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First I would like to say that I have read this forum for some time and have really enjoyed the information gained from it. I have recently been reading posts on the web criticizing people for playing foul hooked fish to the net. The poster suggest that one is to break off a fish when it is realized that the fish is foul hooked. I could be wrong but I morally have a problem with leaving a fly or possibly flies and tippet material in a fish to drag around. I have fished Taneycomo for years and have foul hooked too many fish to remember but I honestly do not believe that I have mortally injured "any" fish by landing and removing a foul hook. Parading a snagged fish around after landing it is one thing but do we not have an obligation to remove a fly and release the fish as quickly as possible? Maybe I'm wrong, sure wouldn't be the first time.

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My opinion may well be close to yours, Okiefly. But I could be wrong myself.

First of all, there is definately a difference in intentionally snagging a fish and foul hooking one. I've foul hooked a few bream, crappie, and maybe a bass or two, but don't remember foul hooking a trout... at least it never made it close enough for me to know it was foul hooked.

If foul hooked, there is an obligation to bring it to hand get it back in the water as quickly as possible if you don't notice until it is close to or in the net. However, breaking off a foot or two of tippet along with a fly might well be the better option if you realize you have foul hooked a fish before it is close enough to net. The fish will get rid of the fly/hook naturally and be subject to low lactic acid release.

Now with the use of "conventional" tackle, there may be even MORE of an "obligation" to bring one to net. According to how much line will break off. Again, I could be wrong here, but if you are using line with no dropped size leader, you chance breaking off a lot more than a foot or so of tippet material of a fly casting rig. Several feet of mono broken off can cause more problems than bringing the fish in to release it from the hook.

If brought to net, I see nothing wrong with a quick picture - even though I would be a little reluctant to do it myself. But big fish do take great pictures... even if you never get them to take a fly. And, of course, there are those that will take them home if they are not releaseable... as well as those who catch to keep. I'm a catch and release advocate, but I certainly will take one home if I can't revive him.

But the intentional hanging the fish out of water for a 10 minute photo shoot goes against my grain.

Also against my grain is the intentional snagging of trout. I'm not certain of the regulations, but I just think it's "bad form" to work one from that angle. I don't mind people who snag suckers, carp, catfish, buffalo, and other fish, but something about snagging a trout...

Then again, these are just my opinions...for what it's worth... and that ain't much...



"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process." - Paul O’Neil

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You’re going to get all kinds of opinions on this one. I agree with Terry on intentional snagging going against my grain. I just don’t see the sport in that at all, but that too just my opinion.

I don’t think there will be any hard set rules, but if the fish is big and has to struggle, I break it off. If the fish is small enough to manhandle quickly, I remove the hook. A good friend, Tim Homesley [Tim’s Fly Shop] will break off any fouled fish immediately. Tim is one of the best fly fishermen I have ever met, and he can flat catch them. I saw him foul hook a BIG brown once. As soon as he realized the fish was fouled, he immediately broke it off despite the fact it was a nice sized brown. No questions asked. Again, it is personal preference. I only used barbless hooks, so it is going to come out really quickly. And, there won’t be any more line than when you break off a fish caught conventionally.

The bottom line is I don’t think Okiefly or Terry is wrong as long as the fish is unharmed or if you’re going to keep it.

There’s my two cents.


AKA Flysmith - Cassville MO

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isn't the purpose of fishing to catch fish

who are we to say people are skum if they foul hook a fish a reel it in

in the end the objective is achieve

whether you hook a fish in the mouth verses the back or fin

a fish is caught

foul hooked or not

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Like Terry I have never foul hooked a trout that I know of or if I have they never made it to the net.

Ethically I dont know that it is a good thing to break the fish off and leave line hanging on them. I don't see the hook as being a serious issue but the line could get entangled on objects or other fish and cause damage.

I would rather be fishin'.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." Benjamin Franklin, 1759

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The only thing I can really say about this topic is that if you shuffle, then snag a 4 or 5 lb. fish, then keep it......you'll likely be hung in the public square by a mob of folks chanting incantations from the "Good Book of Holier Then Thou Fishermen".


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Last time I fished, I netted a brown for a guy. It was a beautiful fish 20+ inches and fat. He caught it on a two fly rig, and the second fly had fouled on the fish during the fight. The poor guy couldn't enjoy his very beautiful fish because he was sure that he fouled it. He almost let it shake off even because he was almost sure it was foul, not legitimate.

I guess my point is that everyone is so uptight that this guy didn't truly get to enjoy the fight because he wasn't sure he had a "clean" catch.

Relax a little! Don't fish unethically, make every effort to avoid foul hooks, even cast off the ones you are sure are foul, and enjoy the day.

Tight lines!!


"The Lord has blessed us all today... It's just that he has been particularly good to me." Rev MacLean

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You're missing one thing.

On Taney - hook a big brown or rainbow in the fall in the tail or under the belly or back using 6x or 7x... you fight this fish to the net and chances are it's dead. Low DO- that's the difference. When hooking a fish in the mouth, you have much more control of the head of the fish and he has to fight harder, tiring quicker, making the fight shorter in most cases. If it's hooked back from the head, you don't have control and he can fight and fight till he's exhausted. Because of the low DO, he often times cannot be revivied.

Low DO is the only reason I'd say if you foul hook a big fish, break him off or you may kill it.

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The only thing I can really say about this topic is that if you shuffle, then snag a 4 or 5 lb. fish, then keep it......you'll likely be hung in the public square

The good thing is - if you so inclined to shuffle and snag yerself a keeper - there is a good chance you also have three cousins named Bubba who will save you from the hangin.


"We are living in the midst of a Creation that is mostly mysterious - that even when visible, is never fully imaginable".

-Wendell Berry-

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