Viking Lars | Saturday, 11 June 2022

No matter for which fish and with which tackle you’re fishing, managing the fly line is necessary. How it’s done and how much line that needs handling differs a lot. Learning to manage the fly line can save a lot of aggravation. It can be very frustrating having the the line tangle in the grass or weeds, just as you’re making the first cast to a rising trout.

This week I’ve been fishing salmon in Norway. I primarily fish shooting heads on double handlers, which means handling varying amounts of shooting line. An important factor on a river is that the current will pull any loose line down stream. If you’re just making short casts, that doesn’t present a problem. A long shooting line washed downstream will greatly reduce your casting distance and of course, the line will invariably tangle in bushes or get caught under rocks. The latter can be a real problem, because it can nick the shooting line, creating weak spots.

So you need to manage the shooting line to prevent it from washing down stream, getting caught and, very important, prevent it from tangling when shooting the cast. Most quickly figure out to retrieve the shooting line and hold it in coils. No matter how you do it, tangles will occur, but there are a few tricks that reduce the amount of tangles.

First and foremost, when you retrieve the shooting line and grab the coils, decrease the size of each coil, so the second is shorter then the first, the third shorter than the second, etc. To avoid having to pay attention to the coils, I count. Once you have the casting distance you need, you’ll quickly find a rhythm that matches the length of each pull, so to speak. Five pulls, new coil, four pulls, new coil and so on. I make sure to pay attention to the overhang when making the last coil - I like about a foot of overhang on a shooting head.

Making the coils progressively smaller prevents the from tangling when it’s on the water and when leaving the water on the shoot. I add one more trick.

I hold the coils in my bottom hand, when fishing the double handed rod, not the top hand. This has two reasons. I want my top hand free to control the rod. If you have a long shooting line, the line will also often come in contact with the reel on the back stroke, because it’s hanging down (preventing tangles was the reason for winding right handed in the old days - it kept the reel handle on the opposite side of the rod). Holding the line with the bottom hand keeps it under the reel at all times. Further more, I drag the line under the reel. If you don’t do this, the line will pass beside the reel and often catch on the handle.

I hold the line coils with my middle finger, leaving the index finger free to control the rod.

There are other ways, of course. Figure-of-eighting with shorter amounts of line, using a line tray or a basket is great on still water and I use them all the time in the salt. But handling long lines on rivers, this is how I do it.

I have a short video I recorded on the phone, by the river. The sound is horrible and I’m writing this on the train, heading home. I’ll edit it on the phone and see if I can upload it to the Sexyloops YouTube channel, maybe via Paul. If not, then tomorrow when I’m home.

Have a great weekend!