Across the board, one of the most misunderstood aspects of fly fishing that we see at our lodges is how to effectively fight big fish. Rightfully so, there are all kinds of variables that can come into play when you’re hooked up to Hog Johnson – Far more than we could ever fit into a single article.
However, there are a few fundamentals that a simple understanding of will help get fish to hand in most situations. One of those fundamentals is avoiding angle changes of the rod as much as possible.
While fighting a fish (especially big fish), changing the angle of the rod back and forth throughout the fight is a good way to open up the hook hold that you worked so hard to get. Picking the correct side, standing your ground, and remaining there until you’re forced to do otherwise is the key to landing big strong fish.
But how do you know which side to fight from? We’ll tell you.
When fighting fish, always aim to put pressure to the side that creates the sharpest angle between the rod and the fly line. This puts maximum pressure on the hook for the strongest hold possible. In other words..
- If the fish is running from left to right – put pressure to the left.
- If the fish is running from right to left – put pressure to the right.
This way, resistance is applied in the opposite direction the fish wants to go. On the other hand, fighting fish by putting pressure in the same direction in which it is running (as if you were dragging a dog around on a leash) puts very little pressure to keep the hook pinned, often resulting in lost fish.
Put pressure to the correct side, and only switch if he changes direction or to avoid any obstacles. Otherwise, stand your ground and put the wood to him!