You should have your drag set to how you are going to fight the fish. You won't see fish much bigger than 3 pounds during the summer months, but if you hook up with a really nice one or even a fat albert, adjust during the fight. The only time I set my drag tighter than it should be is when casting heavy weights on a spinner or when I have a fish under control and coming over the rail. Under control is a key here. I have seen and have lost fish at the pier that weren't ready and took a strong run.
I set my drag before I fish and leave it that way during the fight. If the fish takes a lot of line out, this changes your drag setting to a stronger one. In this situation, loosen the drag when the fish makes a long, hard run to minimize the chance of a breakoff.
Seems whenever I use GoCha's, the fish always hook themselves. I use the cast and jerk retrieve method.
Thanks for the info on gotchas. I have a three piece 7' rod that I am concerned with. This info is just what I needed to hear. I didn't want to not have any drag at all set cause blues are capable of breaking 2 piece rods in half. Sure wouldn't want my 3 piece setup to become a 4 piece. When I have caught them in the past I do recall that they hit with a definite bang. I never had any problems with my one piece using natural baits, but I want to be extra careful with this one. So, some drag but not too much initially. Then make adjustments accordingly.
I hadn't thought about them hooking themselves on lures. I will be replacing or breaking off one of the treble hooks. Easier for me to get a blue off. And I will try the jerk and retrieve method with the gotcha.
If ya cut off one hook on each treble and smash the barbs you will have effortless hook release...unless Mr. Blue gets lock jaw and won't give up the lure. A little squeeze in the gill plate area helps this.
For blues, I'll feel more secure using grippers to hold them by their bottom lip. Squeezing the gills........... well, maybe after a lot of practice removing gotchas. I haven't caught a spanish ever. Will use that technique with them too.
The most important thing to have on hand when unhooking Blues or any other TOOTHY fish is a pair of needle-nose pliars or similar. Hold the fish below the head-no problem, just stay away from the teeth with your digits.
When the blues are thick in the water and I'm using two-treble hook lures, I usually remove the front treble and replace the rear one with a single hook. This makes removing the hook real easy. If you can replace the large single hook with a bucktail, the better!
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