Use Side Pressure To Avoid Breaking Off On Snags

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Capt. Joel Dickey applying side pressure to steer a fish away from a snag. Photo By: Louis Cahill

You’ve got a big fish on and it’s making a screaming run straight for a big snag on the far bank. What should you do to decrease your chances of breaking off?

Your best bet is to apply low side pressure with your rod while keeping a perpendicular position between you and the fish at all times. Doing so you can put twice as much pressure on the fish than you normally can when your fly rod is in the overhead fighting position. Secondly, it’s much easier for you to steer the fish’s head and turn its direction using low side pressure. Always follow the fish up and down the river during the fight. The closer you stay to the fish the more leverage and power you can apply to steer and control the fish. Lastly, don’t tighten down on the fish trying to stop its run towards a snag, because nine times out of ten you’ll end up breaking the fish off. The harder you pull on a big fish the harder it generally going to pull back. If you find playing the fish aggressively makes the fish fight harder and more difficult to control, try backing off on your power and playing the fish more gently. Sometimes doing this will calm the fish down enough to gain control and win the battle.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline

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