How to Fight and Land Fish with a Fly Rod

This post was last updated on February 4th, 2018 at 08:31 pm

Having trouble fighting and landing fish with fly fishing gear? In this article I’ll go over the basics of how to land a majority of the fish you hook. There are a number of things you can do to increase your ratio of landed fish. In this quick article I’m going to make a number of bullet points, and elaborate a bit on each. This past fall I went out and filmed a video about this very subject. I’ll post that at the end of this article. Keeping your rod upright like this is important to landing fish of all sizes

Tips to Help you Land More Fish While Flyfishing

  • Keep your rod upright: A rod that is held too low will likely pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth. If your rod is pointed towards the fish, it means the fish is fighting a very stiff lower section of the rod. If you hold your fly rod more vertically, the limber tip will suppress the pulling and erratic action of the hard fighting fish.
  • Keep tension on: Never let your fish get complete slack. This will make it easy for the fish to shake its head and pop out the hook. Perhaps one of the most common ways that people lose big fish with a fly fishing setup is to allow slack line.
  • If the fish is coming at you, strip as fast as possible to take up the line: Keep pulling to get that line tight ASAP! I see examples of this all the time. If the fish is swimming towards you, you’ll never know if its there or not until you either see your flies, see the fish, or feel the tugging. People seem to assume the fish is gone when it swims at them fast, as long as you got a decent hookset–You still have a chance!
  • Don’t pull too hard!: Yes of course you want that fish landed ASAP, especially if it’s big. But rushing it and pulling to hard to get it to the net is a bad idea. Relax and take it easy. If you get too pushy, either the hook will tear the fish’ mouth or you’ll break the line. There are times when you’ll need to pull very hard, but if the fish is out in open water…take your time.
  • Try to get the fish on the reel, but don’t give it slack when you do: Learning how to get a fish onto the reel without allowing any slack line is something you should practice. I’ll give you a few tips on how to pull this off in the video at the end of this article.
  • Don’t let the fish get near objects during the fight: Big trout will go straight for heavy cover where they can try to wrap up your line and break you off. Anticipate where you think the fish is heading and turn it well in advance to foil his evil plans.
  • Don’t try to net the fish until its head is up: I’m going to do an article and video soon about how to properly net fish, but the number one mistake you can make is to try netting a fish from behind it, or when its head is not at or above the surface of the water.
  • If you’re in a boat, stick the rod way out so line doesn’t rub: Holding your rod tip parallel to the water and way out from the boat will prevent the line from rubbing on the boat. It will also encourage the fish to move out a bit so you’ll have better netting opportunities.
  • Lift your arm high: The higher your arm is, the more control you’ll have to steer the fish where you want it.

Following these simple guidelines is sure to help you fight and land more fish with your fly rod. Learning how to fight fish with a fly rod is an important skill that is much more tricky than with spinning gear. Watch the video below to see all of the above tips and more in action.