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You’re with a few friends on the water…

You hook a fish, and inevitably, within a few seconds, someone instinctively shouts:

“Get ’em on the reel! Get ’em on the reel!”

A word of advice: Blow that off. In some situations, that is the dumbest advice you can get. You might disagree with me, but here’s my reasoning…

First and foremost, as my guide friend Peter Fallon explained as we were fishing for stripers in Maine yesterday (more on a great day later): “Any fish that deserves to be fought on a reel will eventually find its way to the reel anyway.” True enough. Any fish that pulls hard enough to show you the benefit of a disc drag reel is going to take care of that slack issue for you…

That said, I’ve also seen hundreds of fish punted, which might otherwise have been caught, when the angler is goofing around trying to crank line onto a reel while the rod has no flex… all because some knucklehead, somewhere in the past told them that when they hook a fish–any fish–their priority should be to get it on the reel.

I don’t know where that started… probably with some reel maker. I wish it would stop. Some fish are meant to be fought on the reel, and others are not… at least it shouldn’t be a priority.

The “reel” best advice I can give in this regard is that your priority concern after hooking up should be to keep the rod flexed in a consistent arc in all cases. If you can do that and have a straight connection between the reel and the fish, great. Of course. That’s the best scenario.

But sometimes fish run at you, and sometimes they’re too small for the reel. Maintain a steady flex, a “C” shape in the fly rod, and you’ll land the fish more often than not. Rod goes flat (too much resistance) you break… rod loses flex (no resistance) fish spits the hook.

It’s all about the arc. It’s not about the reel.

Now, I could tell you what prompted me to think about this little lesson, but it just might involve this guy I know (ahem), who should have known better, but listened to alittle voice in his head say “get ’em on the reel!” and booted a nice striper off the beach this morning, but I’m not going there…

Deeter

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