the jig pops loose and the BF , very calmly, just turns away and swims down a foot or two turns around looks me dead in the eye and gives me the middle fin before continuing down into the depths.

    Walt
     
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    Heartoak

    Member
    Jun 13, 2018
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    Jeff
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    Nothing earth shattering here but I have learned a few lessons from the ones that got away.

    To begin with I tend to fish as light as I think I can get away with. So my first few dedicated SPJ rigs were light Goofish rods fitted with Komodo 364 reels and 20# braid. We mainly concentrated on 200' to 300' depths for assorted Rockfish. We caught some decent fish and lost some others. A few times I hooked what felt like decent lingcod but they came unbuttoned during the fight.

    Frustrating stuff......considering that we caught some very nice vermillions that stayed hooked. But If you consider how a decent ling can and will fight maybe not so surprising. After several loses I decided to up my game with tackle that is better suited to the challenge. My little Komodos have a retrieve rate of around 22" to 24" per turn. I now have a few different light weight jigging reels that have a more optimum retrieve rate of 38" to 45"per turn. I have also invested in some really nice rods.

    These reels really makes a difference in how much easier it is to keep slack out of your line and stay in contact with your jig/fish. It also makes it much easier to bring your line in quickly when it is time to reposition etc. It is a huge difference and really makes SPJ fishing much more fun.

    Another lesson learned from some of the fish that have got away is I am now much more careful to fish with extremely sharp hooks. And since we are limited to 2 hooks here I pay very close attention to hook placement which depends on jig type and bottom conditions. I have a really good selection of Assist hooks and have gotten very proficient at switching rigging.

    These things have helped a lot. There will always be fish that get away......but I feel much better equipped than when I started.

    Jeff
     
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    yessokk

    Luck favors the well prepared.
    Sep 18, 2006
    1,287
    1,967
    Costa Mesa, Cailf
    Name
    Walt
    Boat
    11 ft Sears W/Duel 5.2hp
    [IMG alt="benwah22"]https://www.bdoutdoors.com/forums/data/avatars/s/191/191173.jpg?1530639042[/IMG]
    benwah22
    What would you have done differently, if anything?

    In the last few years one of my main pursuits has been to make sure
    "No Hooked Fish Gets Left Behind" ... !! Have had some good success at reducing but not entirely eliminating lost fish. The episode in my post above was a real wake up call. The following are changes that have been incorporated.

    Hooks: Regardless of what hook is used everything gets sharpened. If it does not stick to my thumb nail without any pressure its is not sharp enough. You would be surprised how few out of the box hooks pass this test. A diamond hone 1000 grit is used to finish the point.

    Have concluded that "most" pulled hooks are a result of either minimal penetration in the bony calcified section of the jaw or excessive pressure put on the fish in the last 15ft of the battle. With a short section of line to the hook all of the stretch and give of the system has been drastically reduced to almost nothing. That's when the extra shot of adrenaline kicks in and we subconsciously start to muscle the fish to the gaff. Try and guide the fish in rather then the
    power pull approach. Patience is required here.

    Make sure a fresh leader is attached for every trip and most importantly re-tie at the jig after every fish over 20 lbs no matter how smooth your leader feels from the hook up 2 feet. And do all rigging after boarding your charter. Rigging at home is relaxing but leaders can get inadvertently damaged during storage and travel. As long as leaders are the topic would strongly suggest that long leaders are used 18-20 ft , longer is OK but not shorter. There is technical reasoning behind this based on vibration transmission but the detailed explanation is for another topic.

    And probably the most effective change was going from a single assist hook at the top of the jig to 2 assit hooks on the top and the bottom of the jig. The lost Blue Fin at the gaff was a single assist hook at the top only. Since switching to 2 on top and 2 on the bottom have lost maybe one can't remember for sure. When those big pelagics hit that jig they suck the whole thing in,,, little chance of escape using 4 hooks.
    Am constantly searching for ways to improve hook up to landing ratio, if anyone has thoughts it would be appreciated.

    Walt
     
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    benwah22

    Member
    Aug 16, 2016
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    Benny Ortiz
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    Whatever one I'm on.
    Have concluded that "most" pulled hooks are a result of either minimal penetration in the bony calcified section of the jaw or excessive pressure put on the fish in the last 15ft of the battle.
    I think this is right on the money based on my experience as well. A lot of folks don't consider fish anatomy with hooks, which is why I prefer a slow tapering, sharp as hell hook. The slow taper has the benefit of increased penetration into whatever meaty part is behind the bone, but the down side is that a larger fish hooked in the boney part of the jaw can bend even the strongest hooks due to the pressure distribution.

