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Fighting And Landing A Fish.
People all over the world get into the sport of fly fishing for various reasons. Some like the look of a fly fisherman casting back and forth. Others love being out on the river or learning the art of imitating a fly that naturally lands on the water and floats the current. Some just love catching fish and that's another way to do it. Some people love how active it is compared to other forms of fishing. Whatever your reason you'll quickly find that those with good technique land more fish. Casting and hooking up is one part but have you ever fished with someone who seems to lose more fish that they should? They might be trying to muscle the fish in with inconsistent movements or letting the fish run too much not keeping proper tension. They may have their rod tip down or a variety of other mistakes we've all made at some point in our fishing careers. I've put together a few thoughts about fighting and landing a fish on a fly rod in hopes that you anglers might land a few more fish.
Setting the Hook
Setting the hook can vary a little depending on the type of fish you're catching. Different varieties have tougher or softer mouths, but I've got trout in mind. Set the hook firmly but not too hard. Remember fly fishing tackle is light weight and very sensitive. Lift the rod tip like you are peeling the line off the water for a new cast, if the fish is on, adjust the pressure at the top of your back cast to keep proper tension, you'll learn to feel the tension through your rod. You'll immediately be able to tell what size of fish you are about to wrestle. Hold pressure on the fish by putting the tip straight up don't yank on the line or run backwards, we've seen plenty of people do this.
Use Your Equipment.
Just like learning to feel a rod load when casting, you can feel the rod working on a fish keeping proper tension. It is extremely important to keep your rod held straight up so the entire rod can bend and work. Long time friend and trusted guide Jace Adams always says. "Keep the tension on the rod not on the line." When you put your rod tip down the tension is completely on your line which doesn't have near enough elasticity to bend with the fish's rapid movements and jerking motions.
Many anglers get so excited to land the fish they start stripping line to muscle the fish in quickly. As stated before your equipment is light, meaning, your hook is probably small the leader is usually light weight and the rod itself is very flexible and sensitive. This allows you to work a fish, tire it out and land the fish without breaking the line, or pulling the tiny hook right out of it's mouth.
Working the Fish
Work the fish, use your equipment and use the current. Fish often run hard and fast first then chill out a bit, however, once they see the angler is trying to net them or land them they'll usually put up one more fight.
Don’t muscle the fish by stripping line too quickly, sometimes you may need to give the fish more line to run but maintain tension or your rapid heart rate will quickly slow when the fish throws the hook. The tension keeps the hook secure as well as tires the fish. Ideally the fish will run up stream so it's fighting you and the current. Sometimes you can lead the fish up stream by angling your rod in that direction while keeping the rod positioned to do the work. Let him get tired. As long as there aren't any obvious traps he's trying to wrap your line in to break off, let him work.
Keep in mind these steps will all happen very fast. Trout get tired very quickly, so when I say things like let him work or even run, it will be a short fast sprint so you have to make these techniques habit.
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Landing the Fish
A tired fish is on the line and ready for the net, or so you think. Fish usually have one last fit to throw as they are coming in so be ready for that but also don't under-estimate a little technique for netting a fish. Get the far end of the net deep enough that when he runs or fights a little he doesn't go under or around your net. It sucks to lose a fish that rapped the line around your net or ankle. give him one place to run, into your net.
Leave a foot or two of fly line past the tip of your rod, you don't want any more pressure than necessary on your leader, it's not nearly as strong. Hold the rod high above your head with the tip still raised so the head of the fish is coming slightly upward move the rod slightly behind you while reaching with the net in the other hand, get the net into the water and under the fish.
It all happens quickly but these techniques will help you land more of those fish you've spent so much time convincing to bite. There is a special feeling an angler gets after landing fish. I hope you enjoy holding a few more fish as you walk the rivers.