Pull Hard Whenever You Can!

Back home. River Ribnik

Catch and release practices are being subject to greater scrutiny lately. And rightly so, for releasing a fish doesn’t necessarily mean it will survive if the angler doesn’t take enough care. I wrote something on the subject not long ago:

But in this regard of “releasing alive” there is a point that is missing in both old and new guidelines: sometimes (too many times, judging from what I personally see) the fish destined to be released is, in practical terms, dead before the angler touches it. That old “keep the rod tip up!” we heard so many times in those first fishing days, has the ability of killing as many fish as the neglecting angler-photographer.

There is no problem in shooting some pics or videos of a fish, provided that you bring it to the net quickly. The key is in using the rod properly by varying its effective length. By keeping the rod tip up we exert the minimum force on the fish and the maximum on our wrist. Changing the angle between the rod butt and the imaginary line which connects our hand with the fish, modifies that relationship of forces. I see too many anglers that don’t understand this basic concept.

The following video shows a 2.5 kg brown trout that fell to a #18 nymph on a long 7X (0.10 mm) tippet. Not a suitable diameter, I know, but I didn’t expect that size of fish; had I seen it I’d have resorted to a thicker monofilament. However, by pulling hard whenever I could, I managed to get the trout in the net without any damage, although I was rather “underpinned”. And believe me, that brown fought like crazy.

My point? Taking pics in a sensible way isn’t at odds with proper catch and release practices. It is what happens first what matters the most. So pull hard whenever you can —that is, when the fish stops after a run— decreasing tension when it speeds up again.

6 comments on “Pull Hard Whenever You Can!

  1. tonyking74 says:

    Leave your fish in the water when possible, don’t let the body weight be supported by a hand below its body cavity, If you want it to look bigger use photoshop…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Herron says:

    All spot on mate. What you do before the fish is handled is very important. We hear more these days about how to handle the fish and less about how to shorten the fight.

    Over a couple of decades I have gradually been getting fish to hand sooner and sooner. In fact I recently bought my first net for land-based fishing, a Maclean like the one in your vid, after getting broken off too many times while leadering the fish for release. Green is good. :^)



    • Aitor says:

      In my experience a lot of anglers don’t know how to play fish properly. Still remember one guy last season who caught a 50+ grayling (a trophy) and took maybe fifteen minutes to net it. The fish was in control all the time. Then he went from mid river to the bank, with the fish in the air, and proceeded to a never ending shooting session. I am sure that that grayling didn’t survive. Very sad.

      Thanks man!


  3. Ben Rowell says:

    You make a good point, Aitor. I haven’t seen much written about how to play/fight a fish to increase its chance of survival after being released.
    I wrote a piece for a local newspaper a few weeks ago. Probably should have included a little about landing a fish quickly.


    • Aitor says:

      Hi Ben,

      Yes, I miss that part in your article. In fact I miss it in all the articles I have been reading on the subject. I think that the old “keep the rod tip high” has killed more fish than careless photo sessions.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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