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Tight Lines Over 20'?

Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby GregM » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:54 am

I have recently noticed references to level and furled lines of 20' to 40'. I could make very effective use of longer lines, but when I give them a try I frequently loose fish because I can't keep the line tight when they make a run directly towards me.

With a short line (20' total of line and tippet on an Amago) I am able to hold the rod high to maintain tension, especially essential during the fast and furious initial runs. Once things slow down and I'm in hand-line mode line length is not an issue. But that first straight in run on a long line has me baffled.

Tips or Tricks much appreciated.

Thanks.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby pechelman » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:13 am

i loose a good number of fish, because of the same problem on a very similar setup
amago / ~18' of #4 / 4-6' of tippet or on my ito with a similar length of lines

generally speaking, the fish i loose most are on narrow rivers where i'm fishing nearly straight or quartered upstream, but it also happens on bigger water when im presenting in a narrow faster seam of water in any direction except downstream.

only thing that has worked, is for me to have an area behind me to immediately walk\run\jump\etc away from the fish
ie, not always possible.

The other thing that has worked, is fishing with a shorter line, though thats not always possible, especially this time of the year with such skinny water\spooky fish.

besides fishing with some barb or trying different shaped hooks, i'm not sure what else to say.
its made me wish on occasion I had the ability to strip in some line and made me think about trying to run the line up through the center of the rod.

in the meantime, ill join you in waiting for some of the other guys using long lines to chime in.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby John @ Tenkara USA » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:34 am

I fish fairly long lines a lot, but usually not much over 20'. One thing I've found helpful, and this is contrary to normal fish fighting tactics, is to actually encourage the fish to get downstream of me, that way the current helps keep the line tight. Obviously, this is easier with small fish but can work with larger fish if you have some calm water below you. I landed my biggest brown in Gallatin Canyon this way, but I did have some nice slow water downstream.

Also, longer lines make it easier to fish without wading aggressively, which makes it easier to move around and back away from a charging fish. I have more trouble with long lines when I'm wading in a tough spot than when I'm walking a nice even bank or gravel bar. My friend Brian almost never wears waders or wades and it doesn't seem to hurt him.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby Tenkara Guides » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:41 pm

The Tenkara Guides crew fish with long lines quite a bit and what works best for me is to get the line into your hands as quickly as possible and hand line the fish in. Hand lining long lines is not the easiest skill to master but once you start to get it down, it is really fun and challenging. Hopefully EriK or Rob will chime in with some specific technique hints.

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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby John @ Tenkara USA » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:24 pm

I agree. The sooner you get your hands on the line the better. The worst thing that can happen is the rods takes of and gets back on the rod. I also agree about the fun part; it's pretty cool to see a fish jumping while you're holding on to the line with your hands and you can feel every flop in the air.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby tsegelke » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:39 pm

For playing fish with long lines, my hands work as the drag or tension of playing the fish. When it runs, I let line out, when not running, I bring line in to keep the tension. With a long lines, you have the possibility of the fish running toward you creating the slack, raise the rod, move to create tension, pull the line in as quickly as you can by hand, or dive in and wrestle them into your net. I don't wrestle as well as I used to.

My experience, even with western style, is this was still a challenge when fishing long distances.

Practice makes on more proficient.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby erik.ostrander » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:06 am

Big lines are for big open areas on big rivers (or lakes). They have no place anywhere else.

That being said . . .

Furled lines stretch, and protect tippet, so I'll second everyone else's suggestion about getting the line in your hand ASAP. Use strong tippet, I recommend 4x with a long furled line. Yank that fish in. If it's a big fish that you can't get your hands on the line quickly, then be prepared to run to keep the line tight. The key is to put lots of pressure to compensate for the stretch of the long furled line, so the hook stays in the fish's mouth.

Also, for long furled lines, I very often fish them downstream, swinging softies or a streamer. When the fish gets hooked it has to swim upstream, which is my power position.


For long level lines above 25' (or 2.0 the length of the rod, L, whichever is greater)- wow. Most anything above 20-25' (or >2.0L) or so is pretty hard to cast. So, if you can effectively cast a line that long, then you probably don't need to be asking questions. :)
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby pechelman » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:57 am

Thanks everyone for your comments and insights

Doing pretty much everything everyone has said.
The problem mostly comes in with smaller fishes that do a lot more head shaking and in narrower/faster seams of water when having the fish hooked upstream of my location.
I get the line in super fast to hand, use the bend in the rod tip to help maintain some tension/drag, let line out as needed, but Sometimes I just can't strip/pull line in quickly enough combined with current. Other times this fish just seems to swim straight at me from cross river. Lol. I think they've learned that from experience.

As far as big lines on big rivers, not sure where everyone draws the line, but I like to use the near te longest rod/line I can get away with on a river. So while I may pass up some smaller/tighter areas, ill be set for the larger ones and everything else. As for difficulty, if its windy, I "cheat" and just tie on a heavy weighted killer bug and it punches through the wind with long lines. 18' and 6' of tippet with two flies in moderate wind is no problem with the "shooting head" provided by a killer bug. Ive actually been debating putting a micro shot at the end of my level line to simulate the same. Otherwise, it's no big deal, unless you're totally obsessive about fly first/fly only presentations.

In fact, Erik, I think it was a comment you made a while back that peaked my interest about fishing longer lines/tippets, something to the extent "if you can't unravel 6-9' of tippet at the end of your cast, you should really learn how". So I blame this all on you ;)

But yea, hopefully this discussion helped the OP. I feel like I've scavenged off his thread a little bit. Sorry if I hijacked at all!
Speaking of which, where in Colorado are you fishing GregM?
Wondering if we're on the same waters.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby erik.ostrander » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:23 pm

I learned how to fish streamers a few years ago. I did it right. I took a class that had on and off river teaching. The biggest thing I learned, is that when you have a fish on you should give it no mercy. I usually use 10-15 lb. tippet with streamers. No fish is going to break that.

Similarly, if you have a small fish on with 4x (or maybe even 5x), then just yank it in. You have 7 lb. test and a fish less than a pound. You can easily turn a fish's head that small with such a long rod, so the fish should be easily directed towards soft water. Soft water is where you win. Just yank on it.

Hijack beginning.
As far as length of tippet - The length of tippet I use is based on how deep I want the fly to go, or how spooky the fish are. The shorter you go, the easier it is to cast. I use anywhere from 18" or so to around 8'. If you have super spooky fish, then tie on a western leader.
Hijack is over.
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Re: Tight Lines Over 20'?

Postby GregM » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:33 pm

Pechelman - Don't worry about hijacking this thread. I'm here, but just watching a bit. By the way, I'm in Salida. Most of my fishing is within 15 miles of town.

Generally I can swing them right or left, then grab the line and gently haul them in. But I have lost many well-set fish by being too aggressive and pulling out the hook. I can't remember the last time I actually broke off.

In my opening post I said "... that first straight-in run on a long line has me baffled." And it still does. A fish can cover 20 feet almost as fast as I can swing to the right or left. And I still won't have a tight line. I'm not sure if there IS a solution. I just hope the fish keeps going so I end up with a tight line, the rod in play, and quiet waters are close at hand. (You don't chase after fish on the Arkansas - the rocks are greased.)
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