We’ve harped on this before, but when fighting big anadramous fish it’s crucial to keep the pressure on all the way throughout the fight.
This means bending the rod all the way down to the butt section as this is where the strength of the rod is. At Alaska West we see many fish come unbuttoned due to a lack of pressure during the fight (especially when swinging for dime-bright Kings)! However, many anglers are reluctant at first to put the amount of pressure required to turn such a fish simply because they have never experienced how far down the rod it is made to bend.
This should help. Our friend Tim Rajeff has put out some videos in the past highlighting just how much stress can be put on a fly rod before its breaking point. Sure, it seems a little goofy, but take a look at just how much the butt section of the rod can bend!
This should give you much more faith in putting a deeper bend in that rod, and fishing it the way it was built to be fished.
Try pausing the video at the 1:25 mark and take a look at the flex on that butt section. ‘Nuff said?
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Sweet video, I just need a fish that pulls like that. Maybe that’s why steelhead are called “Silver Bullets” Leaning back a guiding a fish could be called getting low and dirty.