How To Catch and Release while Fly Fishing

Yesterday you purchased your dream pole; eight and a half feet of pure genius. You woke up at four a.m. and made it to the hole by five. You eagerly throw on your waders and tread in knee deep. With your first cast.....A BITE! You fight against the current to reel in the catch of your life. He's sixteen inches of pure trout glory. You hold him up while your friend takes a quick snap shot, capturing the moment forever......Now what? You know you want to release the little guy, but you don't know how to do it efficiently and painlessly (for you as well as the fish). These catch and release tips should help ease the process.

  1. Crimp the barbs on your flies. With a pair of pliers push down the little barbs; this makes the process of removing the fly from the fish much easier. Crimping the barbs also makes it less painful on the fish, which is always a goal in catch and release fly fishing.
  2. Have everything you need close at hand. Keep your net, pliers, measuring tape, and camera at ready access. Speed is the key to successful catch and release fly fishing. The less time that your catch is out of the water the greater chance he has of surviving.
  3. To remove your fly from the fish’s lip push into the mouth. Pull out your pliers and carefully clamp down on the fly while pushing back to loosen it from the lip of the fish. If you try yanking the fly towards you it will only become more firmly embedded, not to mention shred the mouth of the fish. If the fish has swallowed the fly do not yank it out! This will tear the fish’s insides destroying any hope of its survival. The best thing you can do is cut the line.
  4. Give the little guy a chance to catch his breath! When you place the fish back into the water; hold him upright between your hands while gently running your fingers along the gills. This will stimulate the lungs and give the fish a chance to catch his breath. Too many times in catch and release fly fishing you will see a fish carelessly dropped back into the water float back to the top, dead from lack of oxygen.

Use these four tips and catch and release fly fishing will not only be enjoyable, but rewarding.


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