Netting/Hand-lining bigger fish
by Pete (UK)
Big net, small fish!
This is my second submission to ‘Your Tenkara Stories’ in just a few days, but my request for information about tippet knot breakages was so comprehensively answered that I thought I’d go ahead and seek enlightenment on my other Tenkara bugbear: actually getting the bigger fish into the net.
On my Daiwa Keiryu X 42 (13’8”) I generally use a level line + tippet set-up of around 2-3 feet longer than the rod and bringing small and medium fish to net usually goes OK, particularly as the net I’m currently using is a cheap conventional fly-fishing model, which is about twice the size of typical Tenkara nets (so gives me a longer reach). However, with bigger Trout (15 inch plus) the fun really starts, and when I say “fun” I mean that if anyone had recorded some of these incidents and put them on Youtube I’m sure they’d have attracted massive audiences (and widespread derision).
As I see it, the bigger fish, especially in strong currents, put such a bend on the rod that, even after playing them out and trying to bring them into calmer water, they’re still too far away to net directly, which leaves me with no alternative but to attempt the dreaded hand-lining technique. In the past couple of weeks I reckon I’ve lost 60% of the fish I’ve tried to hand-line to the net and when you add this to the fish I lost through tippet to level line knot breakages (thankfully now solved by this blog) it’s getting a bit frustrating… I should add that I only use barbless hooks.
One beautiful specimen of around 20 inches was so close to me that I almost felt like scooping him up in my arms, but just as I reached for the net with my left hand (I was holding the tippet in my right) he thrashed on the surface and broke the tippet, this time at the clinch knot connecting the fly to the tippet, and was gone. Perhaps I was holding onto the tippet too hard? Then just yesterday, a somewhat smaller fish actually swam towards me and between my legs (I was wading so maybe he thought I was a tree root) at the last moment and, in the ensuing confusion, managed to wriggle free.
I’m very new to Tenkara and it’s only by complete chance that the rivers I’m currently located near (western Catalunya, Spain) happen to hold such large numbers of bigger than average Brown Trout. Next week I’m returning to my home city of Sheffield (UK) and rivers where anything in double figures (inches) is considered a very decent fish, but I’ll be visiting Catalunya on a regular basis and will no doubt find myself facing the hand-lining dilemma again. Is it just a case of practice makes perfect or are there any special tips I need to know?
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma