Ladyfisher

This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
April 10th, 2006

And The Secret Is...


And this is the big one.

If you are new to fly fishing, you have probably missed this one.

If you are an old timer and have not found it, you aren't any better a fly fisher than the guy who just started last week.

This secret applies to casting, hooking a fish, playing a fish, and landing a fish - just the most important stuff in our sport.

Have any ideas?

Here is a clue, it is one specific thing. The one thing which makes or breaks your fishing success. No, it isn't attitude.

It is line control. LINE CONTROL.

Start with casting. There are three parts to casting. Stop, look and listen. Stop the rod, look at your loops, and listen to the sound your rod/line makes. You must be able to control the size of your loops. From a nice tight loop to a big open loop when you want it - not by chance. In doing slack-line casts, curve casts and other speciality casts, the game is the same, line control. Sound? What should you hear as you make a cast? Only the sound of the line singing by. No swosh sound, (which is caused by over-powering the cast, and usually only occurs on the forward cast.)

How to you hook a fish? It doesn't matter if you are fishing a dry fly, streamer, nymph or woolly bugger, you must know where your fly is, be able to feel a connection between you and the fly, and keep unwanted slack out of the line so you can strike the fish. By either lifting the tip of your rod or line-striking the fish you put the hook through the jaw of the fish. This is called? Line control. Without line control you can't consistently hook fish. So you've had some fish hook themselves? You got lucky. You need to be able to do it yourself.

Landing a fish? Sometimes I can't help but laugh at some of the people I see on television. And darm, they broke off the fish, the fish "got off" or worse, they broke their rod. How could that happen?

Need a hint? The angler lost control of the LINE. Without control of the line you can't have control of the fish.

Rule number one - once you have set the hook on any fish, regardless of size, get your slack line on the reel. Not laying on the ground, floating who knows where on the water, grinding into the sand or weeds, or making a wonderful opportunity to tangle in your feet or net or anywhere else. Get the slack line on the reel, and play the fish off the reel. Every time. It should be automatic.

There are times when some slack line is necessary - such as making mends in the drift of your fly. Mends are a means of extending or changing the drift on a dry fly, and a method of getting your fly deeper in the water column. Mends are made by lifting the rod tip and flipping a small amount of line out, (usually upstream) or using a half roll-cast to move the line without drowning your dry fly. It takes practice of something called: Line Control.

I had an opportunity to watch Jamie Howards' wonderful DVD on bonefishing, In Search of a Rising Tide (which I absolutely love) and noticed time after time these ultra-professionals, the top Bahamian guides each and every time in perfect control of their line. Having done a fair amount of bone fishing, it was wonderful to see these gentlemen at play. Everything was done perfectly. Of course. I even noticed these guides were fishing in their stocking feet. No shoes. I know they do that so no line could tangle on shoe laces or tabs, or toes or anything else. I've fished in the Bahamas my stocking feet, but because the heat on the deck got to me with shoes on. Maybe I got lucky on that one.

Casting from the desk of a flats boat can be difficult, especially if you have fly line on the deck and a fish hits in one second and wraps the loose line around your foot. You and fish can be gone in an instant. Gives a whole new meaning for swimming with the fishes.

The cause of the unplanned swim and loss of a nice fish? Lack of Line Control.

Maybe you aren't serious yet about your fishing. Perhaps you think what you do is just fine. If so, stop reading now.

However, if you want to do it right, be in control of your fishing, casting, hooking, playing and landing fish, you must be in control of your fly line. Everything will be better - and inevitably you will have a more rewarding fishing experience. (You will land more fish too.)

There are many fly fishers out there who have been fishing for twenty years or more. But what they have is one year's experience twenty times. They have not taken their fishing seriously nor improved their abilities. But trust me, they 'know everything.'

Ya right.

I'm older than dirt, been fly fishing for nearly 60 years - and I don't know everything. I'm still learning. Every new piece of water is a challenge. Every new fish is a different experience. New equipment changes the game. Lots of variables.

One thing remains constant, I don't have to think about it because it is "in there," automatic, second nature. Line control.

Line control is a specific technique you can work on. You will make mistakes, we all do, but if you make it a priority, you can do it - and your fishing will magically improve because you know the secret. ~ The LadyFisher

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