Playing and Landing a Fish
Playing and Landing a FishDespite thousands of words of sound advice from fishing writers on the subject of playing and-landing, anglers who lack this basic skill nevertheless lose many fish. The most common weak spots are: little or no understanding of the slipping clutch on the frequently used fixed-spool reel and not knowing how to coax out a fish that has run into weed (which can happen to the most experienced angler).
First, then, the slipping clutch. Before making the first cast, hold the rod in one hand and place one finger lightly on the edge of the spool. With the other hand take hold of the end of the line and pull as hard as possible. The clutch should now slip. If it does so before reaching maximum pressure the clutch is set too loose, while if the line breaks the clutch is too tight. With the spool set correctly it is impossible for a running fish to break the line, providing, that is that everything else is done properly.
When a fish is hooked, immediately apply one
finger of the rod hand to the rim of the
Pumping and netting
When the fish stops its run, line is recovered by the process known as pump-ing’. For this, assuming the fish is stationary or nearly so, turn the reel handle, at the same time lowering the rod until the tip is at waist level. Then increase finger pressure on the spool rim and bring up the rod to its former position. Repeat the process until the fish runs again or is ready for the net.
It is now at the point of netting - that most mistakes occur. When the fish is played out, the net is placed in the water, ready for use. With the fish wallowing or lying on the surface, bring the rod tip down to waist level once more, and, with the other hand holding the net, draw the rod back over the shoulder, maintaining strong pressure on the spool all the time. Steady the net about 12in below the surface and draw the fish towards and over it. Do not lift until the fish is over the net.
Sometimes, as the fish is drawn to the net, it will suddenly find new strength and either swim off or change direction. Let it do so for it is unlikely to take line, keep the finger on the spool and allow the rod to take the strain.Two important points must be remembered:
First, as the fish comes over the net make sure that the rod is no farther back than 30 degrees to the vertical. If it is. you will not have complete control over the fish. Secondly, never move the net towards the fish but keep it still and pull the fish over it.
The problem of the fish that runs into weed is one that requires swift action. Some fish, especially roach and chub, will manage to transfer the hook to the weed and escape. Other species, barbel and tench in particular, are not so clever and must be extracted from the weed by ‘pumping’. As soon as the fish reaches the weed, use the technique de-scribed earlier, repeating the process without stopping and keeping the finger down hard on the spool.
Once the fish starts to move, keep control of the situation with continual pumping, as this will, in the majority of cases, get the fish out of the weed. This technique relies on knowing how much pressure your line will take - something that only comes with experience, and not normally before the loss of a fish.
Coaxing a fish through weed