A friend of mine hooked into a very big fish in a little creek last year using a 3 wt.. He played it forever but could never get enough control of it to where it could be netted. Giving the fish so much time is like letting Peyton Manning sit back in the pocket too long. Sooner or later you are going to lose. That's what happened, the fish threw the hook.
Thanks everyone, I love to hear what people have to say about this. It sounds like most people agree that the 3wt is a little light for big trout. I was just wondering because a lot of the people and guides that I talk to are fishing 3wts on our spring creeks. I was just wondering if they knew something I didn't.
For a 3wt med action rod, my guess is that 15" is on the upper end of what it could comfortably handle. Do you agree?
I use a 7'9" 3wt for local stocked lakes and smaller creeks when chasing bows, dollies and grayling. I have lost a lot of bigger fish, no doubt. I have also managed to land some impressive specimens. A 40in pike, 26in dolly varden and a bunch of +20in 'bows.
All of those fish are among my favorite memories. It is about the challenge of fishing flies. I make sure I have as much backing as I can hold and have the patience of fighting the fish and just enjoy the moment. That is what fishing is about.
I've caught 16" trout that barely put up any kind of fight, and other 16" trout that behaved like pit bulls. I caught a 16" brown last March on a 4wt, and he went deep in a narrow stream. The 4wt had a decent butt section, but this guy was determined not to come up! I was using a Green Weenie as the point fly on 4X tippet, but had a #20 Zebra Midge tied off the back with 6X. I didn't know which fly the trout had taken, and was afraid to put too much pressure on at first. Once I saw that he had taken the Green Weenie, I was able to lay into the fight more, and land a really nice trout. I know a guy that fishes for trout in the same stream with a 6wt rod, saying that it's too difficult to turn a trout with anything less. He's young, and catches a LOT of trout with that rod.....
It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I cast my Caddis out and it sat there for a second. Then you could see swirls heading towards it, then BAM! Fish on! 6X tippet so, I let it run, then I would reel, and back and forth. I tried ever so slightly to muscle and PING! It was gone...what a rush, but I have never done that again....or at least with a 3 wt.
I have seen that charge too..in a river setting though.The most epic were once at Lee's Ferry and once on the "Juan"..what a rush! I wasn't using a 3wt though, nice 6wt with plenty of collateral to put the Fear of DOK in all things finned
Light rods and light lines do make for amazing battles between man and beast.
I'm all about the tug..Fished correctly and Revived responsibly there is no end to what can be done with light tackle..the other issue here is equipment damage..yea that's not fun to have your outing ruined by a busted rod.
Are we on a river running 7,000 cfs, a river running 200 cfs, a creek running 15 cfs, a lake or reservoir, from the bank or from my tube, with snags and rocks, with a smooth sandy bottom, with WILD FISH or hatchery fish....and who know how many other variables?
Can I land a fish faster with a 5 wt with 6x or a 3 wt with 6x? Is there really a significant difference in time with the same tippet strength? As long as the tippet will break before my rod and as long as I'm willing to put a bend in that rod and know how to pressure a fish and move him to the net...well, I just don't get that argument...
I was on the Elk River in WVa in October and landed 18 - 26" trout on my 2 wt in under a minute. It was like they were on prozac. In November an 18" wild bow on the Sacramento in Redding ran me all over the river on my 9.5 ft 5 wt....and the next day a 25" hatchery steelhead came to the net quickly and easily on the same rod.
I fish the set up that affords me the most sport and challenge to land the fish safely and quickly. If I blow it and hook up with something that really cannot be pressured with the rod in hand, I just point the rod at the fish and say good bye. sometimes the fish win.
I have fished with guys who were geared up (a 6 wt to my 3) but who aren't willing to bend their rod.....just let the fish play himself til he bellies up and floats over, completely beyond the point of being released successfully. They could have been fishing a 10 wt and the results would be the same...
If you are not capable or willing to pressure the fish with lighter gear, then GEAR UP. If you ARE, and are willing to promptly break off a fish you can't handle, then fish with what makes you happy, as long as you care for the fish properly.
