Controlling the drag with rod bend is an often overlooked fish fighting skill. It is a simple technique that once mastered puts the smack down on hard fighting fish. It comes in handy when fighting Lake Ontario brown trout on light tackle. Its almost paramount to use battling surging king salmon.
Mechanics of Rod Bend
Mechanically, as a bend in a fishing rod increases, so does the effective drag pressure. In a previous post, “set-reel-drags-dynamically-on-lake-ontario” we discussed the initial setting of the drags. Drags, set this way are at max pressure without locking up, by design. When reeling down to the fish till you can’t reel anymore, the fishing rod will reach at or near its maximum bend.
When to Use Max Drag Pressure
With a monster fish up and running, peeling drag, this is where you want the rod bent to the max. Its at maximum drag pressure. The fish will tire more quickly. The quicker the fish tires, the faster it gets to the boat. The faster it gets to the boat, the less chance of losing it. But, what if a fish isn’t powerful enough pull drag?
Loosening Drag Is Not The Answer
Most people immediately move to loosen the drag when a fish can’t pull it out. In most cases, this is the wrong move. Our suggested move is to “bow to the fish” instead. What we mean by this is to simply lower the rod tip towards the fish. This takes the bend out of the rod which lowers the drag tension.
Bow to The Head Shake
A scenario often encountered with king salmon is when the fish just sets there and shakes its head violently. The fish just doesn’t run or stops running and starts this defiance. Bowing the rod to the fish helps negate the chaotic rod tip bouncing. It’s the best way we have found to fight this kind of fish behavior. The trick is to bow just enough till the fish stops this nonsense.
Fighting The Bull Dog
Another scenario often encountered with brown trout, especially the trophy ones, is to bulldog when they reach the back of the boat. These giant browns will just set there and bounce the rod up and down, over and over. They try to swim to the bottom. The trick here is to keep just enough bend in the rod so the drag doesn’t pull out. But, not too much bend to prevent pull of the drag.
Drag With Rod Bend
Controlling the drag with rod bend is key to successful fish landings. Knowing when to bow and when to increase pressure comes with experience. If you follow what has been outlined above, you will be well on your way to landing the big ones with much more regularity.