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River Valley Outdoors
In the last column I offered several tips to make fly fishing more enjoyable, mostly focusing on the proper attitude. In this column I’d like to give the reader a few more tips to assure an easier time on the water that also may lead to better fishing with a fly rod.
The first tip came to light as I put away my gear from a recent trip. I don’t like to leave my fishing gear strewn around the house, so I started to store my equipment in its proper place when I got to thinking about taking care of some of the problems I encountered during that day of fishing.
Too often, I begin a day of fishing by taking care of certain details that caused problems on the previous trip. I find myself standing at the river’s edge replacing a worn leader, straightening a coiled leader, reorganizing a messy fly box, or some similar problem that keeps me from getting my line in the water.
From now on, I’m going to take care of these problems as soon as I get home from fishing – while the frustration of the problems are still fresh in my mind. That way I’ll be able to start the day with a clear head and be assured that I haven’t forgotten to fix something.
One part of this preparation includes loading up my threader box with the tiny flies that I find difficult to attach to a tippet. For those that don’t know, a threader box has these little wire devices that help an angler get the tippet through the eye of really small hooks.
In my case, any fly hook smaller than a number 18 gets loaded on a threader ahead of the day of fishing. That way, I don’t need slow the fishing process down by putting on magnifying eyeglasses to tie on a small fly – I just slip the tippet into the threader, tie the knot and I’m ready to fish.
Another great time saver that every angler should have is a net with rubber mesh. Traditional string nets, or the wire kind, often snag hooks, causing a huge delay in releasing a fish.
No one likes to struggle with releasing a fish – it’s a waste of precious fishing time and also doesn’t help fish survival rates by keeping the fish out of the water longer. The soft rubber mesh on the net also avoids roughing up the delicate skin of trout and salmon – important to increase the health of a released fish.
One tip I learned a few years back has help me keep fishing while other struggle to remove a snagged hook. Every angler, at one time or another, finds their hook stuck in overhanging limbs, rocks, or any number of other snagging possibilities.
Getting the hook out in a hurry makes sense – you want to get back to fishing as soon as possible, and don’t want to scare the fish by stirring up the water unnecessarily.
With the line drawn fairly tight, throw a roll cast directly at the snagged hook. If the hook isn’t deeply buried in wood, the resulting effect sometimes dislodges the hook immediately, without stirring up the water too much.
Another method works on snags below the surface of a river or stream. If the roll-cast method above doesn’t do the trick, simply let out enough line to form a huge curve downstream of the snag. Then lower the rod tip to the surface of the water and sharply haul it back upstream, while at the same time hauling the line with your free hand. This method uses the force of the current to pull the hook in the opposite direction that you were stripping your line, and hopefully removes the hook from the snag.
The last tip involves learning a unique knot that can save anglers loads of time. Untangling snarled line waste more precious fishing time than anything else, but tying knots takes a close second place. The quick-tying Duncan Loop solves this time-consuming problem.
Get a good book on tying knots, or view it on Facebook, and memorize the Duncan Loop. The easy-to-tie knot can be used for most fly fishing applications; tying backing to a reel, attaching a fly to the tippet, etc.
The greatest thing about the Duncan Loop is that, once learned, most anglers find they can easily tie it in the dark. This is especially helpful for those of us that need reading glasses for up-close, detailed work like tying on a small fly.
Hopefully these few tips, along with the attitude adjustment from the last column, will get fly fishers off to a good start this fishing season. As mentioned in the previous column, fishing is supposed to be fun. Learning techniques that make our day on the water more efficient streamlines the fishing process, minimizes frustration, and allows anglers to spend more time actually fishing rather than preparing to fish.