Winching Saves Flinching – Words and Images by Steve Morgan

Another article written by Steve Morgan from several years ago.

FLY RODS are not good fish fighting tools. In a lot of cases fly tackle isn’t the optimum system for delivering an artificial to a fish – twenty knots of breeze sees most flyrodders sent packing.

But I can’t stay away from it.  Catching fish on fly is a challenge that pushes many of the limits of an angler’s ability. Species that are a certainty on specialised techniques are a whole new world on the wand.

Currently, we see species that were once confined to bait and lure anglers being targeted with fur and feather – some of these species slip into the small scale while others are a challenging mass on any tackle.  Specialised guiding operations stalk golden trevally on the flats and game boats tease billfish to the transom for shots on fly. The common tunas are fair game, as are Spaniards and table top sized trevally. We’re using small gear to knock over some pretty impressive fish.

I’ve read a little recently about short short-stroking techniques for fly rodders and agree with the principle. Basically the fly rod is too poor a lever to gain any line in a hurry. Short short-stroking never sees the fly rod with more than a 90 degree bend. Great for line recovery and presentation.  Why don’t we take the theory further and basically leave the rod out of the equation all together? Point the rod at the fish and gain the hard yards with the reel when fishing tippets six kilo and heavier.

Longtail tuna are a prime example of how the system works. After an initial run, longtails can slug it out in large, sweeping arcs. The most effective way of gaining line is to point the rod at the fish and winch with the reel.  Another advantage of winching is that those sickening, rod-busting curves that big fish can create in the heaviest of tackle can be avoided. Combine it with a fighting technique that keeps the line at less than 45 degrees to the water’s surface and you’ll find that you can knock fish over quite quickly indeed. Subsequently, fish can be released in a healthier condition and with a better chance of survival.

Winching may not be the most stylish of fish fighting techniques but it is a means to the end of reducing fight times and getting your next hit sooner.

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