Tip #10, executed to perfection.
Photo: Cameron Miller
- Cast across and slightly downstream. You certainly need to read the water you’re fishing and adjust accordingly, but in general if you’re fishing a broad, gradual gravel bar, the most effective presentation is across and maybe 20 degrees downstream from perpendicular to the flow.
- Mend big. No delicate mends here. In your typical king swinging water, a big upstream mend immediately after the fly lands will result in the best presentation. Mend big – use the whole rod. Move the whole fly line.
- Mend slack. If you shoot all your line on the cast and then make that big mend, you’ll be pulling the fly back towards you, rather than taking advantage of the beautiful long cast you just made (right?). Hang on to that last 5 feet or so of running line when you make your cast, so that when you mend you can let go and mend slack– positioning the line and the fly properly, not pulling the fly back towards you.
- Maintain a straight line to the fly. Kings want a long, slow, steady swing. In most water this is best achieved by keeping your line as straight to the fly as possible. Don’t worry about perfection – make a few big mends to keep the line straight, and then just let ‘er swing.
- Don’t set until you’ve got a steady pull. The classic king take goes like this – Yank…yank…pause…deep pull. Wait for the deep pull to set the hook. We’re not always sure what going on underwater during a take, but we know you need to wait for the deep pull. Of course, if line just suddenly starts screaming off you reel, you don’t need to wait for much of anything.
- Set low, hard, and towards the bank. A lazy rise of the rod tip will not get the job done here. After you get the deep pull, give a hard, quick jab downstream and toward the bank with the butt of your rod. If your knots are tied well you’re not going to break him off– set hard.
- Don’t try to stop them. Particularly on the first couple of strong runs, let them run. If they’re headed downriver and you clamp down to try to halt the run– here’s where you are going to break them off. Unless you’re staring at your arbor knot and you’ve got no choice, let them run and work hard to retrieve line once they stop. Besides, this is the fun part!
- Put the heat to ’em. Once you’ve got the hook set, and after the mayhem of the first couple of runs, fight them hard. These are big, strong fish, and if you’re not working hard, they’re resting. The longer the fight lasts, the longer the hook has to work itself free, and the more time the fish has to be come dangerously exhausted. Fight them hard! You should be breathing hard after landing a hot king – really.
- Walk backwards to land them. When the fight is nearly over and the fish is ready to be landed, the easiest way to end the fight is often to keep a tight line to the fish and slowly walk backwards until the fish is in shallow water. If you’re not in a spot where you can walk backwards (like up against a brushy bank), you may just have to get creative.
- If you’re going to take a picture, leave the fish close to the water. If not in the water, that is. It’s much easier on the fish and it just looks better!
What did we miss? Leave a comment and let us know what works for you.
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