Originally Posted by spinsheet
That was another question that I had! When do you reel in a fish and when do you just pull in the stripped line? I guess it's all a matter of the size of the fish and personal preference?
Although you have received plenty of info in all these replies I'll take time to add some more to the mix.
Very seldom do I just pull in the fly line. Maybe it's a manifestation of "I have a reel, I should use it" but in fact simply pulling in line to land a fish becomes a matter of how much line is in question. Another thing to consider before creating a mass of fly line in loops and twists at your feet or drifting in the current are, how big is the fish. When you are in the water and your line is drifting about you or downstream a fish can quickly swim under the floating line and depending on what happens next create a problem that will make the act of 'catching it' less than a graceful maneuver. Often times when there is an excessive amount of confusion when trying to handle a flopping slippery fish while often standing or wading on or in slippery or cluttered surfaces results in the fish becoming free of the hook.
One other thing I have noticed; in water that is carrying silt or those stained with tannin from vegetation my fly line gets somewhat tacky when allowed to float in coils on such water it forms what appear to be knots & tangles. When I try to re-cast these little snarls need to be undone so that the line will travel back out the line guides. If for instance that line were pulled back toward the guides swiftly by a fish making that final run for freedom it can result in a snapped leader tippet.
As you become more accustomed to using your rod & reel it would behoove you to also acquire the habit or practice of playing fish from the reel rather than simply hauling in line. Fly fishing can become an art, it can be a graceful and calm act even when playing very active fish. Reels today with their drag systems are about control and that control will help you to have smooth landings regardless of the size of your fish.