Save it with a Tackle Back
  |  First Published: July 2006

Anyone who has ever trolled or cast lures for Murray cod or yellowbelly will have got them snagged. Getting them back though need not involve a swim and can save you big bucks over a few summer seasons.

Since it was released many moons ago I have been using the Tackle Back. I can’t count the number of lures it has rescued for me over the years.

It’s become a permanent member of my native lure fishing kit, and has also been effective on northern expeditions too, when chasing snag-loving saltwater species such as barra and mangrove jack.

design features

Tackle Backs are very cleverly designed. The various copies on the market have not done the original any favours. The key to the great design is the line clip or what the manufacturers call the pigtail. This is placed and twisted perfectly to allow anglers to run their line through it easily – something that copies have struggled with.

The other design features that help make the Tackle Back work so well are the triangle cut out in the lead block and the wire arm design. The wire arm’s eyelet and hook allows the device to be opened easily. Line is then placed through it and the hook planted back into the eyelet, safely closing the device so that the line cannot come out of the arm during the salvage operation.

The bottom of the arm or loop is curved so the retriever can jump onto swivels or snaps.

Setting It Up

To set your Tackle Back up for use, tie on a 10-20m length of Venetian blind cord that will not dig into your hands. Attach this to a handline spool. Make sure the cord is strong. I’ve seen a few anglers use heavy mono, like that you would use when hand-lining over heavy reef. But with the deterioration of the mono over time, and particularly in the sun, the mono eventually gives up under strain. Better to stick with cord that won’t deteriorate and can handle a strong bloke pulling on it.

One word of warning. Never ever use braided fishing line as your retrieval cord. It will lead to deep cuts on your hands and a whole world of pain.

How it works

Once you’ve run the line through the pigtail at the top of the Tackle Back, and clipped it into the wire arm at the bottom, keep a tight line from rod to lure and slide the retriever down the line to the lure.

Once the retriever is at lure depth you can jiggle it to connect the wire arm to the swivel or snap if you’re using one, or you can jig the retriever up and down vigorously to hammer the lure off the snag. Alternatively, bounce the retriever right over the top of the lure so the wire arm can connect with the hooks.

I usually start with a jiggle and if that doesn’t work, I go for the bounce manoeuvre. This will retrieve almost all snagged lures.


Sometimes you’ll have to work at a lure for a few minutes to get the angle right. On other occasions the lure comes away from the snag on the first jiggle.

One trick for better success is to drop the rod tip as the Tackle Back is about to hit the lure. This allows the Tackle Back to get below the lure where it can snag on the hooks. Sometimes, dropping the rod tip also pulls the lure off from below, simply because of the weight of the retriever and the different angle of pull.


All is not perfect in the Tackle Back world though and you won’t recover every lure. It’s not so much the fault of the retriever, but more so how your lure has been snagged. I know why you can’t get your lure back sometimes because I’ve popped on a diving mask, swum down and had a look.

Line Cut

The first problem, and perhaps the hardest to get your lure back from, is when you’re using braided line and the line cuts into the end of a log. The braid is so thin that when it comes into contact with the end of a log that has been underwater for years, it slices straight into the log, leaving the lure stuck inside the log and out of the reach of the Tackle Back. You can try to run the boat straight back over the log to pull the line out of the log or you can kiss your lure goodbye. It’s a tough one.

Fine Stuff

The second scenario where you can have trouble is in fine branches. If you’re trolling a deep diving lure and it snags down deep there may be up to 20 branches above where your lure is snagged. The Tackle Back has to find a way through all the fine branches before it can reach the lure to do its work.

You can jiggle the Tackle Back around and hopefully work it through the snags or you can try to manoeuvre the line off some of the snags first with good boat driving. Either way takes a bit of time, but you can retrieve a lure from this type of snag with patience.

Shore Based

Being shore based reduces the effectiveness of the Tackle Back too. Because it’s heavy, the Tackle Back will lower the angle of the line to the lure if you’re not directly above the snag.

This can mean the Tackle Back runs down the line until it hits the bottom or tries to run under the snag, not over it to your lure. I’d still carry one if fishing from the shore, but be aware of its limitations.

cheap investment

If you’re into lure fishing, be that trolling or casting, you’d be mad not to have a tackle retriever of some sort. I’ve love the Tackle Back and like American Express, wouldn’t leave home without it.

So if you’re just getting started or am sick of losing pricey lures then drop into your nearest tackle store, grab a handline, some heavy cord and a Tackle Back and get ready to save yourself some money.



Small and large rigged$25
Small and large unrigged$13

Reads: 8720

Matched Content ... powered by Google