Clear the Decks: Keeping Clear Fly Lines

Okay, so you have set the hook on your first fish in the salt. Now What? It is time to clear your fly line. When fishing for powerful, fast running saltwater fish, this task may seem straight- forward and simple, but it happens fast and many things can go wrong. To ensure a smooth operation, follow this checklist:

First, hold the line with tension, but not too tight. You need to provide resistance without breaking the tippet or causing the line to jerk erratically.

Next, separate your hands and watch the fly line. Keep your eyes focused on what your line is doing, not the fish. Make certain you are not stepping on your fly line or that it is not wrapped around anything.

When the line is almost cleared by the running fish, maintain control and deliver the line back to the reel. Do not let go. An early release will usually cause a small loop of fly line to wrap around the butt or reel handle. When I am fishing lighter tackle for bonefish or redfish, I turn my rod slightly so my reel handle is pointed up. This helps to reduce to possibility of this happening. For tarpon and other big game fish that are not surrounded by line grabbing objects like crab pots, buoys or mangroves, I usually submerge my rod tip in the water. This helps slow everything down. If the fish starts hauling the mail toward the boat, he or she is dragging fly line, which keeps tension on the hook. This is also effective with smaller, speedy game fish.

If a knot starts to run through your guides, point the rod at the fish. This may allow the knot to slide right through the tiptop. Let the knot be or be one with the knot until you release the fish. I don't recommend trying to get it out while fighting a fish.

A clean, slick fly line will slide through the guides easier and be less likely to tangle and knot up than a dirty line. Clean your fly lines often.

Watch this slow motion video to see how to keep clear fly lines.

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