The First Ten Seconds

10 comments / Posted on / by

Hot in pursuit after a big fish – Photo By: Louis Cahill

Chaos and panic are good words to describe what goes through many anglers heads during the first ten seconds following a big fish hookup.

The decisions you make during those first seconds of the fight will often determine whether you or the fish wins the battle. There’s lots of ways to lose a big fish and sometimes it’s completely out of your control. But one of the worst decisions you can make, specifically when a fish is making a screaming run upstream or downstream of you, is deciding to stay put and not follow. When this happens you better be ready to kick it into high gear and move your ass fast in pursuit. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find yourself with no leverage to apply adequate power to fight and steer the fish. It’s like trying to drive a car on a curvy road without a steering wheel, it’s just not going to work.

Big trout usually only have a couple really long hard runs. If you can stick with them during the blitzing runs and keep good tension, you’ll often find the hardest part of the fight is over with. After that it’s all about being patient and smart until you can bring the fish into the net. Most big fish are lost within the first ten seconds of the fight. Be smart and make the right decisions during those critical moments. That way you can claim victorious in the end.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

10 thoughts on “The First Ten Seconds

  1. You mentioned this to me once, a while back, and I completely agree. I make sure to explain this exact thing to all of my clients, especially those that are new to the sport. That fish is going to set the tone for that fight in those first few seconds. You just gotta keep cool. Get yourself together, gather your thoughts, and try to anticipate what that trout may, or may not, do. Like you said, it’s that first several seconds that are the most chaotic. If you can survive it, then you’re chances of landing that fish definitely increase. Great piece of advice.

  2. When the opportunity for a big fish is present, it is important to survey your surroundings and plan the fight in advance. Part of the plan should be having on tippet sufficient to put pressure on the fish when needed. As you move into place to make a cast, advance planning should be as routine as checking for knots in your tippet and fouled flies. Your fight plan can be simple but must take into account footing, water downstream, clearance from obstructions, your mobility and athletic ability, and proximity of fast water. Much of this is important for your safety as well as getting the fish. If it takes a few seconds to figure out what to do after the hookup, your options may be taken away, such as when a fish makes it to an autobahn-type run headed downstream or reaches underwater snags.

    A couple decades ago I managed to fool a big trout or silver salmon (never saw the fish) just upstream from the mouth of the the Lower Talarik in AK that seemingly went from 0 to 60 downstream while I remained a spectator. In a matter of seconds, the fish backlashed my line and snapped my tippet. My reel was inadequate, my skills were undeveloped for a fish that size, and I missed the chance to run downstream with the fish (which was in my capability in those days). My guide was extremely disappointed, but he used the opportunity for a teaching moment. What he told me was essentially what you placed in this post. I do not know if I could have saved that opportunity by running downstream, but it would have given me a fighting chance.

  3. I would add the last 10 seconds of the fight as well. I have seen too many people get frantic and give the reel a death grip, or put too much tension on the line right before the fish sees the bottom of the net. Good read!

    • I sure agree with the last 10 seconds also being critical. I have lost some really nice fish by becoming to anxious to get it in the net. Not planning ahead and “guiding” the fish into the net as opposed to doing the old swoop & scoop is sure to loose some fish.


  4. Experience is obviously the best teacher but most of us can’t just go out and catch trophy trout whenever we want. I think catching generally largers species (bass, stripers, redfish, carp) is far better practice for fighting and landing big trout than catching small trout.

  5. Not sure I agree with hoofing it immediately is best strategy. If it is a really big fish get it on the reel first – then if you have to scramble you do not have loose line looking for something to wrap around.
    Many guides I have fished with and talked to here in New Zealand advise only following a fish if you really have to – if it’s going down a rapid or similar.
    Chasing a fish usually does not allow you to get line angle on the fish so you can move it sideways. Following a fish almost always leads to a straight line pull against the direction the fish is going. Changing a fishes direction is one of the best means of gaining control.

    • Hi not sure how you can put sideways pressure on the fish if its way downstream.I always like to keep sideways so I can keep turning the fish into the shallow water at the edge.quite often the fish will start to beach itself and you may get an early opportunity to net it if you have a large net with a long enough handle. Keeping on top of it means you can lift line around obstructions. Much easier with big browns than rainbows which scream off downstream to their favourite rock , the one with the stick round it to trap your line.

  6. Pingback: A Team Approach To Landing Big Fish | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying | Fly Fishing Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...