Can bass see fishing line? I absolutely believe they can. Being a predator near the top of the food chain in most freshwater ecosystems, a bass possesses the senses of acute sight and superior sound detection. It seems plausible, to me, bass can see fishing line. However, the real question should be, can bass determine fishing line as a dangerous situation and retreat from it.
Can Bass See Fishing Line – Learned danger
For a bass to determine fishing line is dangerous and prevent striking, it would first have to experience a situation where fishing line caused an undesirable effect. Then it would have to remember the adverse effect and react to it when seen again. To think a bass possesses this capability seems unrealistic to me. When a bass strikes a bait and is hooked, it’s instinct is to escape. During the escape process, I don’t believe a bass is trying to determine what got it into this situation; processing only evasive maneuvers to escape. Once released, I also don’t believe a bass heads for cover and replays the situation to determine what not to do in the future. Arguments have been made suggesting a bass recognizes the object being fought is the fishing line. If this is true, during the entire battle, the fishing line is being imprinted on the bass as a negative experience. A bass does everything in its life based on instinct. Location, feeding, and reproduction are all based on its environment. A bass will live near the best food source and in the most comfortable water conditions, then when all conditions are correct, it will start the reproduction process. There is nothing to suggest it performs any of these processes from learning.
Can Bass See Fishing Line – Taught Instinct
After saying bass live by instinct, I also know bass can be taught. I have had several different bass in an aquarium for many years. Each bass learned certain feeding characteristics. As an example, when the bass sees a red aquarium net, it will get excited. The net means minnows are coming. It only takes about a week, of twice a day feeding, for a bass to learn the red net means food. I’ve also had bass learn a Styrofoam carton meant food, night crawlers. When it comes to food, an aquarium bass learns very quickly.
Breaking it down by the numbers, let’s assume two things: An aquarium bass possesses the same mindset as a non-aquarium bass; feeding is as strong of a stimulus as being caught. A bass would have to be caught twice a day for seven days straight before it would associate fishing line, lure, boat noise or any of the environmental inputs with a negative experience. In opposition to this thought process, negative experiences are learned much quicker than positive ones. Negative experiences are learned quickly with any species. Swat a dog with a newspaper for peeing on the floor and it will only take a couple of times before it learns a lifetime of going outside to pee. However give the same dog a treat for shaking hands and it will take several days of repeated lessons before it shakes hands without a reward. And then, it is a forgotten lesson if not occasionally reminded. I provide this example to say comparing a bass’s ability to remember fishing line as a negative experience to a bass remembering positive experiences may not be a reliable study. Also, I do believe a dog possesses a much greater learning ability.
Can Bass See Fishing Line Spooling The Right Line – Conditions Matter
Now for some practical experience. I live in the south with dark (cypress stained) to muddy water. All my reels for soft plastics and jigs are spooled with braided line. I love the sensitivity and strength braided lines afford me, and with our water color, visibility is not a concern. I recently fished a tournament on a lake described as very clear by our standards. During prefishing efforts, I was only getting a few bites a day. Looking for an advantage on tournament day, I spooled my Texas rigged rod with fluorocarbon line. Overall tournament competitors found it tough to catch quality bass. Catching a limit was easy; however, size was a real issue. I caught several bass myself, but averaged three pounds per fish, whereas the competition only managed 10 to 13-inch bass. Was the fluorocarbon the difference? Impossible to tell in just a single event, but the results have me wanting to experiment more.
For a bass to learn it needs constant input. To learn fishing line is a negative experience, a bass would have to be repeatedly hooked in a relatively short time frame. It’s easy for anglers to blame failure on the equipment used, this prevents blame on abilities or knowledge. The next time bass strike baits better with either monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid, consider the effects the line has on the lure. Does the bait fall slower or faster, vibrate more or less, dive deeper, rise faster? There are many factors fishing line imparts on lures which could be causing the positive or negative reactions anglers experience.
Get the Net it’s a Hawg
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