How to Keep a Prop Bait From Tangling

Topwater fishing lures with propeller blades front and back have a tendency to catch the line and tangle. Here's an easy tip you can use to avoid that problem and catch more fish.

How to Keep a Prop Bait From Tangling

Adding a bit of plastic tube, like from a WD-40 spray can, in front of the bait can help minimize tangles between the front prop and line. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

The gentle "frrriiizzzz" didn't sound right, nor were there sputters of water from the front of the bait. Once you've thrown a topwater with twin propellers, you know the sound and learn any changes that indicate trouble.

My thoughts were confirmed. I was throwing a PH Lures Saltwater Series Twin Spin. It's made by custom baitsmith Phil Hunt in Indiana. Upon inspection, the front prop had snagged the line, which was wrapped four or five times around the blade and shaft. After untanging, the nasty loops wouldn't straighten so I retied. Five or six casts later, it happened again.

I switched lures because I didn't want a bass hitting the bait while tangled, which likely would've resulted in a snapped line. The line also could've held but damaged the props. So, I didn't take the risk. But just for kicks, I tried the lure with monofilament, co-polymer and braided line. I knew the braid would tangle but I'm stubborn. Curious, too. The braid wrapped worse than the other two, as expected. Nasty mess.

Fishing isn't always perfect whether it's for bass, marlin, trout or bluegill. You have to be ready for anything, or at least I do. After more than 40 years of fishing it's just part of my makeup. But the tangle had me flummoxed.

I called Hunt to inquire about what to do. He was finishing for the afternoon to go fish an evening bass tournament with fellow Hoosier and pro angler Bill Lowen. 

"It just happens, unfortunately, with prop baits," Hunt said. "It happens to me, too. When you make the twitch, sometime the bait runs ahead and gets the line, and then it wraps around. You could gently bend the prop blades back but that changes the action and sound, so I don't recommend that."

Hunt said his simple trick to greatly minimize tangles is to cut about 3/4s of an inch of plastic tube and slide it on the line. My immediate thought was of one from a can of WD-40, which he mentioned. That slender, small-diameter tube is perfect to slide on the line in front of the bait to help prevent tangles. During the retrieve it doesn't interfere with the action.

"Lowen uses five or six bobber stoppers on his line instead of the tube," Hunt said, "but I think it looks bad. He just laughs at me and says if a bass is studying the line that closely to see them, it's not going to hit. But I prefer the little tube. It works, and the bobber stoppers work, too."

I have more of Hunt's saltwater Twin Spin baits on the way, in pearl-green. I think that color works for freshwater or saltwater. I also like the Rapala X-Rap Prop, which has a thinner profile and more subtle sound.

Now, my task is to buy some bobber stoppers and not throw away any old WD-40 cans with the tubes.

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