7 Wildly Unconventional Secrets Guaranteed to Help You Catch More Fish

These outside-the-box, cutting-edge tips from seven of fishing’s top pros will blow your mind.

1 — Spinning in a Superior Position

Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
R.T. Trosset shows an angler the advantages of fishing with his spinning reel upside down.R.T. Trosset

“Maybe this falls under the heading of ‘If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em,’” says renowned Key West skipper R.T. Trosset. “I spent years telling novices that a spinning reel should be fished with the reel below, not above, the rod. Then, a while back, just goofing around, I decided to try fishing a spinner the wrong way, and guess what? It works great. Suddenly, as a righty, I’m reeling with the optimal hand, just as with a conventional reel!”

Trosset says he feels this technique gives him more control as well. “Now, instead of correcting my anglers, I actually encourage them to hold the rod so the spinning reel’s on top. Of course, some guys who think they’re real experts are too proud to change, and that’s OK,” he says.

“Looking back now, I guess all those upside-down spinners weren’t such googans after all.”

Capt. R.T. Trosset has been a charter captain in Key West for four decades, and received the IGFA Lifetime Achievement Award, having guided anglers to 217 world records. Visit SPINDRIFT FISHING or call 305-797-5693.

2 — When the Bite Starts Lagging, Try Snagging

Saltwater angler holding a snagged dolphinfish caught fishing on rod and reel
Renowned Miami Captain Ray Rosher shows anglers how to catch dolphin when the fish develop lockjaw.Capt. Ray Rosher
A snagged mahimahi caught fishing on rod and reel
Rosher stocks standard weighted trebles for dolphin, cobia and other species that can confound sight-casting anglers.Capt. Ray Rosher

“Not much frustrates anglers more than seeing fish that won’t bite,” says famed Miami charter captain Ray Rosher. “I got so tired of driving away from schools of dolphin [mahi] with lockjaw and seeing the disappointment on my clients’ faces that I decided to do something about it.”

What Rosher did about it was keep a couple of rods ready with snag-hook rigs. Now, when dolphin are swarming around the boat but not eating, he has anglers whip the big trebles through the school and watches as they delightedly drive the points home into fish.

“Not sporting?” Rosher scoffs. “Let’s be real: Dolphin stocks aren’t in any trouble. And of course, we adhere strictly to federal catch limits.”

In fact, he says, snagging is a lot of fun, and he wishes he’d started doing it a long time ago. “When any species you can see won’t bite, I say bring out the snag rigs!”

Ray Rosher fishes out of Monty’s Marina in south Miami on his 26-, 34- and 43-foot Miss Britt charter boats. Visit MISS BRITT CHARTERS; 305-788-3474.

3 — Spare the Rod and Spoil the Angler

Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
Some anglers are initially reluctant to give up a fish they've hooked, such as this young lady from whom Capt. Brad Phillipps' mate is wresting the rod, until they realize how proficient the crew are at landing (versus losing) sailfish and marlin.Capt. Brad Phillipps

What’s the best way to make sure most anglers catch their fish? Catch those fish for them, says one of the world’s most successful billfish captains, Brad Philipps, who’s based in Guatemala.

“Let’s face it: Most anglers really aren’t very skilled, and definitely nowhere near as good as they think they are,” Philipps explains. “They end up unhappy when they have shots at a couple of dozen sails, then manage to release just two.”

But if Philipps or his mate takes the rod and gets the fish to the boat, they can turn those 24 shots into 20 releases. “Now those are the sort of numbers anglers like!” he enthuses.

“So in most cases anymore, we jump down to catch the fish for them, and once we’ve got the fish just about to the boat, [we] hand the rod to [the] angler, and bingo: He or she is releasing another sailfish.

“A few cranky old buggers bitch and moan,” Philipps says, “but most of them are happy to have another beer while we do the hard work for them. Then, back at the dock, the numbers are good, and everyone goes to dinner drunk and happy.”

Capt. Brad Philipps has captained more than 30,000 billfish releases. Based in Guatemala, he has fished all over the world, with many thousand-pounders and countless awards to his name. visit GUATEMALA BILLFISHING ADVENTURES.

4 — Dull is the New Sharp

Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
Capt. Andy Mezirow takes time in his shop to thoroughly grind down every factory-sharpened hook tip until it's rounded and smooth.Capt. Andy Mezirow
Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
To better explain the concept of Andy Mezirow's altered hook point, this illustration shows an ultra-closeup of a sharp point versus that same point after it's been filed down to an optimal dullness.Kevin Hand

Not being the sharpest hook in the box is a good thing, says one of Alaska’s best-known captains, Andy Mezirow, of Seward. He says that through trial and error over the years, he’s learned that very dull fishing hooks catch more fish. Why? “The best reason I can figure,” Mezirow theorizes, “is that fish hang on to a bait or lure longer when they don’t feel the sting of a sharp hook point.”

Of course, dull hooks require a much more powerful hook-set to drive them into a fish’s mouth past the barb, so accordingly, Mezirow amps up the tackle. For example, he equips anglers fishing for coho salmon with 80-pound braid on stiff rods. “I tell them to jerk back with all their might, and that usually works.”

Mezirow says he routinely “dulls the heck” out of new hooks. He suggests snipping off the points and then filing them until they’re rounded. “It takes a bit of time,” he acknowledges, “but it’ll pay off in more fish at the end of the day.”