I have caught some big fish on a 5 weight rod however I used tippet that was up to the task. Having done my time on spring creeks I was faced with similar problems, big fish and how to and I learned to catch fish using streamers. Seldom did I use a leader under 8 pound and my average fish was 14". Fourteen inch may not sound big but I am presenting an average here, there were bigger fish and there were smaller fish but the usual was over a foot in length.
Could I have done this using a 3 weight and 7X tippet? Possibly but with all the additional time it would have taken to land all of the fish I would still be in Pennsylvania trying to get a nice brown trout to shore. Those people who regularly target two foot fish on 3 weight rigs would be on the same page as someone hunting Moose with a 22. No doubt it can be done but it is going to be hard on the Moose. I am a person who takes more pride in telling you how quickly and efficiently I land a fish than how long the fight lasted. This sometimes results in fish coming loose from my hooks as I direct them to where I want them but I am alright with that. I land more than I loose.
Wet flies on heavy leaders when presented carefully are my best method for catching trout, steelhead, and salmon. Its all about the leader.................
Yup. I was fishing for smallmouth and trout this past May, and used my was using my 8 1/2' 4wt. As soon as I hit the bank, I could see smallmouth chasing baitfish through the shallows: a real frenzy! I snipped off the little BWO I had tied on, and quickly attached a Black Nose Dace to a 3X leader. KABOOM! A healthy, honest 16" smallmouth nailed the streamer and ran downstream. While there was a heck of a bend in the rod, I knew that my 3X leader gave me the strength needed to horse him back upstream, and into the net. This fish jumped quite a bit, and I managed to get one of them on video. I had the drag set for the #18 BWO and 6X tippet, and you can see the bird's nest that the smallmouth's first run put on my spool :
Like Ard, I don't see the point in using a light rod where you know the fish will be large. I used to use ultralight spinning gear 25-30 years ago, but that was more of a novelty. A 4wt is plenty light for delicate presentations, and if you want to feel a fish fight, go for bluegill or bigger fish on a bigger rod. Actually, I enjoy sunfish on a 4wt. I would like to try an 8' 2wt for bluegill, however. BTW, just because a fish seems revived and swims away, that's not a guarantee that it will live. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has a report on mortality rates, and it can take a few hours for a fish to die from a lengthy fight.
I have to agree with Ard's comments about using the right tool for the job. A 3wt's only attribute is making a small fish seem bigger, and that's fine if you're fishing for small fish. Ard, you're so wise...
I caught this little guy on my 4wt (#18 BWO on 6X tippet), and it was plenty rewarding:
I was sight-fishing for this little natives, but tie on larger flies and heavier leader for its MUCH bigger brethren holding nearby.
as mentioned before, it's not the rod you have to be worried about when fishing for large spooky trout, it's your tippet. I've seen folks throwing tiny flies to trout using 6x tippet on their 5 or 6wt, for me, I can land large trout just as fast on my 3wt using 6x tippet than I can on my 5wt using 6x tippet. There are exceptions, but if I feel that I'm unable to turn a large fish with the 3 (or with the 5 for that matter), I'll point the rod straight at the fish and break them off (it hasn't happened very often, but it has happened). For me it's definitely much more fun on the 3wt. The limiting factor more often than not, isn't the trout, it's the wind.
now, if we're talking about targeting large smallmouth or carp, the 3wt stays home and out comes the 6 & 7wts...but again, it usually has more to do with the wind (although I wouldn't really want to try to turn a carp on my 3wt).
I remember bringing my three weight g loomis stream dance and my dad brought the 3wt orvis helios on a cutthroat stream up here in central alberta. Found a gigantic deep pool where we could see the cutts and bulls on the bottom finning and picking up nymphs but would not touch a dry. I tied on a size 2/0 hot pink cutt killer double bunny and 10lb tippet. It was the worst casting ever but man those fish chased that thing. Some cutties being close to 20" the bullies being close to 25" Took me 2 minutes land most fish because the fight was planned out.
Your right about fighting fish in moving water compare to still water. I wouldnt even think to bring the 3wt out on the bow river cause there is too much current, bigger fish, longer casting plus its a huge river.
Its a tricky process, and my three weights to feel more like 4s but if you're ahead of the game and can plan the fight in small enough water you shouldnt have to worry!