The time that I have spent as a guide I have witnessed many a fish being landed. Some in a timely manner and others not so much. This makes it harder to revive them. My mantra on the whole fish fighting thing is GGG. (Get them on, Get them in, Get them off). Most anglers I see baby the fish way too much, and they do not realize that they can put more pressure on the fish than they think. When using a light leader and tippet, it is important to keep the rod tip up, or bend in the rod. With out the bend in the rod your chance of getting the fish landed in minimal time or even landed at all is not good. With the tip up if the fish wants to pull it down then you must give the fish line. If he pulls the bend out of the rod, or you drop the tip the chance of breaking off are good. Better than good. With bend in the rod you then have shock absorption, if you let the fish pull the rod down to the point where it goes straight then there is no more shock absorption and then you over stress the leader and tippet and you will soon be tying on a new fly. That is also the point where you hear me say “DO NOT” point the rod at the fish, get that tip up. If the fish is coming at you to the point the rod goes soft, then you need to retrieve line to keep steady constant pressure on the fish, so you regain bend in the rod. Steady constant pressure is what lands fish on light gear. Whether they are coming at you or going away.
Another mistake often made when landing a fish is bringing them in too far, or so much line in that the fish is too close to the tip of the rod. When that happens and you lean the rod back to try to net the fish you will be lifting the fish out of the water instead of into the net. A method I see guys use and I am not too fond of, is trying to change the direction of the fish to either wear them down or disorientate them. I watched a client do that one day. I asked him what he was doing. His reply was, “this disorientates the fish and they come in faster”. I asked him how do you know, did some one ask the fish if that is what happens? but whatever works for you works for me. With smaller fly’s that have a small gape tend to pull out easy. The trick to fighting fish on lighter gear is being able to feel the stretch in your leader and tippet. That is why I like to use the longest leader and tippet I can get away with. The longer the leader the more stretch you can get. The more stretch the less chance you have of break off. Now obviously on rivers like Pit River you will need to change the composition of your leader, but the rest of the fighting is the same. Like everything else in fishing, it takes practice to get the fundamentals down. And remember there is no fly-fishing police out there to give you a ticket if you do not do it right.
P.S. on a personal note I would like to thank all my angling friends for thinking of and supporting me during this minor health issue!