The Deadly Drag

He might be smiling now, but go fish fast and recklessly in the presence of professional guide Tom Neustrom, and that smile will turn upside down in a heartbeat. Patient as a saint, Neustrom generates big results by slowly dragging a Northland jig beneath a bobber for springtime crappies. Photo courtesy of Frabill (

“Slow and steady wins the race.” I’m a disciple of the philosophy. In real life, the examples are countless. Consider the marathoner. The guy who paces himself for 26.2 miles is sure to pass the jackrabbit before reaching the tape. Same can be said of investing. Principle plus interest plus time is a proven formula. Speculative get rich quick schemes seldom succeed.
This principle applies to fishing as well. Sometimes, neurotically motoring from spot to spot in whirlwind fashion produces fish – sometimes. More often, though, I adhere to the premise that you can’t get bit without a line in the water. Again, the turtle trumps the hare.
Same can be said of the retrieve. The tendency for many anglers, no matter the circumstances, is to burn the bait back to the boat, already envisioning the next cast before the current cast is fully realized. And in no situation is this more glaring than when battling cold water, springtime panfish.
Maybe the reason for all the rush is as basic as pent-up energy from a winter’s worth of ice fishing, or perhaps not fishing at all, electing to read about it in a recliner – shameful behavior. Regardless, fishing-feverishly-fast in the spring accomplishes nothing more than burning a bait over the snouts of fish that would have likely accepted something slower, more catchable.
Well, say hello to “dragging” and goodbye to speed fishing. As the name implies, the presentation is “dragged” past the fish, not rocketed like the mechanical rabbit at a dog track. The purpose is to offer a tantalizing, almost mesmerizing morsel to lethargic crappies. And everyone knows they’re notoriously stationary and moody in the spring.

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