Reeling in strategies for fishing

Anglers dredge up all manner of stuff in a busy season of fishing, and a pretty good percentage of it is odd by just about any measure.

I have snagged and reeled up sticks, cans, shirts, socks, hats, ropes and even rods and reels. Sadly, none of the rods or reels was worth keeping, so I disposed of them in the trash barrels at the docks.

I also have plucked from lake bottoms a number of lures, many in pristine condition. They go into my storage boxes, free gifts from Davy Jones’ locker.

Two Saturdays ago, I tugged on my snagged crankbait. The rear treble had been lassoed by a long length of braided line. When I find braid on a lake bottom, I always try to retrieve as much as I can so it doesn’t endanger wildlife that might get tangled.

I freed my crankbait from the loop of braid and pulled the line up hand-over-hand. With a final tug, I popped loose a jig to which the 20 or more feet of braid had been tied. I balled up the line and the jig and was getting ready to drop it on the deck for later disposal when I noticed something very unusual.

The itself was your generic unpainted lead ballhead jig with a 3-inch pumpkin color twister tail. No doubt its fisher put it on his or her line with the intent to catch a bass or maybe a walleye.

Oddly, however, the line was not tied directly to the jig’s eye. Rather, a large snap and swivel were doing that job. Odder still was the fact that the terminal swivel was connected to the line by another supersized snap and swivel.

That’s a lot of hardware.

A small leadhead jig is fished typically as a finesse bait, presented in a manner that looks subtle and natural. It’s a presentation that for most anglers would best be done via tackle that is delicate and almost invisible.

A finesse presentation is most often executed with light fluorocarbon line tied directly to the jig’s eye.

But the offering lying at my feet looked stout enough to tow the BassCat home.

So I began to wonder. Had the angler who went fishing that day caught anything on the lost jig-and-swivels combo?

My gut said no. I could not fathom a bass or walleye smacking that audacious set-up. A small jig slithering lightly along the bottom and next to cover should look like an unencumbered minnow or crawfish – not a boat anchor on a steel chain.

I considered another scenario. Perhaps this particular angler had never learned that the advantages of quick-change hardware when it comes time to change lures are far outweighed by the necessity of stealth in most fishing situations.

And then a third notion noodled up. It’s entirely possible the snap-and-swivels rig was this angler’s secret of secrets. Could it be the double dose of gaudy hardware actually differentiated this offering to the point where fish bit because it didn’t look like any other lure.

The third idea is unlikely the case. It was more likely the angler was prompted to go with the swivel-snap-swivel-snap-jig thing because he or she didn’t know better.

Anything is possible, I suppose.

But the discovery certainly got my attention and captured my imagination. Not that I’m going to adopt this angler’s tackle strategy, but at least I’m now aware that some of my fishing friends think it will work.

And the more we think, the better we’ll fish.