The Slip-and-Grab Fish Landing Technique

The Slip-and-Grab Fish Landing Technique

We've all been there . . . you have the best trout of the day hooked up, but you don't have a net. Maybe it's in your drift boat, maybe your buddy took it upriver, or maybe you just don't own one. (Nets are easy to handle in a boat, but they are a major hassle if your've got any amount of hiking and bush-whacking to do.)

In any event, you are by yourself, you've got a big trout but no net, so how do you land the fish?

First, don't consider "beaching" the fish in a shallow rocky or sandy area. It works sometimes in the right water with the right fisherman, but in general, it's extremely hard on fish as they thrash in the shallow water, often knocking their heads.

The goal should be to bring the fish close in slower, knee-deep water and grab the trout or steelhead by the tail or gently under the belly. To lever the trout close, however, too many people raise the rod high overhead, or even pull the rod backward over their shoulder to bring the fish close enough to grab. This rod position makes me shudder whenever I see it, as even a moderate amount of tension at a bad rod angle has snapped thousands of rods.


www.joemahler.com
To land a large fish, don't drag it onto a rocky beach, and don't raise the rod high into the "danger zone" (as shown here) while under pressure. Thousands of rods break this way. Grace Smith photo

When I fished in Alaska in August and September 2014 at Big Ku Lodge and at Royal Wolf Lodge, I quickly learned how to land large trout safelywithout beaching them and without breaking the rodas the lodges' owner Chris Branham does not allow his guests or guides to use nets. He feels that nets are hard on the fish as they remove protective slime.


I call the technique the slip and grab, and once you've got it mastered, you'll find it's a quick and easy way to bring big trout to hand.

1) Once you've got the trout exhausted and about a rod-length away from you, you'll need to pinch the line under the index finger of your rod hand and strip about 10 feet of slack line from the reel. (I know, you just reeled that line on there while fighting the fish, but you'll need this slack to save the rod and land that fish.)

2) Quickly raise the rod high to the "breaking position" but you won't break your rod because you'll instead allow the slack line to slip under your index finger, taking all the pressure off the rod tip. The quick combination of pulling the rod high and slipping the line will cause the tip of the fly line or the leader butt to slap you in the chest.

3) Grab the line or leader with your opposite hand and carefully hand-line the fish toward you until you can tail it or support it under the belly to remove the fly.


When you've got the trophy of the day hooked up, it takes some courage to let that slack line slip through your fingers and take the bend out of your rod, but I did this on hundreds of large trout in a two-week period, using exclusively barbless hooks, and I didn't lose a single fish during the slip-and-grab process.

I lost many trout of course, and quite a few right at the end when I was hand-lining the trout, but I never broke a rod, and the trout were released with as little harm as possible.

Thanks to Ryan Davey of Primal Angler for shooting this short video on an extremely remote Alaskan trout stream.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Huk Waypoint Collection

Huk Waypoint Collection

Huk's new Waypoint Collection fishing apparel is conservation-minded by using recycled water bottles.

Tying the Double Barrel Popper

Tying the Double Barrel Popper

All these tricks can be put to use on poppers or sliders for anything with fins, from panfish to billfish.

What

What's Next for ASA & ICAST?

American Sportfishing Association president talks ICAST, coronavirus and the fishing industry.

Costa Ferg Sunglasses

Costa Ferg Sunglasses

Costa's Todd Barker reveals the features of the new Costa Ferg sunglasses, a best-of-category winner at ICAST 2020.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

These tips can save you heartache when fishing is hot. Beginners

How to Remove Wind Knots and Snarls from Leaders and Tippet

Jay Nichols - June 09, 2020

These tips can save you heartache when fishing is hot.

Here are seven important strategies from some of the world's best nymph fishermen. Beginners

7 Tips for Rigging Your Nymphs like a Pro

George Daniel - March 11, 2019

Here are seven important strategies from some of the world's best nymph fishermen.

Best Panfish Flies Flies

Best Panfish Flies

Skip Morris

Best Panfish Flies

The push for native trout preservation is at the forefront of fisheries management in the West. Trout

Rainbow Trout Suppression on the South Fork of the Snake River

Boots Allen - June 25, 2020

The push for native trout preservation is at the forefront of fisheries management in the West.

See More Trending Articles

More Editor's Notebook

Olympic Pole Vaulter May be the Perfect Fishing Partner Editor's Notebook

Olympic Pole Vaulter May be the Perfect Fishing Partner

Ross Purnell, Editor - June 10, 2016

Olympic Pole Vaulter May be the Perfect Fishing Partner

Mark Engler's Quest to Hunt and Fish Every Day Editor's Notebook

Mark Engler: The Man Who Created the WD-40

Ross Purnell, Editor - October 22, 2015

Mark Engler's Quest to Hunt and Fish Every Day

Watch as Giant Trevally engulf Terns. Worldwide

Giant Trevally Eating Terns

Ross Purnell, Editor - October 24, 2017

Watch as Giant Trevally engulf Terns.

Sea Run Brown Trout Editor's Notebook

Rio Grande Sea Run Brown Trout

Ross Purnell, Editor - September 30, 2016

Sea Run Brown Trout

See More Editor's Notebook

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now