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How to Reel in a Fish

Reeling in a fish is the most exciting part of fishing.

  1. Start reeling in while keeping your rod tip up at a 45-degree angle to the water.
  2. Steer your catch away from any cover that your line could be wrapped around by moving your rod to your the left or right.
  3. Keep a consistent pressure on the line. Slack line can make it easier for the fish to shake loose your hook.
  4. When the fish is swimming away stop reeling and allow your drag to tire out the fish.
  5. When the fish slows down or swims toward you continue reeling in.
  6. When the fish is about a rods length away stop reeling in and prepare to land the fish.

These simple tips should help you successfully reel in more fish.

How do you know when to reel in a fish?

You want to start reeling in once you have successfully set the hook and have the fish secured to your line. The part a lot of anglers struggle with is detecting the bite in the first place. We created in-depth guides on both topics to help walk you through the process and clear up any confusion.

How to Reel in a Big Fish

When you catch a big fish you can’t rely on brute force. Large fish can pull very hard and exert a lot of force that can break your line or rod if not properly sized for the fish.  To protect your rod and prevent the line from breaking you need to slowly fight the fish in, allowing the fish to tire out.

  1. Reel in when the fish swims towards you.
  2. Keep some pressure on the line by utilizing your rod’s bend
  3. When the fish is retreating and swimming away allow your reel’s drag system to absorb some of the force.
  4. Use the bend of your rod to help steer the fish away from any cover it might get wrapped up in.
  5. As the fish tires out continue to reel in.

Additional Things to Know When Reeling in a Fish

  • Fish in shallow water are more likely to jump. There aren’t many options for fish to go when trying to get away when shallow so they often choose to jump.

What Not to Do When Reeling in Fish

  • Avoid reeling against the drag. If your drag is letting out line wait for it to stop before trying to reel in.

This guide is a part of our larger guide on how to catch fish.