That magic moment happens, and you finally get a bite. The last thing you want is to have the fish drop off. Here are a few tips to ensure that you convert as many bites into a fish successfully in your net as possible.
1). The 'Opposites' Tactic
Most fish, regardless of species, know their underwater environment well. Fish know where snags and other underwater obstacles are, and invariably head straight towards them to escape!
A simple rule is that fish tend to pull or move in the opposite direction to where you are pulling. For example, if you have the rod tip straight up over your head, the fish will drop deeper in the water. If you have your rod tip over to the right the fish will pull to your left. You can use this to your advantage to help lead fish away from danger, and into your net.
2). Using Clutch or Back Wind
Regardless of your preference, you should be ready to give the fish line. This ensures that you don’t rip the hook out or snap your line due to having too much pressure on a running fish.
Using the clutch on your reelis even more important at close quarters when there is less stretch in your line and the pressure on your tackle is magnified. It is good practice to have your clutch set a little lighter than you need to so you can use your finger for control by stopping the spool if needs be.
A common error is that people tend to lose tension on the fish whilst playing them, especially less experienced anglers. Combine this with barbless hooks, and often the result is your fish escaping. A properly adjusted clutch, or being ready to backwind, will help keep the correct tension/bend in the rod.
3). The Study and Practice of Hydrodynamics
Essentially this is working with the fluidity of the water to your advantage when battling the fish. Have you ever seen anglers (maybe more so match anglers) playing fish with their rods low to the water?
Not only does playing with the rod low bring the fish higher in the water as per “opposites”, but it also enables you to lead the fish through the water to your net in the same alignment as they swim, with a parallel body travelling head first.
This technique reduces the water resistance, and therefore the stress on your tackle. Try keeping the rod low and to the side, and lead your fish in.
4). Balancing out your Fishing Tackle
It’s all about having a balanced setup when playing fish. If you have a powerful rod and light line you risk a break, if you have a huge difference between the breaking strain of your mainline and your hook length, this will also lead to you increasing the chances of breaking off.
Ensure that your tackle is balanced; that way your line, rod, and reel will all hold strong and put more fish on the bank.
5). Practice Makes Perfect
The last tip is advice that you will hear time and time again with many elements of angling and that is to get in as much practice as you can to improve your playing skills.
Mastering how to play fish with guaranteed success comes from plenty of practice at the bankside or shoreline. We suggest you revisit waters and venues where you can get some consistent action, even if it means landing the same, average-sized fish.
Without knowing it, you will get a greater feel for everything discussed above, and develop your own playing style. The more you do this, the better you get; then, when you have that PB swirl near your landing net, you are ready to make sure the next time it pops up you get it in the net!
We hope those tips help you with playing fish in your future sessions and the next fish you hook is the fish of a lifetime! Be sure to send your fishing success to us on our socials!