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“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you”. This quote by John DePaola couldn’t sum up better what I’ve been stressing to my guide clients and preaching at seminars for years about catching stripers. I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you want to consistently catch striped bass using artificials from shore, you will need to focus on retrieval speed.

Think about what you’re looking to accomplish by fishing an artificial lure. You are trying to convince a living, hunting species that the plastic or wood you are throwing is a meal. You have to make it look as authentic as possible when retrieving the lure. The biggest mistake I see when guiding novice clients is their tendency to retrieve their lures at 100 mph. I know this is an exaggeration, but the reality is, when you reel too fast you are not allowing the lure to do what it was designed to do- swim through the water column looking authentic. When you slow your retrieve, it allows the lure to “dig in” and swim through the water column at a slower rate,

working that part of the water column it was designed to work. This is especially true when it comes to working some of my favorite lures- bottle plugs and darters. Reel too fast and they just won’t dig into the water or swim correctly and initiate strikes. Yes, there will be some times when, despite working your lure improperly, you get a strike. However, the point is, good anglers are not looking for random strikes. The good angler is always looking for consistent bites and hook ups, and consistency comes from doing the right things all the time.

So what else makes retrieval speed so important? For me there is two other reasons to make sure your retrieval speed is slow when targeting large striped bass. First, we all know that striped bass- especially the larger ones- are opportunistic feeders that want to ambush their meal while exerting the least amount energy. Because of this, you want to make sure you stay in

the strike zone as long as possible. This can be aided by changing the weights of bucktails, understanding the impact of tidal and current movements etc. Regardless of these factors, the slower the retrieve the longer you are going to stay in the zone where the fish are staging. From the time I was young, my dad always said, especially when I was using a bucktail, that in order to stay down in the strike zone I needed to reel slow, and “once you’re reeling slow, slow down”. This statement has always stuck with me and I utilize daily in my approach, no matter what lures I am using.

The last reason, and I can’t stress enough when it comes to retrieval speed, is maintaining consistency throughout your cast. You want to try to keep the same speed while retrieving your lure during each particular cast. Take multiple casts at whatever speed you are retrieving the lure. If you are not initiating strikes you may want to tweak the speed a little bit, but again, whatever speed you start with during that cast, whatever movements you do with your rod (twitches, lifts etc.) stay consistent during that retrieve. This brings us back to making the lure look “authentic”.

In closing, I can’t say enough about the importance of lure retrieval. Slowing down the lure is going to speed up your consistency- not only catching fish but getting those bigger fish. Getting the fish interested, isn’t that the consistency we all want? Lastly, if you really want to understand why I emphasize a slow retrieve, next time you head to the beach, bay or inlet, take a good look at the bait fish in the water. They don’t really swim fast unless they are spooked. So why wouldn’t you want to imitate their normal actions? #LiveThePassion! #Tightlines! #SlowDown! features a monthly surfcasting blog from Bernie Hoyt , a NYS Certified Fishing

Guide with over 30 years of experience fishing the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast. Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a pro-team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing, as well as a member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association. You can contact Bernie on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services, on Instagram @Bernie_bass, and through his website at

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