Light Tackle Tactics for Big Fish

Today everybody uses light tackle for snook. Yet there are still many misconceptions about snook gear.

The most important piece of equipment for catching big snook on light tackle is the rod. Scott uses long stiff rods for several reasons.

First of all the whitebait that is so important to a successful snook trip between March and October can be easily thrown off when casting. Also catching snook over the clear shallow grass flats means keeping the boat as far from the fish as possible. Tuna towers spook flats snook. Boat hulls spook flats snook. Anglers wearing the wrong color of shirt or hat really spook snook.

Yet if you fish a tower boat, or have customers who show up at the dock wearing a pink shirt, there aren't a lot of things you can do about those problems, except stay as far from the fish as possible.

That's where the long, stiff rods come in handy. Such poles will cast a bait or lure a country mile with little effort. And that means throwing off fewer baits. Scott has experimented with several rods, and many will work. But his personal favorites are made by Daiwa, Penn and C. Loomis.

The long stiff rod is also a valuable tool when fighting the fish. Snook are famous for their fighting abilities. Hooked snook make strong runs. Their aerial displays would embarrass a sailfish. They use every part of their marine home to help dislodge a hook. And they usually succeed.

Snook have tough mouths compared with a trout, flounder or members of the mackerel family. Yet a snook's mouth isn't anywhere near as tough as the mouth of a permit, redfish or tarpon. The cartilage in a snook's mouth tears easily. Snook are lost to pulled hooks more than just about any other fish.

Consequently, Scott likes his anglers to take it easy on hooked snook and wear them out away from the boat. If you bring a green snook close to the boat the sudden burst of power that it puts on when it spots the vessel will often result in the hook pulling free.

The long rod also helps in fighting the snook gently. By keeping the rod between the ten and two o clock positions the angler can put steady, easy pressure on the fish without a lot of effort. Shorter rods mean more work for the angler and, therefore, the greater chance for a mistake.

The long rod also helps when the fish jump. Due to the ease that a snook's mouth tears Scott has developed a system for fighting these gamefish that parts company with techniques used for fighting most fish.

Tarpon, marlin and other aerial speedster present specific problems for the angler. When these gamefish jump their speed doubles as they soar out of water. Without the burden of water friction to slow it down a leaping tarpon's speed dramatically increases. And that can result in the line breaking, the hook being thrown, or the fish landing on a tight line - which also results in a lost fish.

To combat this problem veteran tarpon anglers bow and point the rod straight at the jumping silver king. But Scott says that's the wrong thing to do with snook.

"First of all, a lot of snook are hooked in very shallow water on light line. And that means you often can not tell the fish is going to jump until it's too late," Moore explains.

"But, even if you know he's going to jump, pointing the rod at the fish creates slack line. And if the fish is hooked in certain parts of the mouth the hook will most likely have begun to tear in the softer cartilage. If you give him slack line he will easily throw the hook.

Instead Moore insists that the proper way to address jump ing linesiders is to pull back gently on the rod when the fish takes to the air. This technique helps keep slack out the line and frustrates the snook's efforts to throw the hook. It's a very good technique for fly fishermen to master because the belly in the fly line also helps take up slack as the rod is pulled back.