Catch Quicker... Welfare at Heart

Playing Our Quarry

Believe it or not there are certain things we can do to bring trout to the net quicker and more safely when it comes to playing our catch. 
Let’s face it, we’ve all stood there motionless with the rod held vertically while we let a hooked fish swim around for what seems an age until it tires itself...

Not just talking beginners here, even some experienced anglers forget the basics occasionally.
Granted the fish might well be landed successfully, but it’s likely several minutes will have elapsed and chances are the trout in question will be exhausted

Additionally the build up of lactic acid in the trout’s body now can be fatal.
Given this, we owe it to our quarry to try and land them as quickly as possible after a successful “hook-up”. 
Granted, every fish we hook are individuals and will react differently when they feel tension

That said there are various actions we can take to put the odds in our favour and take the fight to the fish, rather than let stubborn trout tow us around instead.

After the trout’s first run, which is usually the most searing, we need to take control

This is best done by leaning the rod over to a horizontal plane to apply sideways pressure on fish in the same axis as the swim. 

Such sideways strain can be used to “steer” trout too, either away from submerged snags, or in a direction we want to lead them. 

Sensing this side strain, most fish will pull against this and swim away from the direction of pull. 
For example: if our rod is hooped over to our left-hand side, trout will usually head off to the right. 

Now, switching planes by swinging the rod 180 degrees to our right-hand side the fish will counter this by turning and swimming to our left. 
In effect, what you’re doing is causing the trout to continually change direction, which tires them much sooner. 

Furthermore they have little time to think now as all they are doing is reacting to your rod angle, so the seldom have free rein to do whatever they want.
In particular, wild fish often take to the air now.  Whether you’re using barbed, or barbless/de-barded hooks this is when most fish are lost.

It’s because fish are pulled towards by rod pressure once they leap due to less resistance in air than in water.

This serves to create slack line in the system that allows trout to throw the hook.
The worst case scenario however, is that fish can also fall back on fragile tippets and actually break them, especially where large reservoir trout are concerned, or more flimsy tippet lengths are the order of the day.
bow to the king

A good trick used by those who fish for ocean going tarpon, or fresh run salmon is to “bow to the king”, by pointing your rod at the fish when it leaps.

This reduces more intense pressure and thus prevents the fish being tugged towards you, which as mentioned above creates unwanted slack.
As to determining when a fish might leap, simply keep an eye on the angle of your fly line, as the trout rises to the surface this angle becomes more shallow, giving us a moments warning to prepare for any action we might take!  
By using the 180 degree sweep described above, you’ll be surprised how much more quickly you can get fish to a waiting net. 

That said, once trout near the net, we advise hold the rod vertical now and thus applying less pressure, as remember with little fly line outside the rid tip, little, if any stretch is in the system now. 

As for netting fish, always steer them into the rim head first. 

The reason being that fish don’t have a reverse gear and can’t swim backwards.

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