Many are surprised by the sensitivity that fish have towards the seemingly smallest details. The reality is that fish are highly in tune with their environment and anything that seems out of the ordinary will have an adverse effect on their interest in your presentation. Not only that, but a haphazard approach that doesn’t take into consideration the conditions of the day can cause you to miss out on hook-up opportunities. Such often overlooked, but very important, details include, but are not limited to, lure color, size, and the subject of today’s article: retrieval speed, or more specifically, a slow retrieval speed.
When is a slow retrieval speed the right tactic to use? Well, there are a few different scenarios where slowing down is a good idea. When the water is stained, or visibility is just poor, a slower approach is a good way to go. Just because fish live in the water, it doesn’t mean they can see everything at all times. Sometimes, we need to slow down and give them a chance to utilize their other senses in order to zero in on the lure.
Cooler temperatures also require a slow approach, as fish will be more lethargic when the water is cold. Slowly working a spinnerbait along the bottom, or a crankbait in and around structure, will produce results during such conditions. Try bouncing the lure off objects, as well, to create vibrations, noise, and water displacement. This will attract strikes when fish are less inclined to do so on their own.
Slow approaches work well when using finesse tactics, such as a Texas-rig or a drop-shot. However, many anglers find a slow approach works well with crankbaits, as well. A slow gear ratio will maintain a steady, strong retrieve, but doesn’t use as much force. Less force will allow you to feel what your crankbait is doing throughout the retrieve, which will better enable you to feel a strike.
While there are instances when a fast, aggressive retrieval is optimal, sometimes it’s important to slow things down and give the fish a chance to strike. When in doubt as to what speed will work best, I suggest starting out slow in order to get a feel for how the fish are acting on a given day, then gradually speed up your retrieve to test the waters, so to speak. We can’t rush things when it comes to fishing, and we have to remember that, no matter what tackle we use or how many years we’ve been fishing, we’re still at the mercy of the fish. Keep that in mind and see what retrieval speed you can get away with.