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Clearing Line – Watch Your Line, Not the Fish

Posted on November 19 2016

Clearing line when fly fishing for bonefish.
Watch your line! Photo: Kyle Shea.

Anyone who has cast a fly to bonefish, permit, tarpon, or any other flats species is well aware of the endless things a fly line can tangle on during the fragile period of time between setting the hook and getting your fish on the reel.

Many fish are lost during the rapid exchange of fly line from the floor of the skiff to the reel, making clearing line an important skill for every fly angler on the flats, or at least those interested in landing the fish they hook.

How is it possible for the fly line to tangle up on so many things? Part of the reason is that after setting the hook, many anglers watch the fish, not their line.

We get it, watching that first blistering run is fun! However, taking your eye off your line before it comes tight to the reel can become costly.

Instead, immediately after setting the hook, focus your undivided attention to your line until it is safely on the reel. Remember, until your line is tight to the reel, your rod is unable to provide any tension to direct or control the fish anyhow. In other words, get him on the reel first, then watch the show.

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