My friends Tom Whitley and John Hagen guide on the super-sweet ranch waters where the rainbows and browns often top 20 inches in length, and 50-fish days are common. It’s a guide’s paradise, except for the fact that when people tie into trout like that, they tend to break off easily–especially when the current is heavy. A guide could go broke buying and tying flies just to keep up with demand. So these guys figured out a way to teach anyone how to land a big trout, and here it is:
1. When you hook a big one, yes indeed, you want to let the fish run, maintaining a good steady arc in the rod. Too much arc and you’ll break off, too little and the trout will spit the fly. Keep the arc.
2. Steer the fish out of heavy current by tipping the rod to the side and toward the shoreline. This works best when you are even with the fish’s position in the river (not far upstream of the fish).
3. Here’s the best part. When you get the fish in slack water, stick your rod tip in the water and crank on the reel. You’ll be amazed just how easily trout will follow along when you do your reeling with the rod tip in the water.
4. When you reel the end of the line through your rod tip (only the leader and tippet are left out), lift the rod, straight up, forcing the fish’s head to break the surface. When the head is up, maintain that pressure, because the fish has no leverage, and you can slide it right toward the waiting net.
Before you doubt it, try it. Tip in the water when you reel. You’ll cut your fight times in half, and land twice as many fish.