Playing a Fish
Holding the fish after it is hooked, and successfully tiring it out so that it can be landed, is the subject that is not given enough attention by writers on angling, for the novice will often get as many strikes as the veteran fisherman, sometimes more, but if he does not know how to "play" the fish under all conditions he will lose many, and it is a regrettable fact that it is invariably the big one that gets away.
The manner of hooking the fish is usually a quick twitch of the rod, being a movement of the wrist and forearm only, but this depends on the kind of fishing, for in still fishing the fish either hook themselves or the act of hooking and lifting from the water is all in one movement. When reeling in an artificial bait, using a short rod, the rod should be held at an angle of about twenty degrees. If held higher you may break the tip when you hook the fish. Even in still fishing there is no need of roughness and it is not necessary to yank the fish up into a tree-top or fling it back into the field above the bank. All that is needed is to keep a steady, taut line, and a quick twitch to set the hook, and a steady lift to draw the fish from his element is sure to yield a larger catch of fish. In still fishing the large ones are often lost by an unnecessarily hard yank on the rod, which breaks or springs the hook, or tears it out of the fish's mouth when it has not caught well.
But it is only the heavy, strong tackle used in still fishing that will allow of lifting the fish bodily from the water. The light tackle used for fly or bait casting could not be used this way, and this fishing would riot be nearly so enjoyable if we pulled the fish out by main strength — the pleasure of such fishing is mainly in endeavoring to tire the fish by the action of the rod and reel, so that it can be safely landed, and in circumventing in a sportsmanlike way the fish's efforts to escape. The lighter the tackle used the more enjoyable this is, and the more sport it affords, but there is always a limit to the lightness of the tackle when safety and practical use are considered. Fishing on lakes and other quiet, clear water, where the fish has plenty of room to run, you can use lighter tackle than in a place where you must hold the fish away from snags, weeds, etc., and here the strong current helps him out. The strike or act of setting the hook, is done with the right hand, but the rod must be changed to the left hand instantly when the fish moves nearer and gives a slack line so that the slack can be reeled up with the right hand and the left hand can spool the line evenly on the reel.
Brooks, Lake. The Science of Fishing. Columbus, OH: A.R. Harding, 1912. Print.
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