Three Shots for Snakehead

Three Shots for Snakehead

Paul Arden | Monday, 15 February 2016

These are the three shots you need for Snakehead along with practise drills, that you need to get very good at if you are to consistently hook fish. I can't stress the importance enough of being able to take the shot quickly, with speed, to deliver the fly accurately one foot in front of the fish and to be able to make the first shot count. A video of these shots with explanations will follow.

Tackle considerations first. You need a fast 8WT rod, preferably a 10WT. Leader length is approx 9ft. I use 4.5 of 70lb, 4.5ft or 40lb (Slim Beauty/Bimini Twist connection), 6 inches of 30lb Tyger Wire (Slim Beauty to 40lb, Lefty Loop Knot to Popper). For lines I prefer longer belly lines particularly for the third shot. In 8WT I'm using an RIO Bonefish line which has a 50ft head. For the 10WT the Technical Tarpon Taper with a 60ft head. In the tropics you need to use plenty of silicone spray or SHOOT to lubricate the line particularly for second shot.

For line management my preferred choice is to start with 2 metres of flyline outside the tip, preferably laying it in the direction of the target with the leader fully extended without slack line. However there are times when you don't want it be in this position any will need to make a change of direction cast.

The first shot is for fish that rise 8 metres or closer to the boat, which can happen. Often, but not always, they spook of course but it's a shot that occurs and you need to get good at it. It's a Pick Up and Lay Down (PUALD) shot. With the 2m of flyline, the leader, the rod and your arm you can comfortably reach 8m without shooting line. Now if the fish rises closer you need to make a Reach Cast, this allows you land the fly with a straight line between the tip and the fly. Making some sort of slack line presentation makes no sense of course, because you need to pop the fly immediately. This short Reach Cast also allows you to present the line so that the fly can be moved in a direction that is not directly towards the boat. You need to get good at this.

To practise this shot use a Popper with the hook removed or bent back into the shank and cast at targets.

The second shot is your most useful shot and might give you a casting range of 50ft - I will measure my maximum distance this week. The cast is an Extended PUALD shot. You need to get very good and highly accurate with this cast. Start with the rod tip touching the water surface and immediately slip 2m of flyline during the Lift, catch it briefly with your line hand, make a fairly open backcast immediately shooting line into the backcast making an O with your line hand's thumb and first finger, catch the line again, and make a shooting forward delivery with a completely vertical rod plane and late wrist rotation. Do not randomly shoot the line on the forward delivery but again make the line hand O, and make a check haul to ensure both accuracy and a straight turn-over.

The backcast must be directly away from the target and it helps me to draw a line straight back from the forward target when I make this shot. You need to practise this one at targets and preferably over water. This is your number one cast and you need to get VERY good at it. If you can't make the PUALD shot at the required distance, accurately and first time, and either require one false cast or you need to close the distance then you are not really in the Snakehead game. False casting, even just one false cast, will see you catching less than 1/10th of the fish and very often nothing at all. Closing the distance to the fish results in more spooked fish and less distance to entice the take if the fish decides to follow. So really master this cast, it is the essential Snakehead Shot.

The third Snakehead shot is a long distance baby shot. Snakehead as you'll know by now rear their young, and when the babies surface for air, generally every fourth or fifth rise can see one, or both adults surfacing. If this happens at longer distances than the quick shot allows, it's possible to false cast anticipating the rise of the fish. You don't want to be doing this for a close shot because it simply spooks the fish, but at distance you can carry the line and make a minor adjustment to place the fly in front of the fish. Both my biggest landed Snakehead of this trip have come from such a shot, but it's still a minor tactic IMO, but a very useful one when it presents itself!

Yesterday was Valentines Day, and what better way to celebrate than by taking your girlfriend fishing?

Cheers, Paul