When a fish has finally taken your lure, fly, or bait, you need to know just when to strike to set the hook, and how to fight or play it. This is not an exact science—your instinct will always be important. Landing fish follows basic rules that apply to most species.
The whole process starts from the fish taking the bait. Then you strike it properly that you can catch it. After the strike, you need to play with it well so that it doesn’t get loose in the water. The process ends with landing the fish on the ground safely.
No matter how well is your fishing gear is or bait is, without a proper strike, you are going to lose the fish. So, for beginner angler or professional ones, a proper strike is very important. Here is the guide on striking the fish properly below:
Sometimes the fish will hit your lure, fly, or bait so hard that it ends up hooking itself. Lifting the rod into the fighting fish will then keep the line straight so the hook does not work loose and fall out.
But some species fiddle around with baits for a while before taking them properly, so you need to understand when to strike, sweeping the rod back or sideways to set the hook in the fish’s mouth.
Especially if you are going for trout fishing, you need to have proper bait for the trout and reels for it. Striking with different baits can work in different ways visually.
While you are watching for a visual sign of a bite, such as a float dipping, a dry fly being taken, or your rod tip bouncing, try to gauge when to strike by what you can feel through the line and rod. Have patience, and wait until the fish has picked up the bait, or taken the fly properly.
Some fish have hard mouths and require that you strike hard and repeatedly, but for most species, you need not make exaggerated movements.
The fish has taken the fly so fast that there is still a loose line to clear as the angler strikes and sets the hook. Keep clear of the loose line as the fish runs.
enough resistance to tire the fish without risking a broken line. You will lose fewer fish with a tight line. While you are playing a fish, use one hand to hold the foregrip of the rod, and the other to turn the reel handle.
The rod is not working against the fish unless there is bend in it, and the more strain you can put on the fish, the sooner it will tire. Unless if you are using a hard rod like the Redington Path-ii-outfit, keeping the line tight can be hard for most cases.
So, you need to master the technique of using a fishing rod and reel.
Playing with the fish is an art of technique. Especially if you are kayak fishing, it can be fun and also a tough job to do without proper skills. But if you can get the skills and some experiences, playing with the fish can be the most enjoyable thing to do for the anglers.
When a fish is small, it can be wound in without playing. For larger fish, the drag on your reel should be set so that the fish can take line when it runs. It will allow the fish to run in the water for some time, meanwhile losing its strength making the drag easier.
If you don’t provide ample time to play the fish, then probably it will get loosen if the hook gets through the fish properly.
As you play the fish, you will begin to feel its tire. The runs and lunges may become shorter and less powerful, or the fish may come to the surface and be easier to pull in.
Landing techniques vary; some fish are easily captured in a landing net, while others are too large and powerful for this. If you can, netting is always the safest way to land a fish.
Other methods include lifting it out with the rod; pulling the lineup, and grabbing the fish by the tail or another accessible part (only take hold of the mouth if you know the fish does not have sharp teeth); unhooking it in the water with a disgorger or T-bar, or beaching it.
To beach a fish on a seashore, let the waves wash it on to the beach until you can safely grab it. If you are on a river or lake, you may be able to steer a fish close to the edge of the water. When landing fish, watch the water conditions, and do not go out too far into the water and get into difficulties.
For big, heavy fish, you need an extra pair of hands to net your catch. The angler can use two hands for the rod, while a companion wades in with the net.
For heavy fish, your speed of the landing should be reduced, and in between the landing, your partner should help you. Sometimes, you need to net a fish in the water, if it is too heavy. We will discuss the netting techniques in the later part of this article.
Hold the head of the net underwater and steer your catch over it with the rod and line. Then scoop up the fish and gently bring it ashore. Then you can get rid of the fishing hook, depending on the different size of the hook, you may vary your technique after netting it.
Play the fish out, and then carefully grab it by the “wrist” of the tail. The shape of the tail prevents the fish from slipping out of your hand.
Some species, such as trevally, have a sharp ridge on the tail wrist, so be sure to wear protective gloves to tail them. You need to be close to or in the water to tail a fish; be sure to play it safe.