Fly Fishing Strategies- No Fish, No Glory, No Nothing.

first of all i’d like to point out that i’m not sharing this as a ha-ha thing but rather as a hopefully constructive analysis as to why none of these fish where landed.
lets have a look at the video first.

as always, considering the countless variables involved, it’s not the easiest thing to give exact causes without having been in there in person but here is a list of most probable reasons why all these fish came off.

– hooks
hook sharpness is very often completely ignored whether before or after tying or while fishing. a lot of hooks are dull out of the box and need to be honed before being fished.
simply put, dull hooks don’t go in well and if they don’t go in well they can’t stay there until we remove them.
add to that some barbed hooks have ridiculously big barbs… barbwhich means that even more force needs to be imparted to the line for them to set properly. of course, we don’t have that problem when using barbless hooks.
i’ll quickly check the hook point every single time it comes to hand or when it has touched a branch, grass, waterbed, stone or whatever. the finest hook hones i’ve found are Arkansas stone small-tool sharpening wedges. a few light licks and the hook is as good or better than new. yup, it’s anal but it means hooking up with a lot more fish: well worth the minor trouble.

– striking
indeed, simply lifting the rod can sometimes be good enough to set the hook but for sure wasn’t in this video. most strikes are well, wimpy when ‘setting it good’ should be the norm as we need to transmit authority from the beginning of the strike till the fish is in the net.
striking properly in these conditions includes taking into account the current’s speed and direction, the slack line on the water and also how we perform the strike itself.

– on the water line management
we’ll notice a few times that mends where put in near the rod tip in the slower water while the fly was in the faster. it’s not going to help the fly’s drift in any way and the only thing that can do is give even more slack to pick up before actually pulling the line tight to set the hook. by that time the fish has either spat out the hook or the fly is only partially in its mouth. no good.
for sure, very often we need to have slack in the line system to achieve the desired drift of our flies but we need to keep the slack to an absolute minimum while still having the necessary amount doing what its supposed to do: that is, just what’s needed but no more or we won’t be able to strike effectively when the time comes !
to do this we need to ‘multi-task’ a little and be in control of this slack while spying the fly or fish. this requires matching the whole rod/line unit to the current’s speed and direction and by retrieving line with the line hand and by always keeping the rod tip low near the water’s surface, tracking the line on the water.
the exact same principle of starting a cast with the rod tip low applies here. the more line sag at the rod tip we have, the more we need to move the rod before line tension is regained.

– rod position during the strike and fight
striking with an inert line hand means having to displace the rod tip much further to pick up slack before starting to add tension to the line/leader system to set the hook. the typical scenario involves bringing the rod tip towards the vertical (and often behind the angler !) while the line hand follows the rod grip and then floundering with the line hand above the head to regain control of the line. not only is this clumsy and one of the best ways to loose fish but it’s also rather well… dumb. the line hand is already there holding the line so why not pull the line down as the rod goes up ? if you think about it, pulling the line down should be instinctual but somehow the opposite has become the norm. interesting.

– rod angle
when the rod tip is vertical we’re only using a short length of the rod’s line tension potential as only the finer, weaker tip is bent. rod characteristics vary but that’s typically about 1/5 to 1/4 of the rod length.
if we apply the same line tension force by keeping the rod at say, 45°, we’re using about 2/3 or more of the rod’s line tension potential. that’s a lot more and this not only gives more line tension but we also have a much longer ‘spring’ as a shock-absorber to help us not break off the tippet.
the same +/- ’45° ideal rod position applies to the fight. apply more line tension on the fish and the less chances it has of coming off, we tire it faster, we control the fish instead of it controlling us and we get to release the fish in a much healthier and stronger state.
as a side note, apart from instances where there are obstacles between us and the fish such as rocks, little islands and such and we want to avoid our line from tangling or cutting, i can’t for the life of me think why the rod tip needs to go up high. ‘down and dirty’ gets the job done better, we get to pull the fish in the direction that we want/need and we also get to use water current to our advantage. a few little somethings to think about.

in a nutshell, the comments above are the basis of the ‘Strike-Fight-Land’ demo i’ve been sharing for the last three years. there’s of course a lot more to the demo in real and it includes viewer interaction where they immediately understand and feel the line tension differences but i hope these few words will get the notion through. you’ll notice that the tactics above come straight from large fish or salt water tactics. they’re simply a cross-over adaptation to smaller waters and smaller fish that have become universal because they simply make my fishing more efficient. to conclude, the good thing about today’s video is i didn’t need to include landing tactics… 😆

2 thoughts on “Fly Fishing Strategies- No Fish, No Glory, No Nothing.

  1. Shared on my fb page. I enjoyed the words, “transmit authority”…. It was kind of fun watching those guys have the worst time and wishing I was there to tell them to stop holding the rod like that! Losing fish makes me sick. Good tips.

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