“To play him long is to play him wrong” redux

Glass houses, stones, and all that. So this week when I hooked into a 20+” Survivor Strain brown on the Farmington, I started the clock. 93 seconds — hand-stripped, no reel — from hook set to net. (And it was only that long because I had trouble fitting him into the net first swipe.)

Unfortunately, I had camera disasters. I was using my main shooter for a different project earlier in the day and hadn’t changed the setting, so I ended up with out-of-focus mush. Then I attempted a GoPro movie of the release, only to discover that the battery was dead. So you’ll have to use your imagination: kype, clipped adipose, leopard spotting, brawny, and no match for an angler with a sharp hook and a reliable leader.

6 comments on ““To play him long is to play him wrong” redux

  1. Mike says:

    Now thats the way to Whip Em.
    Nicely done.

  2. Steve M. says:

    Nice job hand stripping a large fish and not getting all tangled up in the retrieved line. That’s what would cause me to use the reel by just spinning it not reeling.
    Missed my long handled net last night on a couple of decent Brown’s, but the 5wt and 5x allowed me to move them around pretty well.
    Lots and Lottsa fishermen out on the water!

    • Steve Culton says:

      I hear you on the line tangle potential. For me, somehow it never seems to factor in. I did the hand strip not to prove a point, but because I got excited after I set the hook and could tell that it was a big fish. Once I had him halfway in I thought I could go reel-less fastest.

      I’ve been avoiding the crowds these days…

      • Peter Varkala says:

        Saying. I typically hand strip 90 percent of the time. I’d rather get a large fish to net quickly before it shakes/breaks off, and have found strip retrieve to work well for me. Also I’ve often lost fish in that split second of tension loss between changing grip, re-positioning myself, or going to reel and have personally found the odds of landing a fish quickly by hand to go in my favor.

        I also think something may be said for getting a fish in while it’s still disoriented and hasn’t quite figured out what’s going on. Allowing the fish time to gain it’s balance and set into a sort of defensive stance may only make it more difficult to bring to net as time goes on

      • Steve Culton says:

        Thanks for your comments, Peter. I rarely put trout on the reel. Some stripers over 30″ go there, and virtually every steelhead. The fish is the one that usually makes the decision.

        I don’t think I’ve ever lost a fish due to tension loss during a hand-to-reel transfer. I’ve lost steelhead in the transition because my drag was too tight, but that’s a different matter and I’ve resolved to correct it.

        You last point is sound in theory and I’ve gotten some decent fish in ridiculously fast when the planets have aligned. I’ve generally forgotten about that concept with steelhead. There’s a moment or two when you think you can just strip that fish in; then it realizes that it’s hooked, and you can forget any fantasies you had about hand stripping.

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