Here's a question that's clearly situation specific, so let me define the setting. It's posed in the context of fishing for trout (browns, bows and brookies) in the 8-15" range, small freestone streams, rods of 8.0' of less and 4 wt. lines or lower.
In this type of setting, how do you prefer to land a fish; getting them on the reel or hand stripping the line in?
My preference is to hand strip the line. I find that I get a much better feel for what the fish is actually doing when I play them that way. I leave the reel drag on a minimal setting; just enough to keep the momentum of the reel from spitting out line when casting. Anyone else have the same (or different) experience?
I would hand strip the line also but I do not fish for trout. I really ever use the reel unless I am fishing for larger game. Even when I am bass fishing I hand strip the line. I did once on a pike too, but that was a mistake.
I've often heard the Mantra, "Get the fish on the reel as quick as you can"
from people who are guides and so called experts. Why?
I agree with you guys. I get a much better feel for what the fish is doing by keeping my left hand on the line and stripping in the line.
Just my 2 cents.
I don't subscribe to the idea that the reel is just there to hold the line.
I think that you will find that most people will hand strip line in that situation. With dinky trout it works fine. The problem I have is if a beginner lands fish this way they never learn how to clear and play the fish from the reel. For big Trout, Steelhead, Salmon or salt water I think the fish should be played from the reel. I guess if someone was going to fish dinky trout for the rest of their lines, they could strip land the fish with no problem. I think most fly fishers hope that some day they will hook a big fish. I think they should be prepared to land that first big fish and know how to play it from the reel.
If you ever go salt water fishing with a guide the first thing he will do is teach you how to clear the reel with out getting the line tangled or caught on something. Playing fish from the reel is a conditioned reflex and you need to practice handling the line, getting it on the reel and playing the fish from the reel. If you always strip land your fish you never develop this technique.
I will always remember my first Steelhead. I was fishing a big pool but of course the fish decided to run down stream to the next pool. I had been strip landing the fish and had a bunch of line that I had dropped on the rocks. I had stepped on the line a couple of times and somehow got my leg through a loop. So now I am trying to move down stream with the line dragging behind me and a loop around my upper leg. Half way to the next pool the line snagged on a log that was now up stream from me and the fish. I got all the slack line fed out up to the log and down to the fish till I came to the loop around my leg, which I couldn't clear because the line was tightening. All I could do was watch the line tighten and the fish was gone. In the heat of the battle I never thought about going back to the log. That was the last time I tried to strip land a big fish.
So, for us newbies, could someone explain how to go about getting that pile of line, be it from around your feet or in a float tube striping apron, back on to the reel. Everytime I have tried to get the loose line back on my reel, the fish has managed to slip my hook even though I'm doing my best to keep constant tension on the line. I am using flies with the barb crimped.
For trout that small I would hand strip them in except if I was fishing fast water then I would land them on the reel. Im with Frank on the reel isnt there to just hold line philosphy. One of my friends just gave some advice the other day, "Fight every fish the same". I dont, I do alot of different fishing from small creeks to big lakes and rivers. If Im fighting a little trout I usually pull it in snap a pic if its pretty and release fast, while a big trout I immediately get him on the reel and start trying to manipulate where I want his head and if he gets into current and runs I'm usually running up and down the river with him, lol. When you fight all fish the same way, rod position, on the reel, ect you build muscle memory and it becomes natural to you... you dont panic and let the adrenele cause you to make a stupid mistake (I've made lots).
FlyDog- a couple things about getting a fish on the reel, how I do it (not necessarily the right way). First only have as much line out as you are going to use... when I first taught myself to fly fish I had a ton of line at my feet even after the cast, after a few big fish I quickly learned this was not a good thing. Get the fish on the reel as fast as possible, dont just give him the slack you want to maintain control over him at all times... use a reel you can palm and spin it while hand lining the fish, you should be able to suck up the line like spinning a merry-go round relatively fast... only stop if you need to focus on the fish for a split second. (tail walk, jump, run, whatever) Once you have the fish on the reel, i prefer to turn the rod parrallel to the ground turning the fish, if he runs i point the rod tip at him letting the drag rip, once his run is over I go back to the way I was fighting him... the direction I point the rod is dependent on situation. Good luck hope this helps.
I think that in a float tube or especially a pontoon boat it is beneficial to play the fish from the reel. If you strip land the fish the first thing that will happen is the line gets tangled on a oar, or something on my vest. If there is anything to get tangled with the slack line will always find it.
Here is a way I control a fish when fresh water fishing. Most of the time I have the line trapped between my first finger and the rod grip. If I am stripping the line I usually pull it over the first finger so that at any time I can clamp the line to the rod handle if I get a strike. If for some reason there is slack and I don't have it over that first finger I get it there quickly. So I have the fish on with the line over my first finger and I can apply tension to the line as it is pulled out by the fish. You can apply pressure by squeezing the line between the first and second finger or against the rod handle. you don't want to clamp it tight, just keep tension on the fish. I now take my line hand and grasp the line coming from the reel and place it over my little finger on the rod hand. So my rod hand first finger is controlling tension on the line going to the fish. The little finger on the rod hand is applying pressure on the line going to the reel. Now you can fight the fish and wind up the slack line with you line hand and the line will go on under tension from the pinkie.
Now if you are fishing for fish that really run and If you are not careful the stripped in line can pile up at the first guide. This can also happen when shooting line and the same technique can be used. This is almost a guarantee if you are holding coils in you line hand and drop them all at once.
Here is what I do in this case. Fish on and the line is under my first finger and the rod grip. I drop my line hand down to my side with the line in the hand. As I lower my hand I form a circle with my line hand thumb and first finger with the line trapped in the circle. I release the line under my rod hand first finger so the line is feeding from the circle I formed with my line hand thumb and first finger. I change my grip so the rod is against the bottom of my rod hand wrist/forearm. This keeps slack line from wrapping around the handle of the fly rod. The finger circle is larger than the shooting guide and the line feeding through goes directly to the shooting guide. This can happen in an instant and the slack will be gone in a flash so you don't have to worry about keeping tension on the line except for the tension from going through the thumb finger circle. You have to be careful to release the thumb finger circle just before the line slack is all gone.
I don't know how others do it but these two methods have worked for me. I have not fished for Bonefish and I might have to change something for those speedsters. Lets hear how some of you get a fish on the reel.
Did I miss something. Wasn't the original post situation specific dealing with fish 8-15 inches?
If those of you who are saying get the fish on the reel as soon as possible, mean under any situation that's fine, it's your style and a good one no doubt.
For me small trout in that size range don't need to be put on the reel right away. And, at least here where I fish, I rarely have enough line out to worry about it getting tangled around my feet, rarely over 10 yards.
I feel a much closer, personal connection to the fish when I can feel him doing his thing, while I'm doing mine trying to coax him to the net.
I can see this is going to take some practice. Basically I think I'm using the methods described, just not quite getting the desired results as yet.
I do tend to end up with quite a pile of line in the stripping apron in the float tube as I seem to have my best results with a lot of line out.
With fish on and line trapped between first 2 fingers and grip, I start spinning the reel to pick up loose line while keeping a constant tension on the line. It seems at this time the fish manage to shake the hook and the tension on the line vanishes as I'm still trying to get line back on my reel.
Most of the fish I catch are in that 10 to 14 in. range and just stripping them in is no big deal but there was that 18" brown that took me by surprise and it was more like a game of "tug of war" than a text book retrive. I did get him in, although not very pretty, gave him a big kiss and sent him on his way. To date that was my PB.
Thanks for the insight guys,