Watching the Hook Angle

Lefty provides a tip angler Bill Bishop shared with him after learning the hard way:

Bill Bishop, in my opinion, is one of the finest fly-rod tarpon anglers, and Capt. Tommy Locke is a legend on the west coast of Florida. Bill e-mailed me this after a recent outing, and I found it interesting: “Tommy Locke and I just finished six days of tarpon fishing together and had a blast. We were putting the finishing touches on a nice fish that we estimated at around 120 pounds or so. We had her beat but couldn’t get the right angle to grab her bottom jaw. She was beat, and her last effort to swim took her only 20 feet out, where she floated up on her side with her head facing the skiff. Tommy told me to watch the hook angle. I understood exactly what he meant but still felt like I could put enough pressure on her to slide her boat-side. The fly popped out, and she lumbered off. During the fight, we had been pulling away or back from the direction she was moving, and I can only imagine the hole that had developed as a result.

“Also, the hook was cantered. I’ve removed many hooks from fish and often am amazed how easy they can be removed by pulling the hook point backward. Losing this fish wasn’t a big deal, but it might have been for some anglers. All we had to do to get this fish to the boat was either move the skiff to change the angle of direction or pole over to her and grab her jaw.”