Snag-Free Fishing

Fight the fish and save your lures.

You did it. That super-duper $12 lure is snagged in your favorite fishing hole. Now what? Your reflex might be to yank the rod to free the bait from bondage. But sometimes, a guide’s trick will free it.

With the right amount of tension on the line, say just enough to hold it taut, and with the rod pointed up to about 45 degrees, pull the line like a banjo string and let it slap back against the rod. Sometimes, when it snaps back, the lure bounces backward from the snag and frees the hooks. More often, a different tactic is required.

“That might only embed the hooks tighter into the snag,” warns Jim Duckworth, a professional guide. “My second career is freeing snagged lures.”


Duckworth prefers using a telescopic lure retriever. There are two types that he claims are highly effective in putting plugs back in action.

On the cheap, you can make a homebrew plug knocker from a 1-ounce bell sinker with a snap on it. Connect it to the line, and let the weight slide down the line until you feel it contact the lure. Gently snap the rod tip so the weight can knock the lure free from the snag.”

Set up a reverse angle by positioning the boat opposite of the direction you snagged it from, so you can back the lure out of the snag,” he says. “In deep water, move over the top and jig the rod vertically to free the bait.”


For tougher jobs, there are retrievers that telescope — sort of like a golfer’s ball retriever. Extend the pole to the desired distance. Grip the handle with one hand while using the free hand to thread, and wrap the line around the corkscrew. Guide the pole down to the lure, and gently push and pull to free it from the snag.

Duckworth adds, “You’ll have more confidence in casting lures into heavy cover, where the fish live, knowing there’s a backup plan in case you set the hook on a snag instead of on a fish.”


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