How to Untangle a Snarled Fishing Handline

If you are into handline fishing -which is a very enjoyable pursuit, by the way — chances are you've experienced tangled lines. It happens easily: you lay the line on the ground, boat or pier surface, and when the lengths of line are disturbed, strands move into, under or over other strands, which, when pulled tight, can trap those disturbed lines. This results to snarled lines of loose knots and loops.

Unraveling such tangles can be frustrating, especially if you don't know how or have little patience for those things. The easy way out is to simply cut off the tangled mess and reconnect the lines together with a blood knot. Or cut into the middle of the mess, pull out what can be reconnected and discard the rest. But you lose a length of line those ways, and you have a knot in the line that can hurt your hand when fighting a feisty fish.

You can avoid this unpleasant cutting and reconnecting with a little patience and some gumption. There are only several things to remember.

Tangles occur when loops of line are trapped by other loops . Such loops are often similar to slip knots, in that the knot disappears when the trapped lines are pulled out. The trick, therefore, is to check if a loop is a trapped one, determined through parallel lines going under a single line, and pulling out the trapped loop so the trapping lines can unravel completely. Pull on a loop and see where its continuation is, then pull out the continuing line to eliminate the trapped loop.

Do this to all the loops you can find.

Don't tighten the tangle . While to more easily see the loops you might have to draw on lines, thus tightening the tangle somewhat, refrain from drawing them completely tight. Doing so will make it more difficult to pull out the loops, and will give you kinked portions of the line as well. As you know, kinks in the line reduce its sensitivity to bites and increase the line's tendency to form new tangles.

Just pull on the tangle enough to see the interconnection of loops that you can unravel and no more.

You can unravel the tangle by pulling out the end . If the tangle looks too difficult to unravel, you can cut off the end, pull on it to see where it leads to in the tangle, then pull on that portion until the end slips out. Do this again and again and pretty soon you would have unraveled the tangle. Retie your terminal knot.

If you do not have time or inclination to do this, just wind in the line with the tangle into your spool and attempt to unravel it at home or when you have time. Otherwise you will be inclined to take the path of least resistance, and that is to massacre the tangle to your chagrin later.