Southwestern Montana's Premier Fly Fishing Guide Service

Fly Fishing Line Management

Thursday, September 10, 2015

One of the keys to having a successful day on the water is making the most of all available chances you might have on the water. Managing your line is one of the most important things you can do to help your odds in landing that trophy trout.

The Basics  

The ABC’s are cast, pinch, mend.  

  1. Make your cast on the water.
  2. Pinch the line on the cork with your rod hand.
  3. Mend your line.  

Here's where problems start to happen:

  • The angler holds their line in their non rod hand. This is fine until a fish hits and the angler moves to set the hook by lifting the rod and moving their non rod hand away from their body. At the point when the two arms are away from one another, there is no solution to stripping line in efficiently and keeping tension on the line to prevent the fish from shaking loose.

We've seen people putting the line in their teeth or drop the line in their non rod hand. We've also seen people drop the rod and grab the fly line and hand line the trout in, not the preferred way of landing a trout. Try to remember that slack in the line provides the fish the ultimate advantage. Once they have slack they can manipulate the fly and look to spit it out. A tight line on the other hand keeps that fly anchored to the fish.



The most successful way to land a fish on the line is to:

  1. Make sure you anchor the line under your rod hand.
  2. Use your trigger finger or middle finger to allow the line to move freely between your finger and the cork of the rod.
  3. When a fish strikes pinch the line tightly against the cork of the rod.
  4. Bring the rod to an upright 12 or 1 o’clock position. This immediately takes the slack out of the line and gets you tight to the fish.
  5. Having the line pinched on your rod hand you can reach up and grab the line from behind your pinch point and the reel and  retrieve line or let the fish take line out under pressure.  
  6. By keeping this anchor point you will have more control of your line and better pressure on your catch. The only time to release your anchor point is when a trout makes a big run and takes out all the slack line you have at your feet. There are sometimes where the trout is at the standstill and if you have time to reel in your slack you can fish off the reel.  


Next Steps:

If you suffer from the split hand fishing and are losing your opportunities, try managing your line with our recommended steps.

Learn more about Fly Fishing Line Mending.


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