    For me, I've found that the single upper and lower hooks have been producing more secure hook sets rather than the two smaller upper and lower hooks. But, I mostly fish for bottom species and not larger tuna such as those found off Southern California.

    I think this discussion is going to get some good information out to folks. Thanks for your input Walt
     
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    yessokk

    Luck favors the well prepared.
    Sep 18, 2006
    1,287
    1,967
    Costa Mesa, Cailf
    Name
    Walt
    Boat
    11 ft Sears W/Duel 5.2hp
    Mr. Benny, have used the single top hook for the last 5 years catching mainly Yellow Tail and had excellent success. It's only these larger Blue Fin that are infesting the off shore waters that require more attention. Have a 1 1/2 day Tuna trip coming up on the 24th. Thinking to rig the single top and bottom hook set up. It certainly is a lot cleaner and a lot less fussing around.
    Walt
     
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    MattFred1414

    Member
  • Jan 3, 2020
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    Name
    Matt
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    20ft Skeeter Zx20Bay
    I have a really bad habit of putting my smaller lever drag reels in full drag after a drop. I’ve pulled hooks and lost some big fish because of it. I prefer a star drag reel for SPJ just so I don’t make that mistake.
     
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    Tunahead

    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
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    Ron
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    Fishing Freelance on a paddy off the domes one weekday, hooked nice bull dorado on a Zuker with 5/0 hook. He jumped and I swung tight on him (bad learning point here). He threw the hook and jig at 100mph back thru my cheek.
    Big X hole, came right out. Stuffed paper towels in cheek, duct taped the wound. Told Goble "BACK TO THE PADDY"! Dropped back the bloody Zuker and WHAM Same dorado, only
    did NOT swing on him. He jumped 10 times but I caught the SOB. LESSON LEARNED. Fished all
    day, then 22 stitches at Hoag ER on the way home. LOL OUCH.
     
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    DannyNoonan

    Smarter than I look...
    Apr 17, 2007
    1,117
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    Name
    Jim
    Boat
    Lund LX200 LFC
    My “bad beat” was more of an embarrassment than anything else…

    Couple years ago on a plunker tuna drift I decided to break out my Ocea Jigger on a Major Craft SPJ setup. Hooked a decent tuna - maybe 40# class up towards the bow and fought him all the way up to deep color at the side of the galley. With the short rod and PE 2 braid I got a little worried that the line would rub the hull during the “death circles”, so I was leaning way over the rail and holding the rod as far away from the boat as I could. A momentary lapse of concentration and the rod slipped out of my grip. Before the deckhand could try to retrieve it with a gaff (which wouldn’t have worked anyways), the tuna slowly swam away with $600 worth of jewelry in tow…

    Lessons learned? First and foremost is to pay more attention! Also, gloves help the grip on the reel - remember, with SPJ your non-winding hand is grabbing the side of the reel, not the foregrip of the rod (there pretty much isn’t a foregrip on SPJ stuff)! Oh, and I replaced the rod with a TR Innovate (thanks Benny!), which is a much better solution for the LR boat hull-rubbing concern…
     
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    NickyBaja

    Turns on the prop
    Oct 30, 2013
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    Bay Area, CA/ Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
    Name
    Nick
    Boat
    27 Jupiter
    Few years back I made a dummy move... Down in Baja jigging huachinango (red snapper) and my wife hooks into a decent fish. She's struggling a bit so I set my rod down, leaned against the gunnel, still in gear. You know where this is going...:rofl:I guess the rocking of the boat gave the jig enough action and WHAM! Jig gets smashed, rod goes flying into the water, gone in an instant. Glad it was one of my cheaper setups w/ just a Lexa and an Okuma rod hahahaha!

    Had a couple bad beats jigging tanker WSB back in the day. We were over the reef up in Malibu, jigging for lings and rockfish when I get absolutely SMOKED down deep. Came unbuttoned, I reel up to find the fish had broke a fairly heavy wire hook! Few minutes later my buddy connects to another tanker. He finally get's it to color and we go mental as a 60-70ish lb WSB surfaces. The fish was every bit as tall as my buddy... I go back for another drift, gotta get mine! Slow jigging right near the bottom and I connect. BIG blistering run, I fight him for about 10 minutes before he chaffed off on #60 fluoro. Not my day! But hey, that's fishing...
     
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