There are some aspects of fly rod position that many anglers do not consider when they are playing big fish. I am going to cover just a few of these here, recognizing that there are whole books that can be written on the topic. Hummm. Might be a pretty dull book unless it has a lot of cool photos.
There are two common errors I commonly see when I watch friends playing big fish. The first is keeping their fly rod at a high angle where just the upper 1/3 of the rod is flexed. This creates a situation where only a few ounces of pressure is being exerted on the fish. The tip is the most flexible part of the rod, and a tip bend alone will prolong the process and leave more time for the hook to fall out as a consequence of being under inadequate tension.
Another error that is especially common is for the angler to grab the rod in the middle of the first section above the rod handle. This is a no no as illustrated above. Placing one’s hand above the cork creates a hinge point (my terminology) and can cause the rod to deform and break right there. Placing the hand between cork and first guide is a very natural action, but this can cause many a break.
Fly rods, and Echo Fly Rods specifically, can take a lot of pressure if one keeps hands on the cork. The photos above show our Shop mate Lou doing his best to break an Echo 8 wt, with hands on the handle. He did break it finally, but he was sweating, and even these sturdy rods would be more vulnerable if grabbed between cork and fist guide. So please don’t do it.
What to do? This photo shows the practice of keeping a low rod angle, distributing a lot of pressure applied through the reel drag and the entire rod, with emphasis on the butt section (the most powerful part of the rod). This is the course of action when you want to put the most pressure on a fish, if you hold the reel tight. Ironically, it is also a rod position that comes into play if your fish makes a sudden bolt to the deep and you want to release pressure — in this case, you allow the drag to ease up, and lower the rod to reduce line friction through the guides. Never point your rod straight at Mr. Big, though, because that eliminates any shock absorbing qualities of the rod.
So, now it is time for counterpoint commentary, and it is genuinely welcome. meanwhile, have fun out there.