Types Of Bites & How To Detect Them
Updated: Oct 29
One of the first questions every new angler asks once they cast their line is “how will I know when I have one?”. Although it is normally true and nice to say “you’ll know when one bites” this is not always the case and new anglers will miss fish simply because they didn’t know they got bit! Bites from fish will vary by species as well as the technique being used however there is one common feeling between them all; your bait feels different than it did while just reeling it in!
There are a number of other factors that could be causing your bait to feel different during the retrieve including current, getting stuck in weeds, bumping into rocks or logs, or the lure becoming tangled in the line but it will take experience to learn the difference in how these feel. A saying all new anglers should take to heart, originally coined by Dave Mercer or Facts of Fishing, is hooksets are free; use them! When in doubt it is better to set the hook when there isn’t a fish on the other end than it is to not set the hook when there is. There is no downside to setting the hook when there is no fish around. Even if the bait has been hitting rocks or snagging in weeds the quick jump or change in direction from setting the hook will rip it free and sometimes cause a reaction strike from fish that are following.
When using moving baits or ones that produce vibration a sudden difficulty to reel, resistance on the rod, a sharp tug, or feeling like the bait has stopped vibrating are all good indicators that a fish has bit your lure. Aggressive fish they will strike baits much harder and so it will be easier for beginner anglers to tell but fish are not always aggressive. Bites from fish while using finesse or slow moving tactics are much less obvious and often there will not be an good indicators other than the weight of the lure feeling like it has increased or like it fell off! If the lure feels like it has fallen off, you can’t feel any resistance, it means the fish has picked it up and is swimming towards you. The best course of action is to reel in quickly to tighten the line and then set the hook. Alternatively, if the lure weight feels like it has increased a fish has likely grabbed it and is sitting still or slowly moving away with it.
Fish in colder water (Early spring, Late Fall, Winter) will typically be less aggressive and as such their bites will be harder to detect. Often they will grab a bait and not move at all with it so anglers need to pay attention to what their bait is doing and take notice to put more fish in the boat!
For video example showing all these types of bites see link below:
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