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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Southeast Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,760

    Default Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    I've determined this is necessary....period. I began flyfishing when I was 15, but was only interested in bass. I actually avoided the trout stocked waters until they had been picked clean. We lived near Valley Creek from 2000-2006, and I began fishing every now and then for trout (on one of the toughest trout streams in the country!). When we moved to Bucks County, I caught a trout that was stocked during the winter, and decided to go for it. While I tied lots of small dry and wet patterns, I rarely used them. Wooly Buggers suited my tastes and needs better, and 3X tippet was my diameter of choice.

    I decided last year to fish Ridley Creek, and small flies were de rigueur on that stream. Those spools of 5X tippet finally saw the light of day, and the little flies worked great. I actually enjoy tying smaller patterns, so things were coming together nicely. The local lake and streams responded well to the smaller patterns, and I caught some really large warmwater species on little flies. I began using 6X tippet for the #18 and #20 Zebra Midge droppers I used on Ridley Creek, and elsewhere.

    The idea of playing a fish off the reel (is it on or off?) never occurred to me, but after loosing a nice rainbow yesterday, I'm a firm believer. I managed to make it to the Neshaminy Creek again this afternoon, and the BWO hatch was on fire! Trout were popping everywhere, and I tied on a #18 BWO parachute with 6X tippet. I quickly hooked a nice brown, and got him right on the reel. I didn't make any real runs, and was netted quickly. The next brown made lots of runs, but I remained patient. When he was about 3 inches from the net, the hook popped out. Oh well....I tried.

    After catching a few smallmouth on the same #18 BWO, I spotted a nice looking trout taking flies close to the end of some riffles. This trout was hitting the surface hard, and I began casting to him at around 5:30. He didn't seem to have the slightest interest in my fly, and took the naturals while ignoring mine. I moved back and forth to that spot a few times, and then he finally took my fly at 6:30. He hit that fly hard, and ran. I didn't need to get the line on the spool, as he took it all right out of my hand! He made a few runs to the opposite bank, and I palmed the spool to keep him from going too far. I finally tightened the drag a bit on my Ross Rhythm, and he made several more screaming runs. There's no doubt that my tippet would have broken if I had tried to yank the line in by hand, and I wasn't sure that I'd be able to land this freight train even on the reel. I was finally relieved to see the fish in the net, and snapped off a quick pic.


    Don't be fooled by the apparent size: I have large hands, and that trout was a ferocious 12 inch (measured) monster. After snapping the pic, I rested the fish for a minutes, and then he swam off like a torpedo. For the longest time, I firmly believed that the guys at the local fly shop were trying to over-sell me on high-end reels, and the importance of a smooth drag. While I used 4X and larger tippet, the reel was just a line holder. With fine tippet, small flies, and large fish, the fine reels I bought are earning their keep. Palming is an option, but I'd rather have a consistenly smooth drag.

    P.S. There is a blood spot near the corner of the trout's mouth, but it wasn't bleeding. That is my BWO next to it, but I don't know if that even caused the
    spot....???
    Last edited by FrankB2; 05-13-2010 at 10:16 AM. Reason: Typo: #10 BWO Should've Been #18

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Posts
    15,376
    Blog Entries
    111

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Hi Frank,

    Over the years I made it first order of business to get my fish on the spool. I used CFO pawl and Hardy reels for trout with tippet down to 7 & 8X and experienced little trouble. Both these reels offer adjustable tension albeit light tension. For larger fish on heavier leaders palming or the lost art of fingering (Hardy Lightweights) was often put into play. When you really want to land fish nothing beats a good reel that will offer control choices.

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Southeast Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,760

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Hi Ard!
    I can't remember when I last palmed a reel before today, but I can see it working (it worked today). My reel's drag was adjusted just enough that a good pull wouldn't cause an over-run. That wasn't even close to where it had to be in order to slow that fish. After tightening the drag, I was free to give all of my attention to turning the fish away from the weeds, and into the net (several times ). Palming would have made that much more difficult, but you know how I feel about classic rods, reels, and techniques.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    4,019

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Congrats on a nice fish.

