How to Catch a Longnose Gar



     Because of their unique, slender snout, longnose are pound-for-pound the most difficult gar to hook. It was these gar that spurred early anglers to develop bizarre methods to catch them. The most common methods are the nylon rope lure and live baiting.

Gar angler and educator Robert Mills of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has perfected the rope lure. Here is his recommendation:

Take a 6” length of Ace brand 3/8ths inch, soft braided nylon rope. With a lighter, melt one end. Unravel the main braids from the other end leaving about 1½ inches for the head. Tie off the head with some unravelled strands. Tie onto main line with a standard half-hitch or slip knot. Mills has never had a gar pull the lure free from the main line. Nor do they often cut the line because their teeth get too entangled in the nylon. Fish it like you would a worm for bass with a slow, stop-and-go retrieve. When the gar hits, resist the urge to set the “hook”. Just apply steady pressure; the gar will then shake its head entangling the teeth in the rope. The gar must be active for this method to work, otherwise they hit short and don’t get entangled. This is not as effective with spotted or shortnose gar due to their broader snouts. Fish this rope lure with a Garcia 5500 spooled with heavy mono or Spiderwire on a 7-foot, long-handled flipping stick.

Commercially made rope lures are available also. For more information, visit Jack Barnett’s site at:

For live baiting longnose, try the following:

Rig a 4”-6” shiner minnow through the lips or eyes on a premium, sharp #4 treble hook. Attach a #4 treble stinger back towards the tail. Add split shots if necessary. Cast and gently stop-and-go retrieve this bait with your rod tip held high. When a gar takes, drop your rod tip to give slack then open the bail to let the gar run. Allow the longnose to run for at least a minute. Often they will run, then stop to swallow the bait, then run again. On this second run, close your bail, reel in the slack line then slam those hooks home! Yee-haw! Enjoy the fight, take pictures, and release the gar to fight again. Send pictures in to GASS.
For this fishing, we recommend a 6’+ spinning rod with a good-quality spinning reel spooled with 14lb Fireline. The Fireline has very little stretch which is important for long-distance hook sets. It also resists nicking from sharp gar teeth thus a cumbersome leader is not necessary.
A similar rig can be set up with a float for set fishing.