By Bob Reece
Successful anglers are built out of sounds habits.
Those habits focus not only on the large aspects of fly fishing but also on the small. Within the realm of those petite practices is being aware of the status of your tippet when you’re on the water.
Your tippet is often the weakest link between a fly that hooks fish and the line that runs through your rod. Due to this fact, it is critical to check the state of that material as you move through a day of fly fishing. A lack of due diligence often results in frustration and sometimes heart breaking experiences.
On a summer adventure with friends, we had been working through an isolated drainage known for its larger than average brown trout. While fairly open, the typical stream side vegetation of willow and alder were very much present. During the morning I watched my friend pop his tippet and fly loose from several different alder bushes. As we arrived at a large run below a waterfall, I asked him if he wanted to tie on a new section of tippet. My offer was declined.
After one round of rock, paper, scissors; he won the first cast into the run. On his second drift a large brown, over two feet long, happily ate his foam offering. My friend paused and set the hook perfectly. Sadness and open mouths followed seconds later when his tippet snapped a few feet up from the fly. With a little inspection, it was easy to see the abrasion to the material that had built up over the course of the morning.
Situations like this can be avoided by checking your tippet material throughout your time on the water.
By running your index finger and thumb over the material, any abrasions or rough spots can be easily detected. If these imperfections turn up, it’s well worth the time to cut that section out and blood knot it together or attach a completely new section of tippet.
In addition to wear and tear, it’s also important to slow down and take your time when knotting your tippet. I cannot count the times that I’ve seen friends and clients hustle through the knot tying process, only to see those knots fail. This is especially true when there are visible fish feeding or a particularly large fish is in view. Taking the extra thirty seconds or minute to properly tie a knot can make a huge difference. In addition to tying it properly, I always give the knot a firm and extended tug. I would much rather have a faulty knot break in my hand than on a fish.
Exceptional fly fishing experiences are not entirely a result of chance. As you head out for your next adventure on the water, add to your tool box of sound habits. Those effective habits with increase the quality of your performance and your fish-to-net success.
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