Playing and Landing
To become a better fisherman you need to master a variety of techniques. You have to learn to read the water and how to present your bait properly. But one of the most important skills to be learned is how to play and land your fish.
It is a basic skill that many anglers lack. It accounts for many thousands of lost fish every year. So what are all these anglers doing wrong? Why are so many fish getting away?
One problem is that many anglers who use a fixed-spool reel have little or no understanding of how the clutch on such a reel operates. They have no idea how to set the clutch correctly. They are probably not even aware that the clutch is wrongly set.
The first of our fly-fishing-tips is designed to tell you how to check that your clutch is correctly set. Hold the fishing rod in your left hand with your finger resting lightly on the rim of the spool and pull the line as hard as you can. Increase the pressure exerted by your finger on the edge of the spool to the maximum that you can manage. The clutch should not slip, if it does then it is set too loosely, setting it too tightly will result in the line breaking.
Having set the clutch correctly you can be confident that a running fish will not break the line.
When a fish bites press your finger onto the rim of the spool. Then if you hold the rod at an angle of between 15 & 30 degrees from the vertical you can be sure that the pressure being exerted on the line and therefore on the fish will be considerable. In fact the line will be close to breaking point. However, if the clutch is set correctly the line will remain intact.
Pumping & Netting
Eventually a running fish will tire and stop. When this happens you will want to reel the fish ’in’. This is done by employing a technique called ’pumping’.
When the fish is more or less stationary turn the spool to wind the line ‘in’ and at the same time lower the rod until it’s tip is almost horizontal. Then apply pressure to the rim of the spool with your finger and raise the rod until it has regained its former position. Repeat this process until the fish is either ready to be netted or begins a new run.
Having expended so much energy trying to escape, the fish will be exhausted. By this time it will be wallowing or lying on the surface ready to be netted.
Position the net approximately 1 foot below the surface of the water, lower the rod until the tip is horizontal and at the same time gripping the net with your other hand. Raise the rod back over your shoulder ( not forgetting to maintain strong pressure on the spool rim with your finger) and pull the fish towards you. When the fish is directly above the net raise the net thus capturing the fish.
As with most things in life there are rules which need to be observed if we wish to be successful in our chosen field, fishing is no exception. When netting fish there are two golden rules. The first is that you must have complete control over the fish. To achieve this you must maintain the rod at the correct angle, i.e. no more than 30 degrees to the vertical as the fish is drawn over the net. The second rule is, keep the net still and pull the fish over it, do not move the net towards the fish!
When you go fly-fishing you will meet many enthusiasts who have been enjoying this sport for many years, often decades. Apart from being a source of never ending fishing tales, they will also provide you with a plethora of free fly-fishing-tips that should make your time on the water more productive.
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