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How do fish get away?

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Paul Arden
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How do fish get away?

#1

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 10, 2021 3:43 pm

I’d love to know how fish manage to throw the hook sometimes. I can only assume they eat, close their mouths, run like hell, open their mouths and the fly pops out. In other words it wasn’t hooked in the first place.

The problem is, if you strike on that first run you’re likely to pull the fly out their mouths. But maybe I have to try this again.

I sometimes go through a patch with Snakehead where I just can’t seem to make them stick. I’ve tried not giving tension on the eat, so that the fish doesn’t panic, but instead eats the fly and then after a suitable delay to strike, but this all happens in milliseconds and by the time you can react sometimes (just to give slack) the fish has panicked and is tearing off.

I do still believe however that this is sometimes the answer and it’s been successful before.

I don’t know. It’s frustrating sometimes! Any thoughts, suggestions? :)

Thanks!!
Paul
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Mangrove Cuckoo
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Re: How do fish get away?

#2

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Wed Mar 10, 2021 4:18 pm

Paul,

I have found that much depends on the fish. Do they eat on the run, or sit and chew?

How long before the fly is spit if you don't instill panic?

And how does the fish eject the fly?
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

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Re: How do fish get away?

#3

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 10, 2021 6:17 pm

Good questions Gary!

I’m stripping poppers and the take is explosive. They normally grab and then if there is slack they will slow down – and swallow I suppose. However if there is tension they go hard from the get-go.

I never strike immediately on the eat if I’m stripping (that just pulls the hook out). Usually I carry on stripping until I feel the weight and then it’s nuts (this is how I fish streamers and surface muddlers for trout). If I manage to give slack, or they take the fly and swim directly at me, creating the same, then after a 4-5 seconds I strike and this works just fine.

However the problem is when they eat and I’m stripping, they feel the tension and panic. Then it’s a 50/50 hook up. Sometimes they all set. Sometimes they all spit. I’ve tried releasing from the line hand during the strip if they eat, but this is incredibly hard to do. The few times I’ve been successful doing this I have landed the fish.

Maybe they are biting on it and not engulfing it? And with slack they adjust to eat it, which with a suitable pause sets in the mouth. Or maybe they are biting without the intention of eating, which I don’t think so.

The ejection is 4-5 seconds after the eat. Big solid pull. And then off. It’s almost like they’ve grabbed it, closed their mouth, bolt 30-40ft, open their mouths and the hook falls out. That’s what I think is happening.

I think I have two things I can try (1) really work to give slack on the eat and always strike after 5 seconds (2) try setting during the run - like with Sailfish? There are only so many options I can think of and it’s pretty hard to do them when it’s happening :D

Cheers, Paul
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Re: How do fish get away?

#4

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 10, 2021 6:21 pm

Incidentally with buoyant flies and no tension I generally find fish will attempt to swallow the fly. Boobies, suspender buzzers, floating fry and... (soft foam) poppers! But with tension it’s a different story. That’s why I think slack line works, but you have to be careful that they don’t actually swallow it of course because that’s not good for the fish and you might lose a finger. :)
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Re: How do fish get away?

#5

Post by Tangled » Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:07 pm

Mangrove Cuckoo wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 4:18 pm
And how does the fish eject the fly?
They open their mouth and quickly close their gill covers and it pumps the object out.
Works in reverse too.

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Re: How do fish get away?

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:35 pm

Yep but what amazes me is that they can pull with such strength and yet the hook doesn’t set. That I find quite baffling. Ashly nearly got pulled out the boat by one. :D
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Re: How do fish get away?

#7

Post by Tangled » Wed Mar 10, 2021 10:06 pm

Paul Arden wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:35 pm
Yep but what amazes me is that they can pull with such strength and yet the hook doesn’t set. That I find quite baffling. Ashly nearly got pulled out the boat by one. :D
Yeh, it's a puzzle.

Fish that you feel that really hard pull from but don't stick you think must have just caught skin and pulled out. But we've all had well hooked fish and played them and they've still come off. How can you play a salmon hooked solidly on a barbed treble for 10 minutes and then it just 'drops off'? Beats me.

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Re: How do fish get away?

#8

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 10, 2021 10:50 pm

I really don’t know. What I find remarkable about these fish is just how strong their jaws are. If they don’t want to let you in there is no way you can. They only time you can get the forceps in sometimes is if they breathe, and then you get the boga in quick too! Maybe they just bite down really hard on the wire. Either that or they have the fly in the front teeth/lips possibly with the hook laying flat...

It’s bizarre really. I tried to deal with it two years ago with a tandem fly. But that didn’t make any difference and then when I had a fish that managed to get hooked both top and bottom of the mouth I stopped using them.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: How do fish get away?

#9

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Wed Mar 10, 2021 11:36 pm

There is an odd-looking saltwater fish available here called a Trippletail. They are a very curious critter, and wonderful on the table. They have very strong jaws and a personality to go along with it. It is not uncommon to fight them for quite a while, even up to the boat, and then have them simply let go of the fly or jig and swim off. Apparently, they have only been holding on to the fly and not willing to give it back.

They are the only fish I commonly chase that I will deliberately "hammer" the hook home. All others I just hold tight... including tarpon.

By using this "no-set" technique I can humbly say my hook-up to landing ratio on small tarpon is exceptional. The trade off has been that I now lose a small percentage to leader breakage. The little ones are simply so manic when they feel the hook that I sometimes get caught holding on to the line a microsecond too long. There is a little more to this than just not doing anything, of course, like hook selection and fly shape, but I've got it down to the point that I can be a real pain in the ass when others fish for little tarpon with me. :laugh:

Snook have strong jaws and rough lips. Apparently they can clamp down on the bite tippet strong enough that weak hook sets simply clue them that something is wrong... and they release. The leader comes back all scratched up a couple inches above the fly, but the remainder and the fly are pristine. A curious case with a large snook and a small fly is to simply not do anything at all. If they do not get scared, they will simply determine the fly is not food and try to eject it... out their gills. The resulting "hook up" is the hook bend finds a home around a gill raker... which is a win-win as their is no blood and no chance the fish can get off.

If you do some research you will find that different fish have different methods for eating. Snook (and probably Snakeheads, if the local subspecies is characteristic) are vacuum feeders. While other species simply over-run their prey with their large mouth open. Tarpon are more of the latter. There are other methods, but those two are pertinent to what I fish.

If you determine how the fish feed you will have a foot up on how to hook 'em.
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

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Re: How do fish get away?

#10

Post by Graeme H » Wed Mar 10, 2021 11:45 pm

Paul Arden wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:35 pm
Yep but what amazes me is that they can pull with such strength and yet the hook doesn’t set. That I find quite baffling. Ashly nearly got pulled out the boat by one. :D
They have a strong bite pressure. If the fly is completely inside their mouth and the line end of the popper is snug against their jaw, they can pull as hard as they like without the point of the hook embedding in flesh.

It's only when they open their mouth that the hook point has a chance to hit flesh, and if they lucky, the hook point hits nothing on the way out.

Cheers,
Graeme
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