The night ended on an old logging trail with a chance meeting of a very experienced fellow river rat, John. As I talked with John, Casey listened. I though, does my son know he is looking at two guys with a century of fly fishing experience? Knowledge born from a love of the river, honed by countless days and nights in cold damp waders. I am of course on my sons list of dumb people here on planet earth, but I thought if John talked about tippet and turning big fish just maybe Casey would absorb some of John's years of experience. John was using 5X tippet. Only the best fly fishing anglers can turn a large trout on such a small line. John is that guy. He explained his technique of beating the odds. I knew the answers, I wanted Casey to hear it again from John. Here is that knowledge.
Late season Brook and Brown Trout begin to move up the river as the water cools and evaporation subsides; river depths increase. The large trout are beginning their spawning behavior which makes them more vulnerable. The big trout are moving. Smudging or porpoise takes as the evening closes in on you can be that giant trout on the hunt. It is not always that wake you up slashing take, but rather a slight dimpling of the surface in flat water. Suddenly you have a big trout on. Your first move is to pull the trout away from his familiar hold before he begins his fight. Keep your distance. Fifteen feet of line acts as a shock absorber for that surprise run. Now the contest begins.
So many things happen so fast. You have to know when to apply pressure to the trout so as not to break your leader. You have to know when to let the trout run because he is in the position to break said leader. A lot of thinking and decisions to make in just a few seconds. Fighting the trout on the surface, keeping his head up bleeds off his energy. His splashing on the surface negates his strength to break the line. Let him get sub surface and swimming straight away, you have to let him have line. A little pressure can get him to swing right or left in the river so you can keep him in an open hole.
Big trout are good for at least 3 major runs over a period of approximately 90 seconds. You have to survive that fight before the advantage swings your way. Big trout can see you coming, so when you go to net him be ready for one last kick. No one can explain the many different scenarios you will face fighting a big trout. That is the challenge.
In passing, the single most important thing a great fly fishing angler knows is the strength of his leader and tippet. That cannot be taught...so Casey when you figure that out you will start landing those big boys.