Keeping Monster Trout on the Line

I’ve lost my share of big trout. There, I admitted it. I’m weeping as I write this. Okay, not really. But I remember feeling sick a few times when I let a monster trout get away. There was the day when my sixth-grade son hooked a monster brown on a size #18 red brassie. I urged him not to panic, but apparently I did. I hurried towards the fish with my net, and it made its escape by wrapping the leader around my leg and snapping off the fly from the tippet.

Thankfully, I have not let all the big ones get away. I’ve landed my share of large trout, too. Here are four tips for keeping monster trout on the line:

1. Moisturize the knot you are tying.

That’s a nice way saying, wet the knot with your spit. Saliva will not weaken your leader material. It will prevent it from losing its strength.

When you pull monofilament tight, the friction creates heat that can weaken the knot or the line around it. So put the knot it your mouth to moisten it before you pull it tight.

2. Keep your line tight.

A fly fishing friends signs off on his emails with “Tight lines.”

It took me a while to figure out why that’s such good advice. Slack in your line makes it easier for a hook to slip out of a trout’s mouth or for the trout to shake it free — whether you have a 22-inch rainbow or an eight-inch brookie.

The most vulnerable time, perhaps, is right after you hook a fish.

You want to reel in the extra line, and that’s important. But keep the line tight while you’re reeling in the extra line. Once you’ve done that, the fish will be working against your rod, and you can adjust the drag setting on your reel to allow for more or less tension.

So how do you keep the line tight while you are reeling in the excess? It’s not that difficult to do when you try it, but it’s maddening to try to explain with words!

So practice while someone is holding your line. Or tie it to your leader to a porch railing or your child’s tricycle (but not to your black lab’s collar unless you have a lot of backing!). You can figure it out from there.

3. Practice “home field advantage.”

Your home field is the run in which you’re fishing or the shallow water near the shore. The trout’s home field is an undercut bank, particularly if there is a log nearby. So don’t let the trout head to its lair. Pull it sideways to keep it in the area where you can handle it. If you can get it into the shallow water near the shore, that’s all the better.

4. Guide the trout into your net.

An old adage says that most accidents happen at or near home. That’s true for landing trout. It’s when you get the trout near your net that the danger of losing it increases. So don’t go stabbing at it with your net! Lift your rod and pull it into the net. Don’t bother swiping at the trout with your net.

Also, if at first you don’t succeed, try again. If the trout suddenly darts away from the net, just keep it in front of you and bring it in for another attempt at landing it.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping Monster Trout on the Line

  1. Your “ROD” hand and your “LINE” hand. The “TRIGGER” finger is the forefinger of the “ROD” hand. When you are casting the line from the closest eyelit should feed into you “LINE” hand. All slack is behind your “LINE” hand. When you make your presentation cast (measuring distance ), the line slides through your “LINE” hand. Just before your fly lands, you should move your “LINE” hand over and behind your “TRIGGER” finger (forefinger) of the “ROD” hand. With a little practice, this will become a habit. Never reach in front of your “TRIGGER” finger with your “LINE” hand to strip line. Your “TRIGGER” finger is essential to setting the hook. After your fly has landed on the water, you are fishing. As long as you are fishing, the flyline remains behind the forefinger of the “ROD” hand. Everything is centered on controlling the line. This is how I do it and this is how I teach it. Have fun!

  2. I’ve found that when landing a big fish, it pays to wade a little deeper if you’re shallow. This helps because sometimes the shallow water spooks the fish, and it’s easy for them to break off on a rock or something in shallow water.

    Something important with tight lines… I always give the line a little extra slack when the fish jumps by leaning into the fish slightly, and you tighten up the line when the fish lands… It’s just so easy for a jumping fish to snap the line if it’s to tight.

    • Thanks, Ben! That’s good wisdom. Deeper water also makes it easier to net a big fish. I only bring a fish into shallower water if it’s played out and if there are no obstructions. I’m going to practice your idea about leaning into a jumping fish. That makes sense. Now I just need to get several jumpers on the line this spring and summer so that I can practice that technique!!!