    I agree with you guys, it's great to have a reel with a smooth drag. I usually let the fish decide if it's "reel worthy" --- With some small fish I'll fight them by stripping in line-- but if it snaps up all the spare line on a run like yours did, and it's on the reel, then definitely fight it from the reel.
    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Can you call and tell that to my wife Frank?

    Good point, great story and nice fish!
    "I knew a tier once. One time he was holding a lump of cat hair he found on his couch, sort of twirling it about his fingers, tugging at it. I asked, what in the hell are you doing man? He looked startled, ashamed. But I knew what he was thinking. right then and there I decided to just buy my fly's thankyouverymuch." ~ cwg

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Missouri City (near Houston), Texas
    Posts
    1,262

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankB2 View Post
    . . . There is a blood spot near the corner of the trout's mouth, but it wasn't bleeding. That is my BWO next to it, but I don't know if that even caused the spot....???
    Oh, Frank, you brute!

    P.S. Nice fish. I'm a big believer in fishing off the reel with very light drag set, palming further if necessary. The tailwaters I fish (not often enough!) usually require 5-7x tippit on #24-28 flies, yet the trout range from 18-24" with large girths.
    On the whole, I'd rather be in Wyoming . . .
    Fly2:

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Truckee, CA.
    Posts
    2,131
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    FrankB2, It's great to have big hands!!!
    I've been tempted a few times to get a small net, for the same effect. Ha!
    We have a few fish that make the jump to light speed in heavy flows. Plan A for really big bows. Barely time to realize that a fish is on, then nearly into backing.
    There is a high probability that if my drag is even slightly tight, the tippet parts. (2-3x) On a run like this, with the reel set semi tight the tendency to have the rod tip pulled down to a horizontal position is great. Then as a friend says, "You have a $700. shock absorber, and you are using $5.00 worth."
    So my high tech drag is just lightly set, like Fly2 said.
    Palm a little, to get the fire drill under control, then maybe tighten the drag.
    The problem, is another big run after you tighten up. (Like at the net.)
    After going to the trouble to hook'em, I hate breaking them off from too tight a setting.
    One reason I like my Galvin, is the many usable settings on the drag.
    Everything from larger steelies, to sunny's.

    Jim
    Last edited by Bigfly; 05-12-2010 at 12:12 PM.
    Ultimately, it's not catching fish that satisfies, but knowing how.

    Bigfly

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Southeast Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,760

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Hi Guys,
    I should have mentioned that the Ross Evo/Rhythm drag has a zillion click
    adjustments, and holds a setting forever. If I had been using one of my older
    reels, making a mid-run adjustment might not have had a happy ending.

    I bought several Orvis BBS reels a few years ago, and couldn't wait to hear
    that clicker ZZZZING. I adjusted the drag nut so that they had a very light setting, and waiting for that wonderful sound. Unfortunately, nothing I caught on those reels ran....ever. I was fishing for early
    spring bluegills last year, and decided to use my one of the Orvis reels. A 22"
    channel cat took my Green Weenie, and he ran from one side of the stream to
    the other....ZING-O-Rama!!!! I decided that I didn't like the BBS
    reels one day, and sold them all. Impulse buyer/seller.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    quiet corner, ct
    Posts
    8,529

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Lee Wulff landed the first fly rod marlin on a Young's click drag reel
    skill trumps technology every time
    .... just sayin'

    see my siggi below
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Playing Fish on the Reel with Light Tippet

    Quote Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
    Lee Wulff landed the first fly rod marlin on a Young's click drag reel
    skill trumps technology every time
    .... just sayin'
    Reckon I need a reel with the best drag money can buy in that case.
    "I knew a tier once. One time he was holding a lump of cat hair he found on his couch, sort of twirling it about his fingers, tugging at it. I asked, what in the hell are you doing man? He looked startled, ashamed. But I knew what he was thinking. right then and there I decided to just buy my fly's thankyouverymuch." ~ cwg

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