How to

Getting Ready For The Big One!


Big fish don’t come easy, which is why you need to ensure you are fully prepared to deal with whatever comes along.

VERY few anglers are content catching small to average fish throughout their fishing lives. While the desire might not be to catch a giant marlin, certainly all of us are after big versions of whatever species we like to catch. Be it trout, flathead, bream or whatever. However, isn’t it always the way that the bigger fish seem to be the ones that get away? Why is this so? There are, in fact, very obvious reasons why really big fish get away. Things like tackle, knots and angler skill are only genuinely tested when a really special fish comes along. Too often, these things are found lacking. The good news is that there are also very simple remedies for reducing the chances of that trophy fish of a lifetime getting away.

I’m a firm believer that whenever you go fishing you should always plan as if the next fish that takes your bait, lure or fly will be a fish of a lifetime. This is because at some stage during your fishing life,  you will hook a fish that, if landed, will be an envious capture by anyone’s standards.

This means that you should always have everything set up so that when the inevitable happens and the big mumma comes along, everything holds together (including you and your skills) and you have the best chance of catching that fish. Preparation involves things like routine tackle maintenance and ensuring that you have correctly tied all the right knots. These simple things will dramatically stack the odds in your favour. 

Good preparation also includes your tackle. Buy the best gear you can afford and ensure it’s designed for the application you wish to use it for. This means that one outfit will not do the job for all kinds of fishing. Other important factors include good quality line and terminal gear (like hooks, swivels, rings etc). These are the items that connect you with that fish of a lifetime. If they fail because they’re no good to start with, then all the skills and other gear will not be of much help to you. Your local specialist tackle shop will be an invaluable assistance buying quality tackle.

Check it
Now, there’s no good doing all this preparatory work if you’re not going to continually assess it. Probably the most common trap we all fall into is failing to regularly inspect tackle during the course of a session. Check your leader each time you catch a fish or get a snag. What you’re looking for are any nicks, abrasion or other damage. If you are even remotely suspicious, snip it off and re-tie it. Also regularly check leader knots. These can be damaged by regularly running through the guides during casting. Check your hooks. Make sure they are sharp and not damaged. I had an experience once night fishing where I kept getting strikes but not hooking up. It took six failed strikes before I had the sense to check the hook, only to find that the barb had broken off!

The drag system is possibly one of the most important features of your reel and yet it is so often not used effectively. This is usually because the fish getting caught don’t test it out. However, when a big fish comes along and the drag has been screwed to lock-up, something has to give. So, hooks pull and line breaks. Sometimes rods break!
The drag is designed so that in a situation where excessive pressure is applied, line is released before anything gives or breaks. However, this is based on it being set correctly to begin with. This means that drags should be pre-set and, once set, shouldn’t be touched. Often an angler’s first reaction to a fish that starts taking line is to screw the drag knob tighter. If the drag has been pre-set correctly to begin with, you should just leave the drag alone. The pre-set pressure will tire the fish out for you. You just need to sit and wait for the fish to stop running.

The general rule of thumb for drag settings is that line should start to come off the reel over a bent rod at about 1/3 the breaking strain of the mainline. So for 15kg line, there should be 5kgs of pressure applied over a bent rod before the drag releases any line. However, creating a suitable drag setting without the use of some formal measuring device is difficult. With a balanced outfit, you can still achieve good results by loading (bending) the rod and setting the drag so that it releases when the rod achieves the optimum working curve. You can do this by tying the line to something fixed, like a tree, and pulling back until the drag releases. If the drag releases when the rod is insufficiently bent, then the drag setting is too light. If the rod bends excessively before the drag releases, then the drag setting is too heavy. The sufficient load means that the drag setting is activated once the rod reaches a smooth and full bend. This test will also allow you to check how smoothly your drag operates. It shouldn’t jerk at all. If it does, take it to your local tackle shop for a service.

Next issue we’ll look at what to do when you hook that fish of a lifetime.

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.