On the Fly: Tension can be a good thing | AspenTimes.com
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On the Fly: Tension can be a good thing

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

Plenty of anglers reach a point where they are hooking plenty of fish, but struggling to get them to hand. There are many variables that can lead to you losing that fish, but don’t despair — here are a few tips that should turn it around for you.

The No. 1 problem is the “death grip.” Simply put, we are usually hooking the fish on line that is extremely light and fine, so we need to soften up once the fish has decided to eat our fly. If we don’t allow the fish to take line, inevitably the tippet will break. You can certainly keep tension on the fish, but experience will teach you what you can and can’t get away with. Once the fish is “on the reel,” we generally don’t touch it while the fish is making its first run or two. Once they tire out, crank away, unless they decide to take you on another lap around the lake or river.

Learning proper tension is paramount. Over our fishing careers we absorb how to fight fish on different diameters of tippet. You can almost lock down with pressure on a fish on 0x, whereas a fish hooked on 6x requires finesse on your part. Once tension is lost on your fish, you generally won’t see it again, especially if you are fishing small and barbless flies. Most fish that have been hooked before like making U-turns in the river to create this slack, so be ready for it!



Many anglers lose fish because they are too concerned with getting all that line back on the reel. Let this happen organically. Most fish, and especially the big ones, will take care of this for you. If it’s small, land them manually “on the line” and leave all that extra fly line at your feet, ready to recast after the release.

Lastly, we need to move with the fish when we are angling on foot. If they make a run up or downstream, you need to be right there with them. Distance between you and a well-hooked fish usually doesn’t end well. With spring on our doorstep, it’s time to get out there and experience the midge and BWO hatches (and soon-to-arrive caddis swarms). I hope you land every fish you hook the next time you hit the river!




This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.

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