The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 39 - July 27, 2016

reel time

Angler's motto: Be prepared

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun

A well prepared fly fisherman will be ready when the opportunity
presents itself.

For many anglers, a day on the water is hard won. These days are often too widely spaced, and not enough attention is paid to preparation before we grab our gear, put it on the boat and head out. This can mean we forget to check the basic components that can make or break a potentially successful fishing trip.

A solution is to have a check list to follow before you ever head out to make the first cast. With a little due diligence, we can avoid the mistakes that cause you to lose fish. These mistakes can be easily avoided.

The hook is one of the most important components of an effective rig. It's also one of the easiest things to forget to check. A hook can be razor sharp the last time you used it and can become dulled with contact to the rub rail of the boat, objects in the water, guides and many other things.

Test it every time you step to the bow and you'll have a better chance at landing your catch. Check the hook on your fingernail. If you put it there and it doesn't slip, you'll know it's sharp enough. In any case, it's a good idea to have a hook sharpener on hand and touch up the point several times during your outing.

Knots are probably the second leading reason fish are lost. Even the best tied knot will break if it's not tightened well. You may tie perfect knots, but there's a chance they could loosen between trips. Always make sure you moisten knots before tightening them, and draw them up very tight. The first place a leader will break is at a knot when it slips.

Checking the drag is, of course, one of the most important things you can do. Make sure your drag is smooth. I would suggest having the drag set so you don't have to touch it while fighting a fish. You'll know if it needs attention if there's any jerking motion when line leaves the spool.

Checking leader and line for nicks and abrasion is another must. It's easy to cut off a small section of leader and re-tie than to lose a good fish to an imperfect line. Fly anglers should always stretch their fly line before making the first presentation of the day. Fly line has memory and will come off the spool in small loops that can tangle easily, causing you to break off a fish. Strip off the line you'll be casting, make a cast and gently stretch it as you retrieve it. It doesn't hurt to repeat the process during the day.

Each time you step to the bow make sure your knots are tight, the drag is properly set, hooks are sharp, leaders are abrasion free and fly line is stretched. You'll find it will make a big difference during your fishing day. On the days you find willing fish, you don't want to end up with pulled hooks or a break off because you didn't check your drag or leader.

While you'll always lose fish, even when everything is right, you'll definitely have a better chance if you develop and follow a simple check list. Sharp hook, smooth leader, properly set drags, stretched line and tight properly secured knots. Tight lines!

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper