Fly Fishing Tips: Playing and Landing Fish
When you get ready to make your first cast at a new location how often do take the time to think about how you are going the play the fish you hope to catch? Most people we have talked to tell us they never give it a thought. They also tell us they lose more than their fair share of fish. Think there is any correlation?
One of the best pieces of advice we can offer you is to pre-plan your strategy for landing your fish before you make your cast. First assume that every cast is going to result in a fish. That way you are ready. Next, establish in your mind how you are going to the handle the fish. This means evaluating the current seams and potential spots your fish is likely to head for. With those things in mind determine the direction that you want to set the hook. The hook set direction allows you to turn the fish in the direction that YOU want the fish to go. The best direction to turn the fish is into the current. By doing this, the fish is working against both the pressure you are applying and the pressure of the current. Be careful not to turn the fish too far into the current. If you do he is likely to take advantage of your mistake and run downstream below you.
These initial actions will give you control over the situation. Remember it is you playing the fish and NOT the fish playing you. Be assertive with your fish. Too many people are afraid that if they take the fight to a fish they will "break them off." Think about how hard you have to pull to break off a fly caught in a tree! Remember, the longer you have a fish on the more time you have to make a mistake and lose your fish. And, over-playing a fish can also be just a deadly as keeping it.
By being assertive, you will get the fish quickly under control. Once you have established control, get the fish's head up out of the water. Once their head is out of the water they tend to give up the fight. Now you can slide the fish to you. As you bring the fish to you raise your rod tip and encircle, not grab, the leader between you thumb and fingers. Slide your hand down the leader to the fly. Now you can either grab the fly and shake it lose or grasp the fish by the lower jaw to remove the fly.
One other thing. We play by Montana Rules. If you touch the leader you can claim the fish as caught.