About the only thing on a lake’s bottom that never gets tired of biting is the bottom itself.
Tugging usually worsens matters by driving hooks deeper or wedging an entire lure tighter into whatever grips it. “Snapping” the snag—pulling a taught line to the side and releasing it to snap a loosening tremor down to the point of ensnarement may work for moderate snags. But when your bait runs headlong into serious captivity, it’s time to send in the repo man, the lure knocker.
In simplest terms, this tool comprises a weighted form that attaches to your line and slides down to “knock” the snagged lure free. As most snags occur while lures are moving for- ward, lure knockers strike their target front-to-back with a motion intended to push the bait away from its entrapment.
Commercially marketed lure knockers vary in size, weight and design based on the depth and cover for which they’re intended. Examples range from the rocket shaped Strikezone Lure Co.’s Pocket Knocker Lure Retriever to the EZ Lure Retriever comprising a heavy lead weight, shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, with an open metal frame extending from its back, a retrieval cord attached to its tail and chains dangling from the head.
When a snag occurs, slip the metal frame over your line, hold the retrieval cord in one hand with the fishing line in the other and let the lure knocker slide down to the snag. If the initial impact doesn’t do the trick, raise and drop the knocker in short, sharp bumps until you feel the fishing line come free. For particularly stubborn snags those dangling chains can be manipulated to grab hooks and pull the bait loose.
For smaller baits like jigs and shaky heads, use a homemade knocker comprising a 2-ounce in-line sinker with a snap attached to the line tie. The snap clips to the line and slides down to dislodge the bait. Such improvised knockers can also work with treble hook plugs—just upsize the weight accordingly.
A few considerations:
Anglers often try idling around a snag to free their bait from different angles. If this fails and you have to use a lure knocker, make sure to return to the same angle as the initial snag. This is a simple task if you’re dealing with a log or laydown in shallow water. When you can’t see the bottom, note your compass heading or use a shoreline object for line-of-sight reference. When deploying a lure knocker, keep a good grip on that cord or your snagged lure will gain permanent company. Secure the retrieval cord to a plastic bottle or marker float for those “oops” moments. The EZ Lure Retriever offers an optional retrieval reel for handheld or deck-mounted operation.
Overburdening light monofilament with a chunky lure knocker could end up snapping the line, so gauge the weight prudently. (Some, like the Pocket Knocker, state their suggested minimum line size on the packaging.)
Remember, of course, that snags are a good indicator of fishable structure. Once you free your bait, survey the area with your bottom machine, mark your way points and then target them with jigs, dropshots or Texas-rigged baits. Same goes for logs, laydowns, or fallen docks that unexpectedly grab your bait. Free the snag and then work your newly discovered spot with jigs, dropshots, shaky heads and Texas-rigged plastics. FS
First published Florida Sportsman October 2017