Gar Fishing With a Nylon Rope

Gar fish in murky water by David Sledge

As a kid I remember chasing sand bass on Lake Texoma. Once in a blue moon you'd see some fish schooling, slide in and pull back a fishing lure with straightened fishing hooks. Dad would say, "Pull 'em in boys, it's just gar."

Later, one of dad's buddy's made some fishing lures with a piece of frayed nylon rope about 5- to -6 inches. The gar would bite it and their teeth would get tangled in the rope. I don't remember ever using that lure but I thought I'd give it a try.

Angler fishing gar with nylon rope
The author with a gar caught using a nylon rope, jigheads and a plastic tail.

Fast forward to last week — 50 years later — we're now noodling on an undisclosed river in Kansas and see a lot of gar surfacing. Hmm, I wonder if that old wive's tale about the nylon rope would really work?

About Using a Rope Lure to Fish for Gar

I grabbed some 1/8 ounce jig heads and some plastic 4-inch tails. Use swimbait something like the popular Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad or 4-inch Ring Worm like the Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Ring Worm. Tie on your jig, hook the plastic and then unwind a soft nylon rope and tie it around the head of your jig.

I then cut it about 3 1/2-inches long. Otherwise the tail gets tangled up in the rope and it doesn't work for you. The tail flipping attracts them better although we did hang some with a 6-inch rope.

Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad swimbait
Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad

If they're feeding, throw right past where they hit just like on any fish and drag it through the ring. Since I'm fishing in a river I throw it upstream a couple of feet in case he moved ahead. Many times I'll throw it out and hold my rod tip up so the jig is dangling near the surface. In Idaho we do what we call hot shotting. That's when you dangle a STORM Original ot 'N Tot out back of your drift boat in a hole to catch a steelhead. It reminds me of that.

Kalin's Ultimate Jigheads
Kalin's Ultimate Jigheads

If I'm not getting hits on top I'll reel slowly along the bottom and pick up some down there. That's where I hang most of my bigger gar. They seem to favor slower water as a whole and the still back eddies. One day I hung a ton of them beside a log jam. They must have been lying in there thick as thieves.

The other afternoon I hung a 4-footer gar and had him nearly fought in and he snapped off. In a few more minutes I hung one for a few seconds and never got him off the bottom before he spit the hook. He was a nice one, I imagine pushing 5-feet.

At least right now they've really been active between 5:30-7:30 p.m. and then they just shut off. They like the sunny afternoons but we did okay on a cloudy day as well. In fact I had 37 hits in two hours and my buddy Brandon Nuckles had as many.

Gar Are One of the Best Kept Secrets in the Angling World

Tuesday, I hung one nice fish that ripped the drag 2-3 times before I really started making any headway. It almost reminded me of a king salmon taking a run. I finally turned him and started working him in. I had the gar almost to me and he ripped loosed. I figure the gar's size was pushing 5 foot. On the bigger sized gar, I think it is better to not be super aggressive or the nylon rope just doesn't hold.

Havalon Piranta-Z Replaceable Blade Folding Knife with Zytel Grip
Havalon Piranta-Z Replaceable Blade
Folding Knife

We walked on downstream and then I hooked into a nice gar. It was only waist deep but it was a little swifter so he put up a fight. We finally got him in and he measured out at 45-inches. We took a few pics and let him go.

We just grab them 1/3 of the way down the body. Half the time you'll have to cut the nylon loose to free the gar. You'll want to carry a Havalon knife because you'll need a knife that is super sharp so you can hurry and free the fish.

It also works good to stand on a sandbar (submerged) in front of the hole and throw to them. That way you can hold up your rod tip and hot shot it. I get quite a few hits that way. About 70 percent of our fishing will be throwing to their last swirl but I've also got a bunch just by casting around. It seems most of my bigger ones are down a little deeper.

They haven't really been too spooky. I've had jet boats crank right in beside the holes we're fishing in and they just keep hitting. It seems like most of them will go deeper but regardless, I keep getting fish.

As we close, you may just want to try tying into a lowly gar. I love it!


Feature photo credit: David Sledge Gar via photopin (license)