Knot Now! Tangled Fishing Lines & Fishing Conservation

By Andy Whitcomb

Aug 31, 2015

Fishing line is a critical component of fishing.

Fishing line is a critical component of fishing. It allows us to cast bait or lures and then reel it back in, hopefully with a fish attached. That is, if all goes well. Sometimes tangles occur. Even tournament pros have casts that go awry and create massive “bird’s nests.”

Here are a few steps for handling tangled fishing line:

  1. If using a spinning reel, close the bail so no more line joins the ruckus.


  2. Take a deep breath and begin teasing out the smaller loops. Try to keep everything loose and open. If the knot begins to shrink, stop pulling there and try somewhere else; you don’t want it to get tight.

  3. If, I mean, “when” you get the first loop out, reel it up to get that reclaimed line secured and out of the way.

  4. A tight, braided line knot may loosen if you pinch it and roll it around between your fingers.


  5. If it is truly an unruly beast of a snarl, wrap it loosely to prevent it from overtaking the boat then set it aside and use another rod. Don’t let it cut into valuable time on the water. Tackle this at your leisure, perhaps on the back porch after a frosty beverage.

  6. Under these less stressful conditions, remove the hook or lure and tie the end to a fixed object like a fence or some lawn furniture.

  7. Take another deep breath and see Step 2.


  8. Be sure to work on this yourself; don’t drag others down with you. Think of it as a fun puzzle. You’ve got this!

  9. Finally, once the tangled mess is out, cast a practice plug gently down the driveway and reel in slowly between fingers. Make sure there are no more hidden knots, kinks, or rough areas.

A little preventative maintenance can help prevent tangles. Be aware of everything behind and above you. Constantly watch for tiny single loops that may grow into monsters if left unattended. This is especially the case with newly spooled or cold monofilament, or when changing lures frequently with a baitcaster.


If the knot does win, keep that line and turn it into a recycling center. These can be found at popular boat ramps and docks or in many retail fishing and boating stores while you are buying your fishing license. And if you ever find line carelessly discarded on the shore, stuff it into one of your cargo pockets and recycle that too. Every bit helps with the conservation of our water resources.

Do you have a picture of a fishing knot? We’d love to see it! : -)

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.