The Shotgun Strike

The Shotgun Strike

Paul Arden | Monday, 14 December 2020

We have a change this week. Gary wrote to me a few weeks back telling me that he didn’t have anything to write for the FP... so I tried – of course – to give him a few ideas! Gary, in my opinion, is one of the finest writers we had on Sexyloops. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about his entertaining experiences and practical insights. He says that he’ll submit articles again in the future, when he has the inspiration!

In the meantime, I have series from Tim Kempton to run in the Tuesday slot. Thank you Gary, for an absolutely brilliant run on the FPs!!! Fishing the old road bridge on the Keys must have been a wholly remarkable experience and has been indelibly imprinted in my mind. I really hope that you have more to share with us in the future and that one day, in the not too distant future, that we can finally meet and fish together!! That will be fun :)))

I thought what I would write about today is not about turning 50 later this week – “half way there!” – but instead, about what I think of as, “The Shotgun Strike.”

This is something I’ve been playing with for a few years now and it’s what I use when fishing for both Snakehead with Poppers as well as for Giant Gourami with dry flies.

Fundamentally, as you are no doubt aware, there are a few ways to set the hook. One is what is commonly called the “trout set/strike”, when the rod tip is smartly levered upwards. Another is the “strip strike” where the left hand is used to set the hook, while the rod remains in position - this is generally the domain of Imaginary Saltwater Flyfishing.

There are variations on the above; with some fishing techniques it’s best not to attempt to strike at all, but just continue retrieving until the fish hooks itself (surface muddlers for trout for example, or small streamers just subsurface).  There are other ways of striking, such as striking sideways as opposed to vertically - I would often strike this way on stillwaters for trout, particularly when fishing subsurface.

Now the Shotgun Strike, I think, should be fairly self-explanation for Spey casters, since in Spey casting we have the “shotgun lift”, which is basically lifting the rod parallel to the water surface and not levered upwards. The advantage in Spey casting is of course that you don’t sacrifice as much of your available casting arc when lifting the line (it has other applications too of course, for example if you have a tail wind and wish to make a low tight “Belgian” backcast).

Rod Angles

Something that I would hope all Sexyloops readers would be aware of by now, is the experiments I did with 8-10WT rods and typical forces applied to the rod during the fight, with the rod being held at different angles.

I asked many different anglers to apply as much force “as they dared” to the rod, while I measured the pull at the fly end with the electronic luggage scales that I use for weighing the enormous fish that I catch. All of them told me that they were applying more force than they normally would and didn’t want to “break the rod”, so we are talking a pretty serious leverage here.

With 90 degrees butt angle to fly, the force at the fly end was approximately 1.5lbs. This was surprising, despite the fact that we knew it was going to be low, we expected it to be a little more significant. At 45 degrees the force was 7-8lbs. At 0 degrees... well 10KG force was not difficult to apply with line or rod hand. And that is of course why, when trying to stop a Giant Snakehead from running, I point the rod straight at the fish. That way I can, and do, apply 10KG or more of stopping force. A “mere” 7-8lbs would result a snagged and lost fish.

When I fight fish in the jungle – and I mean “fight” them! – I keep the rod angle close to pointing at the fish, anywhere from 0-30 degrees. When trout fishing 90 degrees is often fine. It helps protect tippets, it keeps the fly line clear of the water, but when trout fishing we are merely causing the fish to run around until it is tired. When jungle fishing we are trying to pull their faces off.

Strip setting alone, with poppers and dry flies, is a sure way to miss the fish. So over the past couple of years I’ve developed a shotgun strike. It’s a vertical lift with the rod with minimal angle change. I also set in conjunction with the line hand and it works well when combined in this way. It puts me straight into the proper fighting rod angle that I need here which allows me to try to pull their faces off.

I don’t know if you also do this? I’m sure some of you might have done so. If so then I would love to hear about it over on the Board.

The fishing here is good right now. In fact life is good. 5 more days and I’m midway through. I wonder if my dick will fall off?

Have a great week!

Cheers, Paul