Side Pressure Technique for Fighting Your Fish
For all you old fly anglers and for all you new fly anglers we have all had trouble from time to time in keeping a hard fighting trout on our lines. They either bust off losing your fly or your rod will suddenly go limp losing the trout. This is a common occurrence for many fly anglers and have plagued many an angler for the breadth of their fly fishing careers. Many times while fighting a good sized trout those wily trout just come off your fly and you will never know why. My educated guess for most of those losses it’s as simple as the fly stuck in the trout’s mouth is thinly set and the fly under pressure just slides out of the trout’s mouth. This is how most of us want to believe why we lost that hefty trout we had on and then lost.
However, that’s only one way that we lose hooked trout. During the fight between the angler and the trout, the trout will win the battle simply by the mistakes you make. If you have a solid hook set, and the fly is perfectly embedded in the trout’s mouth, then it really boils down to who makes the first mistake, you or the trout. If we take some of the intangibles out of the fight such as the trout wraps the leader around a rock, it dives into a submerged brush pile or wraps you around in the moss, if you don’t make a mistake then you should have a high degree of success in landing said trout.
The most common mistake while fighting a trout is we tend to horse in the trout like you would a spinning rod. If you do this then you will have a low catch rate. More often than not if you horse in a trout you will lose it. The physics employed when horsing in a trout are in favor of the trout. A trout always has it’s head upstream or in the current and when hooked will either go upriver or down river. When you horse a trout you have the rod straight up in front of your face and the pressure applied to the trout is up. This caused the fish to pull harder into the current with it’s head down and fins pulling hard. This is a battle the trout will almost always win unless you have a great hook set and you have on zero X tippet. Trout can only move in the direction their heads are facing. They can’t swim backwards or from side to side. Their response to pressure is to move forward and move fast. This can be the determining factor on why you just lost that trout. I’m not saying for you not to have your rod straight up, what I’m saying is not to have your fly rod straight up while the trout itself has it’s head upriver after the initial hook set.
Instead try this technique. After the initial hook set bring your fly rod down to your side, more of a 90 degree angle in relationship to the trout. Now the pressure you put on the trout is from the side thus pulling the trout sideways towards shore. At this initial stage of the fight it’s not important to win the battle it’s more to just move the head of the trout towards shore. Once a trout’s head is moved towards shore then it’s body will follow. At this stage you are now in the drivers seat. Once you have the trout positioned in the river with its head towards shore then raise the rod straight up. This will then pressure the trout towards you. The trout has no other alternative but to swim towards shore both by it’s the only direction he can swim and the pressure of the rod straight up. If the trout decides to turn and swim up or down river then repeat the process until you can bring him to hand or net.
One mistake can cause you to lose your trout. The mistake the trout makes is you have caused him to turn towards shore. Once a trout is turned towards shore then the battle is all but over for him. Always work to have the trout make the first mistake. Remember this is just a technique, but a proven technique. You will still lose trout while fighting them but by using side pressure during the fight you will lose fewer trout in the long run.