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Snagging salmon is a practical method of catching the fish for food. Snagging is best accomplished in river systems, as the salmon gather in large numbers before the spawn. Snagging is not complicated, but the technique does require a methodical approach to maximize success. Snagging is illegal in some areas, and anglers must check the regulations.
The belly hook is a common snagging method that uses a large treble hook and weight. Tie the line to a heavy sinker, and tie a 3-foot leader to the sinker. Tie a large, treble hook to the leader, and place a pinch-on float immediately above the hook. Cast the rig and drag it along the bottom until you feel a change in the line tension. Set the hook by swinging the rod in a sideways, sweeping motion. The weight drags under the fish and the hook runs directly into its body.
The deep swing is an attempt to catch a fish in the mouth. The technique is accomplished with a weight lure or fly; the angler allows the lure to slowly swing through the water. The slow motion allows the lure to reach the bottom, and a salmon may strike it. If a salmon does not strike, the lure is likely to brush against a salmon. The angler sets the hook on the tension change.
Bumping involves a succession of drops and hook sets in an attempt to snag salmon. The process requires a weighted lure, or a rig with the weight placed 1 foot or less from the hook. Cast the rig and allow it to sink to the bottom. Set the hook as soon as it hits bottom, and reel the slack as drops. Repeat the process until you make contact with a fish, or reel in all of the line.
Sighting is a finesse snagging technique that requires good vision and timing. The angler casts a weighted lure and observes as it drops into a school of fish. The lure is slowly retrieved until it is seen against the side of the fish. Immediately before making contact with the fish, the angler sets the hook in a sideways motion that completes the snag. The snag is best accomplished with a treble hook, and with the intention of killing the fish.
Zach Lazzari is a freelance outdoor writer specializing in hunting, fly fishing and the general outdoors. He guided fly fishing trips for 10 years in Colorado, Alaska, Montana and Patagonia-Chile. Zach lives in Montana and splits time between the river and keyboard.