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Making sure your knot’s not a problem

April 26, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

After poling the boat seemingly forever searching for redfish tails wagging enticingly in the early morning sun, it looked like it wasn't going to happen. Suddenly, they appeared.

After poling like mad to get in range, you make the cast, being careful not to rock the boat, placing the lure perfectly, far enough away to not spook the fish and then begin your retrieve. The lure goes by as the fish senses it, looks up, likes it and then gives chase.

The shallow water swells torpedo-like behind your lure. Here comes the hit! Then - nothing, as the new Florida state record tarpon/redfish/snook/gator trout got cold fins and took off at the last moment after suddenly seeing weeds trailing off its next meal.

Even a pint-sized pinfish knows better than to bite that, and if one could talk, they'd tell you to change your knot that's catching all those weeds! Waited all week to fish in your new $75 grand flats machine, defeated by a knot? Shame!

Manufacturers put split rings on lures to allow the lure freedom of movement, enabling the lure to perform as the designer intended. Removing the ring (or on a lure not equipped with one like a lead-head jig) and tying a knot fast or tight to the lure's split ring attachment wire will dampen or kill the lure's action and why a loop knot is usually the better alternative. Choosing the right one is the issue.

Already graduated to loop knots but still catching weeds? You're using the wrong one. There are several loop knots easily learned, but with many leaving the tag end (the trimmed away part of the line after tying the knot) facing forward away from the lure or leaving a short rigid tag end stub sticking out to one side is certainly not good for shallow, weedy work.

One remedy is the Canoe Man loop knot which is an easy, super-fast knot to tie, easy to adjust, doesn't require much leader material and is quite strong. Tied properly it leaves the tag end pointed straight back at the lure shedding weeds. From personal experience, the knot works well with mono up to 60 lb. test.

It's hard to describe knots without pictures so visit YouTube for easy instructions on tying this very useful knot and always lubricate the line when tying and seating any knot.

If you love nighttime tarpon fishing like I do, being prepared for the unexpected (as much as possible) should be a priority for the safety of the crew as well as the tarpon.

When casting lures from my skiff, I ask clients to always wear a vest and give them the option to wear clear safety glasses I always provide. Have a throw cushion available which means not stowed away.

This past week the fast running tide caused the boat to just slightly bump a piling, instantly throwing the angler on the front deck off balance causing him to fly off the boat and into the inky darkness. Stuff happens to us all and if he had hit his head without a vest, not a swimmer or panicked, he may have been lost.

Have a boarding ladder that works. With no boarding ladder, trying to get back in a boat that you've fallen out of is difficult, even if you're in tip-top shape and a no-go for the injured or an older salt.

Have the proper release tools on board with plenty of light options and gloves to make tarpon release's easier.

Under the 41 bridges this past week my client wanted a release picture of his 100-pound class night tarpon. We exchanged jaw grips as I readied the camera while the boat moved slowly forward.

A huge boat side explosion and a loud yell told me a shark had attacked. At night, be extra cautious when reviving your tarpon as sharks are always close by.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or



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