Guide to Fibs

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Published on: Feb. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

Speculating on what you've hooked before you see it is always an interesting part of any angling adventure. In fact, most the folks I fish with pride themselves on their "fish-identification-before-seeing" (FIBS) ability. And the truly adept can excel at identifying different species of fish.Remembering that there are exceptions to every rule, here are some of the clues for FIBS.


This tactic is often used by fish that spend most of their existence on or near the bottom in deep water. Most notable among this group is the walleye. Anglers anticipate the thrill of bringing a toothy, marble-eyed beauty to the surface after feeling the distinctive shaking of a nightcrawler-tipped jig in 14-16 feet of water.


A friend uses the word "buzzsaw" to describe bluegill, because of their persistent circular gyrations. We've all heard it a hundred times - but it bears repeating - if bluegill were capable of growing to 4 to 5 pounds, catching one could be life-threatening.


Just about every fish will wind up in the tugger category at one time or another. A thumping pull gets me thinking catfish. Although, the closer catfish come to the boat the more they go into the buzzsaw mode. Channel cats especially seem to delight in twisting revolutions that leave fish and angler dizzy.


Runners are best depicted by the white and striped bass, although drum and carp will fit here too. Don't overlook gar as another example of fish that clobber a lure or bait and just keep going. These are sturdy specimens that don't immediately realize, or care, that there's someone in tow.


Leapers don't leave much to the imagination. This trait probably shouldn't even be considered as an element of FIBS. After all, once the fish breaks water, identification isn't too difficult, unless you are momentarily distracted or myopic.

A trout or bass repeatedly popping out of the water quickly makes up for the disappointment of not getting to test your FIBS skills. However, the truly perceptive can implement FIBS before the leaping begins. You see, fighting method isn't the only element of FIBS.

Striking FIBS:

Most anglers use a combination of the fish's fighting and striking techniques to achieve FIBS. Strike classifications range from "thermo-nuclear blast" to "barely noticeable," with several levels between. It takes a truly talented angler to successfully employ FIBS using only evidence provided by the strike. Although, strike may be a bit of a misnomer in the case of some of

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