Capt. Andy Mezirow has owned and operated Crackerjack Charters in Seward for more than 20 years. The lifelong mariner has fished around much of the world, both recreationally and commercially. These days he spends his spare time fishing the waters off Kona, Hawaii. Visit CRACKERJACK CHARTERS.

5 — Born-Again Believer in Bananas

Big-game saltwater fishing captain and mate eating bananas on a boat
A banana a day brings good luck your way, says top Miami skipper Jimbo Thomas, who never leaves the dock without plenty of yellow fruit on board.Capt. Jimbo Thomas

For years, one of Miami’s most lauded charter captains, Jimbo Thomas, accepted the common wisdom that bananas bring bad luck. “Oh yeah,” he acknowledges. “I was one of those guys who practically frisked clients at the dock for bananas or any visual representation of them.”

But now Thomas has done a 180: He has become so convinced that bananas bring good luck, he actually makes sure he has a big bunch on the boat every morning for anglers to eat, enjoy and thank for their success.

“Believe it or not,” Thomas says, “in the past six months since I’ve become a BIB [a believer in bananas, he explains], I’ve seen catch rates on average nearly double what we had been doing.” Thomas has always been known for producing fish, so he points out that with bananas, good has gone to consistently great.

The skipper cites a couple of days early in that six-month period when he forgot to bring bananas. “Man, we sucked wind,” he complains. “We couldn’t buy a fish. I swore after that I’d never again take a charter out without BOB [bananas on board].”

Jimbo Thomas, a Miami native who grew up fishing these waters, has owned and operated the 42 sport-fisher Thomas Flyer with his brother Rick out of downtown Miami's Pier 5 for more than 35 years. Long successful in the South Florida tournament circuit, Thomas and Thomas Flyer have been featured in many national magazines. Visit THOMAS FLYER FISHING.

6 — A Granny Knot is All You Need

Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
Knot expert Adrian Gray practicing what he preaches, landing a Costa Rican snapper on a jig attached with a simple, single overhand knot.Adrian E. Gray

Thousands of anglers visiting the International Game Fish Association website have watched Adrian Gray's video showing how he ties the rather intricate and widely lauded FG knot. "Yeah, I can tie it pretty fast," Gray acknowledges, though even he takes a couple of minutes. "But do I use it, myself? Nope."

So what knot does the IGFA’s talented production coordinator use? You won’t believe it.

“A granny knot. You know — a simple overhand knot.”

How to tie a granny knot
With some practice, you should be able to replicate these steps to successfully tie your first granny knot.Kevin Hand

Gray says it is, bar none, the fastest knot anyone can possibly tie, and so easy he can do it literally in the dark. Yet it’s deceptively strong.

“Ask 100 guys who fish, and they’ll tell you an overhand knot sucks. Then ask the same guys how many have ever tried fishing with one, and not one hand will go up. That’s the point,” Gray says. “Everyone just assumes, and you know what happens there.”

Gray says he's been using the granny knot for years with great results. He admits he's never tested it on the IGFA's Instron line tester. "Why bother? I've assessed it hundreds of times in real-life testing. While my buddy's still tying his Bimini [twist], I'm fighting the first fish of the day!"

Adrian Gray began fishing in South Africa, where he was born. He's now the production designer for the International Game Fish Association, where he's responsible for publication design, photography, digital media, art and illustration, and editorial content. He contributes photos to a number of popular magazines, including Sport Fishing.

7 — Bang the Deck Loudly

Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
That respected guide Rick Murphy would release a trophy bonefish this large isn't surprising. The surprise is realizing the fish was hooked only a minute or so after a pair of pliers fell to the deck with loud bang.Pat Ford

There’s no quicker way to send spooky bonefish, permit or redfish packing in shallow water than by making noise. Any flats angler knows that. But what no one seems to realize is that although the fish dart away, they usually come back soon enough. That’s why Capt. Rick Murphy — host of Sportsman’s Adventures and co-host of the Chevy Florida Insider Fishing Report — doesn’t get upset when his anglers bang hatches or cooler lids, or drop stuff on the deck.

“I’ve learned that if you just wait a bit, those fish return probably 75 percent of the time,” he says. “In fact, I think they do so specifically out of curiosity, to see the source of some unusual noise.”

Why hasn’t anyone else figured this out? Murphy says, “Think about it. Once any guide or angler sees his quarry bolt away after being startled, he swears and then leaves, figuring there’s no point in sticking around.”

Murphy wishes he’d ended his efforts to keep anglers in stealth mode years ago.

Capt. Rick Murphy has fished and hunted South Florida his entire life, and has worked as a fishing guide, television host and pro-tournament angler, leading clients to world-class catches and prestigious tournaments. Visit SPORTSMANS ADVENTURES.

8 — Fishing in Your Birthday Suit

Wildly unconventional fishing secrets
A fighting belt and plenty of sunscreen are all that famed marine artist Guy Harvey needs to enjoy a day offshore fishing for marlin.Guy Harvey

"That's right! I'm absolutely not joking," insists renowned marine artist and big-game angler Guy Harvey. But rather than try to explain in words what compels him to fish naked, Harvey has shared with Sport Fishing enthusiasts a series of "selfie paintings" in acrylic that no one outside his immediate family and close friends has ever seen. These paintings, according to Harvey, say it all. To see these exclusive Guy Harvey paintings, click here.

By clicking on the above link, you warrant that you are at least 18 years of age, cross your heart.