Bucko

Seeing Backing

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Over the last couple of evenings I have seen my backing twice.  That’s a good thing. Both evenings I have been fishing a beach on upper Cape Cod.  The first evening I got a solid hit and the fish was off. I tightened the drag on my Danielson reel and let the fish go. The fly line left my basket and backing started to disappear at a steady rate. Got to see enough backing to realize I had a pretty good fish. The first run was powerful additional runs were shorter and indicated the fish was getting tired but still feisty. Beaching the Striper worked. A quick measure and a double check had the fish at over 28 inches. The fly with the crushed barb popped out with a little back pressure.  My biggest striper this year.

 

The next evening not surprisingly found me at the same spot at about the same time. As a righty the Southeast wind made casting difficult so I stuck to back casting that cut down distance. The water was rough but not white cap rough. I noticed some swirls and they were within casting distance. I got my black fly into the general area, got the hit and saw the silver flash as the fish turned. Fly line disappeared at a steady pace, tightened drag, backing started to show. Tightened drag again and the fish didn’t slow. Loosened the drag a bit hoping a long run would tire the fish out…didn’t work. The fish was not slowing and my backing was running out. I tightened the drag again and the line went limp. Got the fly back intact.

 

I know where I will be this evening. Maybe a bigger reel with more backing, an aggressive hook set and a hook with a barb that hasn’t been crushed.

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that's awesome that you found a productive pattern! I am on my first season with a Danielsson F3W and it quickly became a favorite on my 9wt after entering the rotation in late May.  I'm running this reel with 200+yds of 40lb Suffix 832, a thin surfcasting braid. But you shouldn't need a ton of backing if you're fighting the fish from the handle/butt of the rod (I got a similar recommendation just 2 years ago), and the drag should be pretty tight, just loose enough that you can peel more line out as needed. 

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Congrats Bucko,  when I started getting into bigger fish, one of the best tips I got was to measure my drag pressure.
 

Rig up a rod, hookup line to a scale and pull on it to see how much “weight” you can pull with different rod angles and drag settings.  It takes a surprising amount of force to break 10# leader with a fly rod let a lone 20# or 30#. 
 

Measuring really helped me build confidence in my leaders and knots, but more importantly applying more pressure during the fight.  Depending on the leader, fish, current and structure I have full confidence setting my drag up to 10# on a straight pull.

 

To pull out line, I’ll turn it x number of clicks to loosen the drag, but once I have that line out and ready for casting, I turn it x number of clicks back to fish fighting pressure.


Also check out Andy Mills Fish Fighting videos.  

 

 

 

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Congrats on the fish. Unless you immediately hook into a fish on a hundred-foot cast or you’re land based casting into very heavy current, a 28-inch bass should never put you on the reel. Hell, nothing under 20 pounds should put you on the reel. Just because a fish wants to swim away doesn’t mean you need to give it line. Set the hook, immediately lay into them with the backbone of the rod and strip them in, letting line slip out only to avoid popping the leader. Now a 25/30 pounder? You’ll have no choice. They’re going to force you to let them take a bit of line. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I am new to fishing the salt and was able to fight several fish in the 30 -32" range and some in current and can attest to how the andy mill videos are really helpful. It is a real blast and challenging to land fish that size on a flyrod.  I forget the member that said it, but noted fighting fish on a flyrod is closer to handlining than fishing with other gear.  Just strip them in as Seadog noted, and when they lunge move with them a little or throttle a little line out with your fingers. Bass that size will surge but if you have good pressure on them, it will only be 10-20 feet. Horse em in and release them green.

Edited by puppet

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Tough to get dogmatic about what should and should not get you into backing, there are a lot of variables. I've had 32" fish on a 9 weight come in like a sunfish and 27" fish on an 8 weight on a strong river tide take a good bit of backing after an 80' cast and swing. Of course on my 8 I like an old Rio Mainstream, which is only 80' so I see some of my backing just by casting.  But one thing I notice - you shouldn't be changing your drag settings during a fight. You'll get away with it on schoolies and maybe some slots, but hook something like a big jack or tarpon or even a good size blue in shallow water and you'll be toast. Find that spot where you adjust it to during the fight and just leave it there. 

