Pull Hard Whenever You Can!


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.

Resist Temptation!



I am a gear junkie. I mean gear in general, not just fly fishing paraphernalia. The periodical urge of getting a new rod isn’t uncommon, for that reason I quitted browsing catalogs compulsively long ago. But that drive is rather manageable now, after all I already have a lot of sticks, and I am old enough to know that any new addition to that department won’t make me any better at catching fish, nor significantly improve my casting skills. For the price of any top of the range rod, you can get a good number of casting classes that will have a real effect in your abilities.

But photo gear… That seems to ring a different bell inside, and the fact that I own a number of cameras and lenses collected along the last twenty-odd years doesn’t seem to ease that inner itch.

Maybe the explanation for the different strength between those two Visa-burning tendencies is purely rational: rod are just plastic tubes and the differences among them aren’t as radical as we like to think. On the other hand photo camera technology is advancing apparently every month.
Just a bad excuse, I know; a new camera -and the Sony a7S is being particularly tempting in the latest months- as it happens with a new rod, won’t make me any better in the picture making pursuit.

When temptation arises I remind myself of an article about camera/lens choosing I read years ago. One statement by its author remained fixed in my mind:
Before buying new gear you should answer honestly to this simple question: will the limitations I find in my pictures be solved by any of the features of my dreamed camera? Or are those limitations due to lack of technique or artistic prowess?
If you are sincere to yourself you’ll find that most of the time it is the latter, not the first.

So to ease the itch I have found specially useful to browse hard drives and unearth some picture that pleases me. It happens that the following photo is my favourite regarding action shots. And it also happens that it was taken with my first underwater camera -a feature that, at the time, was relatively new in the market- a small point-and-shoot of rather bad image quality.


This shows me, again, that to shoot something appealing you don’t need any particularly expensive or big equipment, just awareness, a good knowledge of how your tool works, and being quick in recognizing and grasping fleeting opportunities. Pure luck doesn’t do any harm either.

So no, Santa, I don’t want that Sage X nor that Sony a7s! Yet!


A whole day devoted to the big ones. Failure: some missed takes and a couple of them felt for just a second; it seems that when they close their mouth it is already late.I can’t blame the river spirits, it was entirely my fault.
Best one was 1 Kg; he only responded to perfect drift after perfect drift after perfect drift of a #24 olive dun. With so many natural insects going down the current, why should it be interested in my fly?

Shot with a GoPro and edited on the fly with PS Express for iPad. It isn’t tinted or over saturated, as you can check by the (more or less) natural color of the fingertips. Beauty.