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  1. #1
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    Default Playing fish - some observations

    A question arose on our sister UK forum about playing a fish single handed v double handed which raised some useful issues:

    There are some practical and therefore measurable issues at work.

    Firstly consider this question:

    Which can put more pressure on the fish during the fight?

    a. A rod bent at 45 degrees (the normal fighting position)

    or

    b. A rod pointing directly at the fish.

    ____

    The answer is b of course - as the reel / drag takes over.

    Which means that the closer the rod tip moves toward b the more power that can be applied. This is sort of counter intuitive isn’t it!

    I did a simple experiment. I used a 15ft rod & fly line connected to a spring balance some 15 yards away.

    At a rod angle of 45% I could 'muscle' the spring balance to [only] about 1.5lb of pressure. (that in itself may come as a surprise to a few)

    As I lowered the rod tip I could get up to 3lb of pressure as the reel was taking more of the strain. I didn’t really push this test to its limits but kept it within fish fighting bounds (rod bent a bit).

    Then I tried a single handed 10ft rod #8.

    At a rod angle of 45 degrees I could 'muscle' the spring balance to about 1lb of pressure. (a third less).

    However, as I lowered the rod tip I could get up to 3lb of pressure as the reel was taking more of the strain.

    So there you have it. At 45 degrees the 15ft applied more pressure than the 10fter. Lower the rod tip and the rod advantage is lost.

    Point the rod at the fish and play off the drag if you want the ultimate power!

    Here is a graphical representaion of what I found:



    It would be interesting to compare a 15ft #10 with a 9ft #10 too!

    Perhaps we should also say "give it some reel" rather than "give it some butt"!

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    Edit: See below.
    Last edited by diamond rush; 04-12-2013 at 10:17 AM.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    Thanks for the data!

    Looks to be empirical enough to be crossed over to just about anything within reason.

    Have learned to use the tip close to the water, almost pointing at the fish, guides toward the fish and just enough angle to get tip of the rod to act a shock absorber and rely on the reel / forefinger pressure. This seem to minimize break offs on my 7 1/2' #3 with light tippets.

    With what you have just shown, I think it is time to experiment more.
    I'm currently out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message, and if you would like to reach me by phone, please hang up now.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    When you're fighting a big fish, you need to keep the fish "off balanced".
    You do this by sweeping the rod to one side or the other and forcing the fish to go in a different direction from where it wants to go. You can not do that with a straight line.
    You may get more pressure by straight lining, but that's not going to help you land a fish any better.
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    I was once told to "keep the fish swimming" - never letting it rest - and sweeping the rod side to side may certainly do this.

    The point being made really is that the natural instinct to apply more power is to raise the rod tip and bend the rod more - it seems however that this may be reducing the strain on the fish but increasing it on the angler!

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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    I don't see how any of this is counter-intuitive. The rod is essentially a spring and it's used to cushion the power the applied to the line. That's why we don't hand line and use a rod instead. That's why a soft rod (or tip) is a tippet saver.

  9. #7
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    Thinking about this one some more: It doesn't matter what the angle on the rod is.

    Imagine for a minute if you had tied the spring scale to a block of wood. No matter how you held the rod, if you applied the same force (the limit imposed by the drag), the block of wood would move at the same rate. This is because all forces are equally opposed no matter how the rod is held. And tension is constant throughout the system.

    In your experiment, you had two springs in the system. The flex of the rod and the spring scale. By increasing the angle of the rod, you were increasing the apparent spring constant of the rod flex. Both springs are acting on the end-point in relation to their respective spring constants. What your experiment was actually showing you was the relative ratio of spring constants for different rod angles, not the amount of force applied at the endpoint of the system. Tension is always equal at all points on a line.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    Quote Originally Posted by mikel View Post
    I don't see how any of this is counter-intuitive. The rod is essentially a spring and it's used to cushion the power the applied to the line. That's why we don't hand line and use a rod instead. That's why a soft rod (or tip) is a tippet saver.
    Exactly.

    Look, even this guy knows how to use the rod.
    I am highly qualified to comment in this forum after receiving a Specialized High Intensive Training (S.H.I.T) at the Olde Schitt Institute of Technology (O.S.H.I.T).

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    I love the experiment but I also don't see why it's counter-intuitive. I've anecdotally confirmed the results because I snap fish off quite quickly when the angle between the rod and line approaches 180 degrees . My observation of the effect of rod/line angle on snags seems to agree with these results as well .

    What's interesting to me is your perspective from the point of view of "muscling" fish during a fight; I presume to try to end it as quickly as possible. I look at the results from the converse, which mike! hinted at, which is managing the angle so that the tension is at a minimum. I have to do this when I'm fighting a 3 lb fish on 5x or smaller leader/tippet. The sweeping of the rod through different planes that others have mentioned becomes the best way to tire the fish out quickly while protecting the line.

  12. #10
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    Default Re: Playing fish - some observations

    Quote Originally Posted by dwtalso View Post
    I love the experiment but I also don't see why it's counter-intuitive.
    Its counter-intuitive because it's objectively false.

    Tension is always uniform throughout a line. Which means any force you put in on the reel side gets felt on the fish side, regardless of the path that line takes.

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