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Strong fish and broken lines

A look into the reasons why big trout breaks us more often than we'd like

Bigger trout tend to have sharp teeth.
Bigger trout tend to have sharp teeth.
In heavily weeded lochs, such as Park, it's necessary to hold onto fish tight in order to prevent them diving into the weed.
In heavily weeded lochs, such as Park, it's necessary to hold onto fish tight in order to prevent them diving into the weed.

'Witching hour' again last night, chasing the late-evening risers at one of my favourite lochs, Loch Park, which i'm very lucky to have so close to home. The heat and brightness of the weather just now rendering any day-time foray both uncomfortable and not as productive as you’d like. There’s also the danger of damage to our fish if water temperature hits (and stays) above 18 degrees Centigrade, which is when our salmonids begin the really struggle, which is why I try to subdue, take a quick photo (sometimes) and release them as quickly (and carefully) as I can.

Anyway, back to Loch Park. It's a very weedy loch and not for the feint of heart; tactics differ from other lochs as it's single dry territory here and as heavy nylon you can get away with without ruining the presentation, because once you hook a Loch Park fish it is a case of ‘hold on very tight’.

However, I’m reading reports from guys out and about that leader breakages seem to be fairly common just now. Up here, on Park, it’s mostly because I have to hold fish hard due to the presence of such thick weed so I can understand it. That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it, however.

4lb Maxima Green my nylon of choice (for wild loch fish); it's strong, very resilient and the matt olive colour fits perfectly with most of our wild waters. I checked my spool again today and it's fine, but it didn't stop it going 'ping' twice last night, which I don't like, as it obviously leaves a fly in situ.

When you consider the above factors of the weed then that's OK, but this is only part of the problem.

Add in the facts that our fish have been left untouched all spring, meaning they are taking very confidently, which might result in hooks setting deeper inside the mouth, plus the fact these fish are certainly very strong just now, perhaps to the peak of their condition, and you start to get a better understanding about why tippet beakages might be a relatively common occurrence at the moment.

Most of all, don't forget that a lot of our trout (especially bigger ones or ones, where hard cased items [caddis, snails, etc.] or smaller fish might be high on the menu) have very sharp teeth; meaning any leader coming over them at tension has the distinct possibility of breaking if 'nicked' by a sharp tooth.

The giveaway sign here is a clean ‘point’ on the leader where the fly once was, as opposed to a curly ‘tail’ where the knot has failed (schoolboy error), or possibly some indications of ‘stretch’ where there might have been a wind-knot (another schoolboy error, but one we are all guilty of). Trout ‘bite off’s’ are not uncommon, but are often overlooked by the angler and, as said, it can take surprisingly little to cause a snap when under a lot of tension.

We all go through spells of ‘bad luck’ where losing fish seems to happen a lot in relative terms to our overall fishing, which can hit our confidence (which, in turn, can lead to even more losses), but it happens to us all and we simply have to just work though it and accept this as part of the overall rich equation of fly fishing.

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