View Full Version : Head Shakes...

06-14-2007, 04:16 PM
I broke off two good fish today immediately after setting the hook. Both fish shook their head violently until the line broke. I didn't think I was putting too much pressure on them, but its frustrating to lose two nice fish to the same mistake. Any advice? Should I back way off if I feel a vibration like that?

BTW one took a #14 Tellico, the other took a SMBSH...


06-14-2007, 04:32 PM

I have done the same thing many times. It's just one of those things that happens from time to time I think. When I notice it, it seems to happen so quickly that usually the line pops or fly comes out before I can really react. I'm sure they were some better than average fish that you hooked into as well. I remember a specific time a few years ago I did this on the west prong of Little River when the water was high. I dropped a nypmh in a pretty deepl hole. When I set the hook I immediately started getting the head shakes you talk about and the fly quickly popped out. I never saw the fish, but I could feel that that fish was way above average for that stream. It's just part of the game, sometimes they get away. I do feel like it does help me when I have my 3wt instead of 5wt b/c the softer tip absorbs the pressure better if I'm holding on too tight. However, the 3wt isn't exactly what you want when you hook into one of those big browns on the east prong.


06-14-2007, 06:00 PM
I had a fish on this weekend like that - he jumped once, then it felt like he had wrapped my line around something, because for about 5 seconds, I couldn't move him - just like a bass in heavy cover. He wasn't a monster, but I was using 6x on a 2wt rod, so I couldn't muscle him. Eventually I was able to get him.

06-14-2007, 10:01 PM
Things to consider:
1. Old tippet/leader
2. Nicks or abrasions weaking tippet
3. Too small tippet

Any time a fish breaks off, I study my leader. Unless you're pulling a Bill Dance hook set, your line and rod should be able to absorb the shock. A lot of people use tiny tippet like they're fishing a spring creek. In my many years experience, I have never used anything less than 5X in the Park, but have had others fishing with me break off using something smaller (last month just to name one).

My 2 cents worth.


David Knapp
06-14-2007, 10:12 PM
Kevin, a few questions...what size tippet were you using? Where did it break at (fly, tippet to leader, somewhere in the tippet section)? Free advice of the day to discourage head shaking.................I like to horse big fish...of course only on 4x or heavier...:rolleyes: :biggrin:

Seriously, if it isn't a bad batch of tippet or a bad knot, then it is probably just one of those things that a few shots at larger fish will fix. I had to break off quite a few fish before I started landing the decent ones. Now more often than not I lose large fish because they have thrown the fly. Still not the desired result but better than breaking off...

06-14-2007, 10:45 PM
Hugh's gonna kill me...

It was 6x and it broke at the improved clinch knot both times. Hugh told me to rig up with 5x and use Pitzen knots, but old habits are hard to break. I guess I didn't expect to be getting into large fish this consistently. Another pitiful excuse is that I started with a dry at Tremont, and wasn't satisfied with the action, so I went to east prong and switched to nymph's. I guess I should have taken the extra time to change my setup. This had never happened before, so I guess this is how you learn. (by messing up) I'll definitly switch to 5x for nymphing from now on, but it might take a while to switch to the Pitzen knot. I'll get there though.


David Knapp
06-14-2007, 10:59 PM
Kevin, I've never had trouble with a Clinch knot personally but that 6x will lose some nice fish, especially wild fish...:cool:

06-14-2007, 11:01 PM
We need to plan that trip to the SoHo...

I'll call you tomorrow. What's a good time?

David Knapp
06-14-2007, 11:11 PM
Kevin, probably sometime between 2 and 5 would be best. If you want to send me an email and don't have my address, you can find it at my profile on my blog...

06-15-2007, 12:30 AM
kevin, if I catch any hogs with a nymph in their lip, I'll know it's you. 6x is probably the culprit, though. sometimes that just happens. what upsets me most about breaking off is losing the fly. especially if I've been catching alot of fish and its gotten all tattered up and strangely more effective. a few posts back someone else was complaining of breaking alot of fish off. I believe they said they used the improved clinch as well. that may be something to look at. I personally have always used nothing but a normal clinch and it's always worked pretty well. I can't imagine they'd be that different.

something else to consider is this: I know you were using that tom morgan favorite for a while and it has a really soft tip from what I understand. if you recently switched back to your TFO, and there's a difference in the tip stiffness, that could be your answer. you could have simply gotten adjusted to the overly soft tip, and now you need to get readjusted back to the TFO tip.

or you could've just had some bad luck and lost two nice fish. it happens.

06-15-2007, 01:28 AM
This may seem strange but I once had my liquid floatant in the same pocket as my spools of tippet material. Needless to say I had already notice that if you got any excess floatant on the tippet material it would deteriorate the line. I was using Loon's floatant and Orvis's Mirage tippet. I don't know why it had that reaction with the line by I have a witness to it. I've had my fair share of problems with the clinch knot but if your using it on 5X tippet it's hard to beat. I don't think this is habit, just trying to hang into the fish that caused those massive rise rings in a hurry! I'd love to hook up with you all on the SoHo. When's the plans if you don't mind the intrusion? Dad and I could use a trip up there before we head to Florida!

Hugh Hartsell
06-15-2007, 05:24 AM
Well brother, I'm glad that you're getting into as many nice fish as you have been. I believe that class you took is working. Sorry to hear about the misfortunes of breakoffs.
The use of 6X tippett with nymphs, should probably not go below size#14 flies, especially if they are weighted. Size #12 is more than the tippett can stand. That may even be pushing it. If you feel it is necessary to use 6X in these low water conditions, try using Rio Tippett. It is slightly larger, but it is stronger. Google up that tutorial on the Pitzen Knot and practice it as much as you can, then show us the pictures of a beautiful East Prong brown that is about 22in. Good luck.

06-15-2007, 06:56 AM
Trevor... I didn't think about the rod change, but I think it was the 6x. I was using Frog's Hair. It has served me well. And I HATE losing flies!!! Especially a SMBSH...

Hugh... I'll get some RIO 6x just in case I feel 6x is a must. BTW the class is helping alot. I'm finding some very nice fish and I hope to land one soon.

Brett... I'll let you know when we get some plans nailed down.

PA... I'll call or send you an email this afternoon

06-15-2007, 09:36 PM
David... I sent you an email

Hugh... Can you post the contact info on the new place to stay up there? If not I can give you a call.

Hugh Hartsell
06-15-2007, 10:28 PM
Kevin, the contact numbers are423-538-4514 or 423-764-7562. The site is on the opening page and all you need to do is scrol down a bit. Click on the site and it will tell all about the place. I'm thinking of going up myself tomorrow.

06-15-2007, 10:41 PM
Hugh... It looks like we will not be staying overnight this time, but I want to go stay for a good three day weekend later this summer. Please let us know how things are going up there if you would. I'm not sure how much you have been up there lately.

Trevor & Brett... PA and I are planning on doing a long day trip up there next Sunday (24th). My email is redc4 at msn.com if you want to try to meet up or do some carpooling.


06-16-2007, 02:07 AM
count me in. I've been dying to get up there.