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January 14, 2005

A Sweet Feed: Effective Dropbacks

An effective dropback begins as soon as a billfish enters the spread. Anglers should have reels in free-spool and rod tips held high.

An effective dropback begins as soon as a billfish enters the spread. Anglers should have reels in free-spool and rod tips held high. Drop the rod tip toward the fish as soon as it takes a bait. Top-notch billfishermen often drop the rod tip an instant before the fish feeds, so there's no tension at all on the bait as the fish picks it up. Line should flow off the rod tip and loop down to the water. No tight lines at this point!

Mistakes to avoid include:

SNOOZING: A heads-up attitude helps anglers act quickly when fish appear. Getting to the rod  before a fish grabs the bait puts you one step ahead in the game.

INCORRECT ROD POSITION: Hold the rod tip high to keep the bait on the surface prior to a bite. Drop the rod immediately when the fish strikes, and point the rod at the fish while dropping back. Holding the rod tip high during the dropback generates extra tension on the line and may cause the fish to drop the bait.

TOO MUCH THUMB: Excessive pressure on the spool keeps line from flowing freely.A billfish will feel this unnatural tension and drop the bait.

NOT ENOUGH THUMB: Insufficient pressure on the spool results in a backlash.

TOO MUCH TIME: Long dropbacks can give a fish time to sense that something's wrong, causing it to drop the bait. Worse, long dropbacks often result in gut-hooked fish.