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Trouts Journal

5 Tips For Landing Big Fish In High Water

Ivan Orsic / Jul 2, 2015

I’m sure we all know what it feels like to hook a large fish and have him point his head downstream and run with no intentions of stopping, and sure enough he eventually snaps off and you lose your whole rig. I don’t know about you but it’s not a good feeling, and on top of it all you usually lose your flies which is the equivalent to just taking five bucks out of your wallet and tossing it in the river. I will admit this has happened to me more than once this year already, but I have also landed and netted some big fish that should've been lost. Here are the 5 tips to help you land big fish in high water this spring.

  1. Fish with a partner- Fishing with a partner is the number one tip and is absolutely necessary when trying to land big fish, especially with the fast current working against you. The odds of being able to get a fish within arms reach is very low when the fish can turn his head downstream and make up 20 feet in a matter of seconds. Having your fishing partner downstream of you with a net will allow you to swing the fish right or left towards the net instead of trying to pull the fish upstream towards you which is nearly impossible in high flows.
  2. Use biggest tippet size possible- High water, in most cases, also means off color water. The more off color the water is the larger tippet size you can use, which also means more power when fighting fish. Just because you usually fish 5x or 6x at a river doesn’t not mean you have to when the river is in full runoff. Those fish are more concerned with eating and survival than looking at what size tippet you have on. I have not tied on tippet smaller than 4x this spring.
  3. Long handled net- If you do not have one I would highly suggest buying one, Fishpond and Rising both make some of the best long handled fly fishing nets that we sell here in the shop. I have seen many fish get landed that wouldn’t have if the netter did not have that extra reach.
  4. Don’t be afraid to run- You want to keep the fish as close to you as possible, preferably even with you or above you and try and keep the fish from the middle, but if he wants to go there let him run, don’t try and put the brakes on. If the fish makes a big run downstream you will need to chase him downstream, because reeling him all the way back up to you is a great way to lose fish. While you are chasing the fish down make sure you are reeling in the slack you are making up to keep tension, and also try and get the fish back over to the bank that you are on.
  5. Be aware of your drag- If that fish makes a big run downstream go ahead and loosen the drag up a bit until you get him back in control then tighten it back down, this will put less pressure on the fish during situations where break offs are more prone to happen.
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