Fishing Tips - Alaska Fly Out

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Swingers Handbook - A Quick Guide To Tip Control

By Lee Kuepper

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The perfect presentation of a swung fly relies heavily on tip control. It's so easy to get caught up in perfecting your cast that you fail to analyze the most important part of the process, the swing. Controlling the tip of your rod directly impacts the speed and depth at which your fly is coming across the river. Regardless of how well you cast, or how far you can shoot line, an improperly presented fly will almost always be denied attention.

Master Your Flies Depth and Speed

After your cast has hit the water, your tip will immediately govern the potential depth that your fly could reach. If not adjusted after the cast, the path of your fly may stay relatively flat and high in the water column. The sink tip or weighted fly will only sink freely if given the time to dead drift. The more slack you give the line, the more time you give the fly to sink. In some circumstances stripping line off the reel may be necessary, allowing the fly to reach the deepest level possible.

On the contrary, if you want the fly to stay high in the water column, placing a downstream bow in the line will speed up the swing and pull your fly towards the surface. The important thing to remember here is that as long as your line is not under tension from the current it will freely sink. As soon as the line comes under tension however, the sink rate will not remain the same and in some instances your fly will loose depth.

Expand Your Turf

I use tip control on a regular basis to dictate the area that I am covering during my swing. I can extend my drift by sweeping the rod tip all the way though to the opposite side, or truncate a drift by holding the rod tip out towards the casting direction. Sometimes simply pausing a swung fly briefly mid-drift can entice a few grabs.

Keep in mind though, the further you have the rod extended to the side of your body, the less power you will have on the hook set. So make sure the fish has turned on the fly before lifting that tip. You lift it, you lose it!

Make It Dance

One of my staple nuances during the swing is imparting action into my fly. For some reason, I just don't feel confident in a swing without movement. Pop the tip to add a little jump to your baitfish, or even apply a side-to-side motion to skate a surface bug. Mimic, experiment, and explore new ways to impart movement in your drift. You will often be rewarded.

The Takehome

Don't get stuck in the typical down and across rut. Analyze each drift individually and start finding yourself toe-to-toe with the fish that you never even knew were there.

4 Tips for Landing Big Fish

By Lee Kuepper

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Congrats, you are elbow deep into the biggest fish of your life. The set was good, the first run did not completely spool you, and his head is turned back upriver. It's now time for the battle. A dirty, one-on-one, fist vs. fin fight, that will test your stamina both physically and mentally. Akin to any epic battle throughout history, the most prepared will generally prevail.

Here are my top 4 tips that will put more tails in your hands than tears.

1. Know your gear. Understanding the amount of pressure you can put on a fish, and the amount of power that is applied by each click for your drag knob, is critical in getting more big fish to hand. Worry not, there is a quick shortcut to knowing your gear and it can be done anywhere. Start by rigging your rod exactly as it would be on the water, except for the fly. Lash the tippet onto something sturdy (ball hitches are perfect) and back up about 30 feet. Slowly start increasing your drag while pulling on the rod. The goal here is to find the point at which your drag tension will cause the leader to break. Mastering this variable will allow you to know exactly how much pressure you can put into the fish. It is always surprising how tight you can keep your drag without breaking the leader. I can't stress enough how important this is when battling leviathans such as king salmon.

2. Use your butt. Don't work harder than the fish. Just because you are sweating, it doesn't mean the fish is. The take home message here kids is that the higher your rod tip goes in the air, the less pressure the fish feels. Really winching down on a big fish is best done with the rod bent at an angle less than 45 degrees from the butt of the rod. The moment the rod passes 45 degrees, you start working harder and accomplishing less. So when a heavy hand is needed, buckle down, drop your tip low and to the side, and start using the powerful butt section of your rod.

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3. Know his moves before he does. A big fish will almost always take some major head-shaking runs downstream. This big surge is usually accompanied by a state of panic, leaving the angler rushed to try and stop him.

Remember that stuff underneath your fly line, and how much of it you put on? That's what it is there for. Let that fish run a bit. Regardless of how brawny and chrome the fish is, it still needs to turn up river to breathe. In my experience, reducing the amount of pressure you are putting on a fish during a big run will most often result in the fish turning around in a more expeditious fashion. He needs to breathe, so slow your roll, ease up, and encourage him turn around.

4. Be prepared to throw your tip in the water. When that fish finally turns around and starts surging back in your direction faster than you can recover, throw your tip in the water and keep reeling. The current will pull your fly line taught against the fish, while you try and recover the slack. Do not stop reeling or stripping until you come tight with the fish, or at least pick up enough line to hook up your rod and proceed to cry in the back of the boat.

Be sure to check back with us in future posts, where we will go further in detail on each one of these tips. As always, If you enjoyed this article please share it.

Lee Kuepper is professional guide now calling the Kenai River home. He is a co-owner of Alaska's Angling Addiction, chasing the Kenai's monster kings and fabled trout on a regular basis. He is also a member of Loop USA's prostaff and a Certified Fly Casting Instructor through the FFF.

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