When you’re out fishing and are lucky enough to hook a fish, do you reel or strip the line as you play the fish?
There’s no right our wrong answer. Someone may give you a strong opinion, but stick to your guns and pick a strategy which works for you. That’s the beauty of fly fishing. There aren’t a lot of rules.
Sure there are times when one method is better than the other. Like when you hook up on a nice fish and it takes off like a race horse on it’s first run, then does an about face and comes screamin’ back at you! All the while you are struggling to keep tension on the fish. The only chance you have at keeping the line tight is to strip as fast as you can. Been there! In fact, it happened yesterday. I held my breath and I stripped as fast as I could to remove all the slack in the line…I was lucky.
Generally I try to play ALL fish from the reel, but especially bigger fish…rainbows over 14″, bull trout, and steelhead. I always feel some relief when all the excess line is finally on the reel. I can tell you stories where I’ve had too much line at my feet and it always comes back to haunt me. It usually gets caught on something…the brush, my net, a wading staff, my reel, the rod butt, I step on it, the boat anchor…you get the picture.
I always feel better when the fish in on the reel. That way, if the fish runs again I have a smooth drag to help me fight the fish. Otherwise, all the line I’ve stripped in may or may not smoothly go out through the guides. Oh ya, ever burned your fingers from the line as the fish takes off again? That’s another problem to consider. For me, stripping line always feels like it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
You have many choices for reels these days. And if I were on the market for a new reel, I’d pick one with a large arbor, like my Galvan Torgue T-5. That way, each revolution retrieves about 2 times more line than the older reels that only were available in standard or small arbor.
When you settle on a method that’s best for you, watching somebody do it the opposite way will drive you crazy, but that’s okay because it’s their fly fishing not yours. Remember that.
Now, go fish!
Hook a lot of fish and find what method works best for you.
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