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Ronan's report

Sunday February 24th, 2008

We've had a good discussion on missed takes/mistakes on the board this week, inspired by Morsie's excellent shots of a big rainbow apparently missing or refusing a fly. For me, and a couple others including Morsie, it's a missed take - by the fish not the fisherman. I've been thinking about another problem this week, after a couple of days on one of our local lakes. This time it's bust-offs.

I was fishing with my two brothers from Canada and Ron Jones. We had a pretty good day, as far as rising fish was concerned anyway, but my brother Bill and I had a bad run of bust-offs. We were fishing dry cicadas to rising fish, although there were few cicada on the water. I broke fish after fish until I settled down, and I've had runs like this before. There were certainly no mistakes by the trout - they were nailing the fly every time. Bill broke off eight trout and thought it was his tippet material or knots, but the knot was the triple Surgeon's and Uni, and we checked the tippet strength. It was mostly a matter of striking too hard and quick - like you do when you get those surprise takes after a while with no action. But several of mine weren't hard strikes at all, and I was using 8lb tippet with good knots - so it was really frustrating.

Obviously a hard strike is going to smash a tippet, but it's not the whole story. Sometimes the fish takes the fly as it's moving fast, which they often do during a cicada fall. The fish are covering ground fast in the hunt for flies on the water, and sometimes I feel they are competing with other fish - which I think is a main cause for the familiar 'slashing' take in a cicada fall. When the fish is taking on the run like that, you often have a straight line to the fly and even the inertia and friction of the line on the water is enough to pop even a strong tippet. I don't really know how to combat this thing - maybe keeping more slack in the line would help, and making an effort not to strike at all of course. Bill and I tried that and it worked but didn't solve it completely.

Most times it's the angler, for sure, but I've also gone from breaking fish off to solid hookups without any conscious change of technique by me, so sometimes it's how the fish is taking the fly. A few broken tippets is acceptable, but eight or ten in a day is rubbish. What's your take on this problem?


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