Learning to fight hard - Week 4

Learning to fight hard - Week 4

Paul Arden | Monday, 17 August 2015

I've come to the realisation that if I want to do well here in the Malaysian jungle, then I have to learn to fight fish much harder. I think I've managed to solve my missing fish on the bloody strike phase after reducing the amount of foam in the popper. After missing two possibly 5KG plus (well you know how it is!) Snakehead last week and 3-4KG Snakehead and then finally a small 2KG Snakehead at the beginning of this week, I reduced the amount of foam used by 50%. On Tuesday I hooked a really big Snakehead, well into the teens of pounds. I can't guess how big because I've never landed a Snakehead close to this size - it was bigger than the boat! And after an exciting and explosive surface battle of immense proportions, which is a first for me with these fish, he took to going deep and I couldn't - or at least didn't - stop him. He or she snagged me and the leader parted like butter. Now in a fishery where just hooking up is hard, you don't want to start losing all your good fish.

So now we have two things. I must develop my quick accurate shots. Believe me, this is already my game, having put the time into this particular aspect, as well as being a distance caster. Quick shots and distance casting go hand in hand in my book. But even so, even being really fast on the draw, it's still not fast enough to be successful most of the time. But I think I know how to develop more speed - more speed than is possible - and I'm making small technique changes to this end - coupled with lots of lumi-line practise to reinforce it. Fighting fish hard I think, can only come from using too much force and breaking things!

Talking of which, I managed to break the butt section of my HT8 over the gunwales (great word "gunwales" - yes it's where I keep the cannons) whilst playing - and ultimately losing - my first really big Snakehead of this trip. But my leader breakages are coming from sharp snags, not an exploding of knots through fighting too hard. So I think I shall make this my challenge of the week, namely to break a leader whilst fighting a Giant Snakehead - and not just the wire, which doesn't really count. The weakest link in my line is the 30lb bite tippet to 40lb leader knot. I'm currently using a Slim Beauty, but I might go over to an Albright. I don't know what kilo pull this pops at, nor indeed if it is actually popping the front of the knot or, as is most likely, the snags are cutting the leader at this point. And finally I'm lengthening the length of my bite tippet, really big fish can often engulf the fly.

It's Tuesday night now. I plan to be back at Banding Island on Saturday night. I may be taking a friend's son fishing on Sunday, so I have four days to make it happen. The week starts now: from now on I give no line and pull these fish backwards!


I have to say that's it's really good to be fishing properly again. There have been times when, while even though fishing has always come first in life's scheme of things, it hasn't been my priority to fish ALL the time. I may have been sick! There doesn't seem to be time for anything else right now. I get up, I start fishing. I fish right through to dark. The only time I stop is either when heat stroke forces me to lay down or it's raining hard - in which case I pull the boat into some shade, or pull the cover over the boat, and... tie flies! This is what life is all about for me at the moment. Of course I have a beautiful crazy woman too, although she's only here every fourth week, I'm absolutely broke at the moment and growing a beard!! Life couldn't be better!!! OK I'm not catching the numbers of Snakehead and other species that I would like, but I'm learning a great deal - for example the playing fish much harder thing really is starting to pay off - and fly fishing for me is more about the learning.

Ah-ha! 3.4KG Toman! I knew I was onto something :))) What a fantastic week!!

Have an awesome week!!! This one is going to be full of big Toman!

Cheers, Paul

PS Toman = Snakehead in Malay-speak.