Follow these tips on fighting big ones, and next time you’ll land it
After the strike
Suppose a big fish hits halfway into your retrieve, you set the hook and it’s on. The sooner you crank up the excess line and get the fish on the reel, the fewer problems you’ll have while fighting that steelhead or pike or bonefish. But don’t fixate on the excess line and start wildly reeling in, forgetting you’ve got a live fish on. If it jumps, runs or comes in fast while you’re distracted by the reel, you’ll be slow to respond. And a split-second of slack line is all the fish needs to shake the hook.
So while it’s good practice to get a big fish on the reel, it shouldn’t be your first objective. Instead, reel up slack during those moments when the fish has settled down a bit, never losing focus on your quarry.