Fighting fish - part 2
So apart from avoiding the pitfalls of tying yourself and the flyline into knots there are a few other tricks.
Trout, in particular, like to jump around when hooked. It makes the fight that little bit more exciting. Whenever a fish jumps lean the rod over to the side at 90 degrees. Do not keep the line under tension. If you do one of two things can happen, neither of which are good news; the leader could break or the hook-hold could pull out. What we don't do is to give the fish slack line by pointing the rod tip at the fish, for when the fish takes out the slack again, the direct angle will pull the hook out.
As well as leaning the rod over to side with no tension, leaning the rod over under tension is very useful. We call this side strain.
Changing the angle of the pull on the fish often forces the fish to change direction. It can knock the fish off balance. I know many good anglers who actually hit the side strain to emphasise the effect. We want to land these fish as quickly as possible. It is inhumane to play a fish slowly for your pleasure. If you can't respect the quarry then you certainly shouldn't be fishing. If the fish is to be returned it is absolutely critical that the fish is landed quickly. A long drawn out fight will cause a built up of lactic acid which in turn can kill the fish. It is far better to bully a fish and lose.
Use side strain whenever you need to turn a fish. If the fish is running headlong into a snag: side strain. If the fish is thrashing around the surface: side stain. In fact throw the rod over at random intervals; it's always a good move.
Another useful trick is to give your rod-arm a bit of a rest during the fight, by holding the rod with your free hand about 2 feet above the handle. It's a question of levers.
When the fish does finally give up you will know, because it will tell you by lying on its side at the surface. Now is the time to be careful. More fish are lost here than any other time. Gently put the net in the water and slowly ease the fish over the net. Don't poke the net at the fish – this just pisses them off.
As soon as the fish is over the net lift the net upwards and clear, slacken the tension on the flyline and place your other hand at the rim of the net to offer more support. Once again it's all a question of levers.
If you don't have a net then you will have to bring the fish carefully to hand :-)