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Additional thoughts. Letting a fish run shouldn’t be a problem in playing a fish and yes I like to a palm the reel. Green fish can be a problem when removing the hook. Twists in hooksets involving bone, skin and cartilage are clearly a problem if the fish is still thrashing.  A suitably tired fish is calmer and more readily accepts the work involved with removing a hook. Ready to swim away.  You just have to know when a fish is ready and not be overly anxious about the next fish…newbie behavior or maybe a guide who wants to pump numbers.

 

Please don’t tell me 99% of your hooksets are in the corner of the fish's jaw.

Edited by Bucko
clarity

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There are to many variables in fighting a fish to say a certain size fish should never get into your backing . I've had small keeper size fish caught in calm water that don't get close to the backing . On the other hand just the other day I hooked into a striper just below keeper size but it was in an area where the current was ripping through and yes I saw some backing . Nice report Bucko .

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17 hours ago, Bucko said:

Additional thoughts. Letting a fish run shouldn’t be a problem in playing a fish and yes I like to a palm the reel. Green fish can be a problem when removing the hook. Twists in hooksets involving bone, skin and cartilage are clearly a problem if the fish is still thrashing.  A suitably tired fish is calmer and more readily accepts the work involved with removing a hook. Ready to swim away.  You just have to know when a fish is ready and not be overly anxious about the next fish…newbie behavior or maybe a guide who wants to pump numbers.

 

Please don’t tell me 99% of your hooksets are in the corner of the fish's jaw.

There's no reason to fight schoolies to exhaustion regardless how how long you revive them.  A "suitably tired" fish is more likely to be a dead fish.  

 

If your barbs are crushed, removing a fly from a striper shouldnt be work. 

 

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I agree. The only time I play a fish until it is ready to come in is if my intention is to put it on the dinner table. Horsing them in and barbless is the way to go.  Most of the time when i land a fish the fly falls out.

 

Controlling and landing a green fish is an art and involves timing with the flyrod that I am still working on. Sometimes they get away on the land as I introduce some slack. We are releasing these fish anyway, so who cares?  I dont get hung up on fish counts and I honestly feel the practice is juvenile. Really it is the take and fight i am after. I like pushing the limits of the tippet and breaking the will of the fish. I look at it as practice for a future large bass.

 

The biggest mistake I witness is beaching a green fish at the waters edge and have the fish flopping around. Every time a wave touches the fish it activates its flight response. The same thing can happen with landing the fish in the water, but if you lip them quickly you can instantly control them even leaving them in the water.  I am not afraid of being stuck by a barbless fly.  All my years of plugging and bucktailing at night have developed a knack for landing and unhooking green fish in the surf often without turning on a light. 

 

Tips.

 

If possible find soft water to land the fish.

 

Identify where the hook is and lip the fish on the opposite side. This may require switching your landing hand to the less dominant hand.

 

If it is safe, turn your body 3/4 back against the current or wave direction. So if a wave pushes through it does not push the fish into you.

 

Wear gloves. I never liked wearing gloves, but ever since I started wearing gorilla grips plugging I find it a must for handling fish.  those gloves are fantastic and often once i lip a fish it is a death grip hold and have been able to hold and control fish to the mid 30# range without having to get out of the water...or using a lipping device.

 

 

Frankly I see most guys overplay fish. Both spinning and fly.  I also notice some guys using lighter rods down to 7wt....which I am sure is fun and entertaining, but really dont understand it especially in this declining fishery. I am an advocate for stout tackle.  Horse them in..release them green.

Edited by puppet

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Congratulations on some decent fish to you. Make em earn all the line they get. Learn to make a double Bimini Twist in your backing and attach your fly line to it. It’s a great shock absorber and just might prevent you from ever losing a fly line. 

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In Atlantic salmon fishing there is (or at least there was when I was heavily into it) a rule of thumb to safely release a salmon: bring it in within one minute a pound, ie for example a 10lb salmon should be brought in and released in no more than 10 minutes. So each fish (salmon, striper or other ) to be released  should be played tough and brought in as fast as possible.

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