Why Am I Losing So Many Fish?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by LCnSac, May 5, 2014.

  1. Friday we went up to a local lake and killed it with trips, but I lost about three for every one I landed. I'm not used to that at all. Hoping someone can point out some errors. Here's what I was doing:

    Rod: 386 Redington CT. First time with it, LOVE this little guy!
    Line: Type II, 6 wt. (because that's what I had with me)
    Fly: Size 10 streamer pattern, no name club fly but it's crazy effective
    Retrieve: Fast strip/pause
    Set: Tried traditional rod lift and just a line pull. Didn't seem to matter.
    Fish: Small. 10" - 14" max. Typical plants

    Most of the lost fish were about halfway through the retrieving process. The hook was fairly sharp. My friend was having the same issues, same fly.

    My first inclination is to blame the new rod and heavy line, because I'm used to fishing with fast rods no matter the size. It took me some time to learn how to cast it--surprisingly it handled the heavy line pretty well. Maybe because of the heavy line I wasn't getting a good hook set? They just came unbuttoned. I don't get it.

    Ideas for improved technique?
  2. What manner is the bend of the hooks you're using?
  3. It looks like either a TMC 300 or a 2xl nymph hook. Down eye, straight (perfect) bend, gape isn't that wide.
  4. "Moonphase"
    It happens to all of us. Next time out it will get better.
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  5. You're right on target for blaming the new rod and the heavy line...though you "LOVE this little guy", that CT 3 weight is a really soft stick. The typical "lift the rod tip" strike won't be as effective with this rod, because it's soft, as well as it might with others. That 'soft' action is even exaggerated when the fly fisher is using a 6 weight sinking line on a 3 weight rod. So, a couple of things:

    1) Get a line that is more appropriate for your rod. With a CT, get a 3 weight to match the rod's stated line weight. And, at least as importantly:

    2) You should concentrate on keeping your rod pointed at the fish and give the fish a strip set, using the line, rather than setting the hook with the rod. OF course, once you're connected with the fish, then the rod comes in to play.

    Your gut instincts are right on.
  6. Hooks with a longer shank have more of a leveraging effect and seem to lose more fish than hooks with a short shank. This is one of the main reasons tube flies are so popular for "long" flies. May want to try shorter hooks.

    I've noticed that planters tend to pull at first then almost seem to swim towards you. As soon as I hook one, I'm usually stripping line as fasts as I can until it actually starts to fight (usually right at the boat). The key is to keep as much tension as possible.
    jjaims likes this.
  7. How long is the tail on the fly? sometimes with a longer tail you'll get tail grabs or short strikes, try giving a short pause after feeling the first tug then another short strip a lot of the time the fish will grab the tail and let go quickly but will hit the fly again after the pause strip usually resulting in a hookup at least that has been something that has worked for me and I prefer longer tails on my flies.
  8. Most likely it's not you or your gear. See this all the time and it's quite normal, particularly this time of year. They can be energetic and aggressive while not necessarily in feeding mode. The resulting behavior can be "swats" or short strikes where they hit your fly but not to swallow it. Beyond losing fish, other evidence of this is funny placement of the hook on the ones you manage to land (side of the lip, in the eyeball, etc). Best solution is just have fun and wait them out if you can stick around...they'll usually start taking for keeps on their own.

    Thats my version of moonphase anyway :)
    Irafly and Greg Armstrong like this.
  9. This eliminates any problems with your gear. Unlike a TMC 200, the 300 has a wider gap and the hook shank isn't all that long compared to other streamer hooks. So I don't think it's the hook. If you were using a TMC 200 or another style of narrow gape hook, I'd blame the hook.

    I tie the same pattern on different sizes of hooks (under and over size 10) just in case the size is making a difference. Sometimes it does help to change the hook size -- but not always going smaller but sometimes using a larger hooked pattern.

    Bottom line: if you're using barbless hooks that's the real problem :)
  10. Uh…that reminds me :rolleyes: about half the time the hook fell out of the mouths in the net, and only one gut hook out of about 20 to hand. Betcha that's a least partially it. They weren't short strikes. I do think the gear added to the problem though--I have a 2 wt. slime I line I just forgot to bring.
  11. Believe or not, there's a reason they started adding barbs to hooks... I think it had something to do with keeping the hook stuck in the mouth of the fish :D
  12. After fly fishing for 25 some odd years never having used a barbed hook I would say it's pretty damn unlikely that that would be the cause, sure I have had fish throw the hook from time to time but that's on me not the barbless hook and I have noticed fairly frequently when netted chironomid patterns will fall out of a fishes nose or lip buts that's just a bonus, I personally don't believe the hook's at fault if a fish gets off I always look at what I could have been doing wrong. I mean sure using a barbed hook means it's less likely to come undone but that's just an answer for poor technique more than anything else
    Denny likes this.
  13. I wouldn't lift the rod if you were you using a strip retrieve. Set the hook with and extra tug on the retrieve.
    jordan101 likes this.
  14. I think it is because the fish are small ( not much weight/strength /resistance) to drive the hook home and keep it there…
  15. Perhaps you answered your own question with the last comment.
  16. I agree with Ford Fenders. This last week Iv'e been fishing for three days with lots of fish on, aggressive hits on leeches and other big flies, mostly with a fast retrieve. One evening I had hard bites almost every cast for a while but only really stuck a few. Others would hit hard and jump twice with 30 feet of line still in the water...not much hope on those. The next day I had a lot of hits where i would just have afeeling there might be a fish there, I would lift and it would be fish-on! I also had a few foul hooked as FF said. Just keep on keepin on and be happy for every fish you get.
  17. Let's see, 20 fish to net and 3:1 lost, whatcha complainin' about? sounds like a pretty good day!
    jjaims likes this.

  18. Actually as I read the original post the gent is only batting 25%…losing 3 for every one landed….that not such a good day….
  19. must be a mariners fan with a rotation like that
  20. Thanks for your thoughtful comment...
    Evan Virnoche likes this.

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