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July 12, 2005

10 Ways To Lose A Trophy Fish

You, too, can lose that big fish! Just follow this experts list of 10 Deadly Sins.

7. Using Your Own Rigs/Tackle When that's Not up to the Job
"In 1996, a couple of guys I'd known for years joined my Kwazar Fishing Team. Their reputation as serious anglers was solid, so on our first [king mackerel] tournament outing - the Pensacola Bud Light King Mackerel Tournament, biggest in the Gulf at the time - I provided the boat, tackle and game plan, and they supplied the 200 or so rigs necessary. We blasted out across 90 miles of open gulf to my special big-king hot spot. Bill and Lou [names changed] tied on their expertly made hardtail and ribbonfish rigs. Instantly they had a double hookup of smokers. Within minutes, both had lost their fish. 'Bit through the wire just above the nose hooks!' declared Bill. Shortly after that, Lou had another 50-plus smoker just out of gaff range when it, too, bit through the leader. I took the next one myself and lost it, too. I inspected their bag of unused rigs and discovered that their 'haywire twists' were more like hangman's nooses!  

"When I cinched a few down, they broke with as little as 8 pounds of pressure. Then, while I'm sitting out there retying with solid haywires that will hold, a buddy pulls up nearby, and his first line out yields a 54-pound king. That must have been the only big king left without a sore jaw because they went in and - with a fish no larger than the four we'd just lost on bad rigs - won the tournament and 'our' new boat!"
- Capt. Marcus Kennedy
Mobile, Alabama

Since that day, Kennedy says, he never assumes anyone new on his boat is "certified" at making any rigs he hasn't seen them make or taught them to make. There are too many opportunities for something to go wrong: bad knots, old or frayed line, the wrong size or type of leader, cheap hooks and more.
 Similarly, Mezirow says he likes to check drags and inspect line and knots before heading out - his own and those on any tackle anglers bring out.