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.

Get Prepared!



Not from NZ but from Old Europe


I see it all the time. I mean being ill-prepared for your upcoming trip abroad, specially regarding the proper casting technique to match the challenge ahead. And I have been guilty of it more times than I would like to admit. Frustration —highly aggravated by a depleted bank account— awaits ahead.

So train your casting regularly, starting way before the trip of your dreams begins. Mine is less than a month away. To New Zealand. Probably one of the trips of my lifetime, so I am training as much as I can, not as much as I’d like though.

Anyway it is very true that casting is just one of the array of skills that a successful angler must posses. So, apart from the casting practice, I thought it was time to reread my own notes about some common mistakes and pitfalls, in order to keep them in my subconscious mind when on the water… then adding some more that have been coming to my head after the season was over. Here they are:

  • Check your surroundings, specially up and behind you before starting to cast. Trees don’t need more decoration, they are beautiful as such.
  • Oval casts are great for heavy nymphs… but also for casting any kind of fly in confined spaces. They help in keeping your fly box well stuffed: it is always better to snag a branch at head height than five meters above you.
  • Take fly drag as a given, and act accordingly. Always.
  • Having that point above in mind, don’t expect to fix with your line already on the water what you didn’t devise while it still was in the air.
  • The ever shortening tippet: every change of fly changes the drifting characteristics of your leader. Take it into account as well when thinking of drag. And don’t be lazy.
  • Learn to discern hidden drag. Many times the difference between a bad and a good drift is really minute.
  •  Change position, casting tactics or both before changing fly.
  • When in doubt pull, it could be a fish, even The Fish. This is pretty evident with nymphs and streamers (I keep some painful memories of that), but even the disappearance of that dry fly, apparently sucked in by a small swirl, could be the telltale of a different story.

The Never Learning Story


Watch your backcast when training. A little bit of wading, heavy nymphs, long leaders, thin tippets, moderately or plainly long casts… on their own or combined, are a recipe for backcasts disasters

A new season is over and, again, it comes the time to reflect on successes… but mainly on mistakes. It isn’t about being prone to self-flagellation but about not succumbing to the same pitfalls next year.

So consider the following as a variation on the same theme started one year ago, and the list goes on like this:

14.  When nymphing always check for things above you. Overhanging structure that doesn’t pose any problem to casting dries could be deadly for weighted flies. Inertia they call it.

15. Check regularly your tippet for nicks or knots. In fact check the thicker parts of the leader as well: at times we have breakages in the 5X instead of the 7X further down. And I have a very very recent memory of that. Lazyness doesn’t pay off. 😞

16. Don’t be lazy in changing leader/tippet if conditions ask for it. Many times turning a bad drift into a good one is about tweaking your setup. Lack of motivation after a long period of slow fishing leads to lazyness, and the latter will never improve motivation. Paraphrasing Picasso: When inspiration comes I prefer it to find me working.

17. Moving to a new casting position with fly in hand and some line and leader hanging from the rod tip thinking of saving time isn’t a good idea. You will waste it instead. I should tattoo this one in my casting hand!

18. Learn how much you can pull before breaking your tippet. Afer a casting session on the lawn you can tie one of your fishing leaders to a branch, a park bench or any other “fish” you have available. Then pull using different rod angles. If you have a 4X tippet and pull with the rod butt upright be careful lest you break the rod tip. Never ending photo sessions surely kill fish, but some of them were already dead before coming to the net due to a never ending “fight”.

19. Watch your backcast when training. A little bit of wading, heavy nymphs, long leaders, thin tippets, moderately or plainly long casts… on their own or combined, are a recipe for backcasts disasters.

I don’t know about you but I will get back to this list frequently. As my good friend and mentor Prpa likes to tell me: You are young, you will learn. 😓😀

For a sequel go here.