Inshore insights: Top 3 tips to help you boat a big fish

Pointers to avoid another ‘one that got away’ story

Think about it: the speckled trout of a lifetime might strike at any moment.

So could a delicious doormat of a flounder — or any other fish that’s on your personal bucket list.

But will you be ready when that time comes?

There’s a lot you’ll need to do, and these three simple tips are a great way to start.

1. Set your drag properly

The right drag setting will keep pressure on the fish, but play out line when needed.

Otherwise, a drag that’s too tight can strain tackle past its limits, resulting in popped knots or broken rods.

But how do you know exactly where to set your drag?

One method is to tie your line to a fixed point, like a ball hitch.

Drag should only play out line when the rod is jerked upward, not when a light bow is put into it.

I prefer to tighten my drag until I can pull it off the spool by hand, using only a little force.

After that I adjust the drag according to the fish — lighter for trout and heavier for redfish.

2. Follow the fish around the boat

Remember that time you took your friend fishing?

He hooked into a gargantuan bull red that immediately peeled line off the spool.

But when the fish made a run toward the back of the boat, your friend stayed up front.

You watched in horror as the line wrapped around the prop, just before it popped and the monster got away.

I think we’ve all had this experience, so now we know to follow the fish as it circles the boat.

There is no chance for the boat to break your line as long as you match the position of the fish.

3. Retie your knots frequently

For me, frequent retying is classified as “busy work” that doesn’t put fish in the boat.

But, I feel it’s important to retie at least before each trip.

That’s because knots from your previous outing may have weakened from exposure to the elements, including possible rust inside the hook’s eye.

I think it’s pretty obvious a huge fish is more likely to break an ancient knot that’s been collecting dust, rather than a freshly tied new one.

After that, I feel you should retie as often as makes you comfortable.


Fish enough, and you will inevitably come across a specimen worthy of every angler’s praise.

When you do, these tips could mean the difference between mounting a wall-hanger — or just having another story of “one that got away.”

Tight lines, y’all!

Editor’s Note: Devin Denman is an avid inshore fisherman who writes the Louisiana Fishing Blog. To read more of his articles, visit

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