Captain…..What the hell happened? Angler…..My @#@$@$@$ line got caught on my reel! Captain……you’re short cast again, short, recast! ….shit man that’s only 40 feet! What happened? Angler….I stepped on my damn line. Captain….#%$%%#%#%$%. Sound familiar?
Poor line management accounts for more lost fish and lost shots than anything else on the flats! The days and hours we spend perfecting those 60 foot casts, tying the perfect knot, creating the classic fly are worthless if your line can’t get 15 feet out of the boat.
Today I watched my angler who can cast with both hands, has a strong backcast, and can throw 70 ft of line, lose a shot at a double digit Bonefish (a fish of a lifetime) because his line was under his CROC! Yesterday it was on his tackle bag in the cockpit, and the day before it was a tangled fly line. All lost shots that could have been prevented with better line management and attention to detail.
So here it is! A short list of things every angler can do to prevent lost opportunities and the loss of what could be YOUR fish of a lifetime.
1. Pay attention to your line…give it a good stretch both in the morning and mid day. Be sure to take note when the air temps cool, fly lines will often get stiff and coil. It MUST be re-stretched.
2. Don’t pull more than 12 feet of excess line off the reel than you can cast. If your max casting distance is 40 ft take 52 feet off the reel instead of 80. Too much extra line on the deck is trouble waiting to happen.
3. Clear your fly line with a cast and neatly stack/coil that line on the deck or into the casting basket as you strip it back in so that the fly line clears “clean” when the fish is hooked and running.
4. Be sure to strip line back into the boat or casting basket when preparing to recast.
5. Keep the fly in hand when you are not casting. A dragging fly has the uncanny ability to pick up grass and other unwanted items. Its tough to feed fish a fly with grass hanging all over it. Be sure to leave about 9 feet of fly line out of the tip of the rod while you wait to cast. DO NOT have the leader in the guides.
6. Go barefoot! I know… I know…”my feet will get burnt.” (that’s what sunscreen and socks are for…toughen up!) Bare feet allow you to feel the line when its under foot. If you must wear footwear make sure it doesn’t have clips and other items on it for your fly line to catch on.
7. Make sure all your tackle bags and any other gear is stowed in storage or pushed to the back of the cockpit before you step onto the bow of the boat.
Watch that line….catch that fish!