“Fishing the hang” is a simple trick for hooking a lot more fish
HOW TO DO IT
The fix for this scenario is face-palmingly simple. Near the end of your retrieve, when you still have one and a half to two rod lengths of line out, stop pulling in line (above). Then hold the line tight to the handle, smoothly lift the rod tip to the 10 o’clock position, and wait for five long seconds. This is “the hang,” that moment when the fly is motionless below your rod tip. More times than you’ll believe, that is when a fish will strike.
And since you’ve got the line pinched against the rod, and the rod is only halfway raised, you can easily set the hook. Often, though, the fish will hook themselves, especially bigger ones that have turned on the jets to grab the disappearing meal. Believe it or not, this simple technique will hook at least 20 per cent more fish; even doubling your hook-ups isn’t out of the question.
Fishing the hang consistently does present two minor problems, however. How do you know the right spot to pause? And (if my experience is anything to go by) how do you even remember to pause? The solution is a hang marker, a short, highly visible or textured spot on your fly line marking the pause point. When you see or feel this spot while stripping in line, you know it’s time to hold still for a moment. Some fly lines come with a hang marker (below), or you can simply mark the spot with a Sharpie or slide a piece of old fly line onto the spot. Using basic fly-tying skills and materials, you can also wrap a bit of thread or floss to the line as a marker.
It’s just that simple. Fishing the hang is one of the few techniques that fly anglers of any skill level can easily do, and it will instantly catch you more fish. And as a bonus, you won’t be haunted by 20 years of missed strikes, like those of us who were slow to catch on.