THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Fishermen are famous for their stories of the big one that got away. From excuses about bad knots to tales of fish too big to be true, anglers aren't short on reasons why they couldn't land their big catch.
If you'd rather have pictures — or a mount of the fish — to prove the veracity of your fish stories, then take a look at these five tips for landing big fish on a fly rod.
Let it run
According to an article from Gink and Gasoline by Kent Klewein, a common mistake anglers make when they hook a big trout is not letting the fish run.
"Big fish are notorious for making hard charging runs right after being hooked," Klewein wrote. "If you've got a death grip on your fly line and don't let the trout take (the) fly line, you'll almost always break the fish off."
You want to make sure you keep tension on the hook after a trout takes your fly; however, if the fish feels like it wants to run, let the slack line slide through your fingers and use your reel to manage the fish's runs.
The right angle
We're all taught to keep the tip of our rods up when fighting fish. While this is generally a good rule, you'll have better leverage over an angry trout if you put your rod at a different angle.
The fisherman in this photo has his rod at a 45-degree angle to better fight the trout on his line, which charged directly away from him.
Keeping your rod tip lower to the water, with the tip always against the run of a trout, increases your odds of landing a big fish.
Let it jump
Bigger trout don't jump as often as small ones, but when they do, it's imperative to leave a generous amount of slack in the line. When a fish jumps, it's shaking its head in an attempt to free the hook from its mouth. This builds up tension in your leader, and once the fish lands back in the water, that tension tends to snap the leader.
Don't fight a jumping fish— let the trout perform its acrobatics, then get back to work reeling it in.
Use your reel
Fly reels get a reputation as glorified line holders, and they certainly serve that purpose for too many fishermen.
You'll need to play with your reel before heading out, but you generally want your reel's drag set at a level that matches your leader size without compromising its integrity.
As Kirk Deeter wrote for Field & Stream, "Don't leave your reel in free spool. Find a good drag setting that matches your tippet size and stick to it."
Once the trout's head breaks the surface, the fight is almost always over. A fish with its nose pointed beneath the water is a fish with energy for one more run.
The moment you see a trout's nose sticking out of the water, quickly guide it to your net. A fish shouldn't get another run on you if you net it as quickly as possible after its head comes up.
Fighting trout does take skill, but it also requires instinct and time on the water. What are some of your favorite ways to land big trout on a fly rod? Let us know in the comments.