Grabbing Line When Landing Fish

How-To Fishing Videos
Yes, you CAN land fish by grabbing the line. Here’s how to do it right. Stop losing fish at the boat!

Keri: Come on, you. Come on kitty, kitty, kitty. Come on, kitty, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.

That time, I got you. That time, we got you. Yup. Easy does it there, big guy. Easy does it, big guy. Stop it. It fell out right when I picked it up.

Glenn: Wow. Nice.

Keri: Finally. Look at what we got. Hit the button. Look at what we got. There we go. All righty, fishy. He did wanna come play.

Glenn: Hey, folks. Glenn May here with, and one of the questions that I get very often is why the heck are Keri and I grabbing the line when we're bringing fish in? Aren't you supposed to lose fish when that happens? I've been told that I'm not supposed to touch the line because the fish could come off.

Well, let me explain this to you here. First of all, if you guys have been watching my videos for any amount of time, you know that I kind of like to challenge the common nomenclature, the stuff that gets passed around from generation to generation as advice. I kind of like to challenge that to see if that's still true or if there's anything that I can improve upon, and this was one of those things.

Let me explain to you, there is some truth to that. However, it's missing a key component which I'm going to tell you in a minute and it's no longer an issue. So, first of all, let me answer the first question.

Why is it that we actually grab the line to bring the fish in rather than say swinging him on board, or using a net, or grabbing them when they're still in the water? It's really a matter of safety. I've been fishing for decades and I can't tell you how many times through the years I've seen this scenario happen, maybe it's happened to you, and that is you get the fish to the boat, you've got the rod up, you're holding it up, and it's totally loaded. There's a big bend on the rod, and the fish is there, you know, halfway out of the water, and you reach down and grab the fish.

As soon as you grab the fish, that's when he shakes and, boom, that lure pops off. And because that rod is loaded, it's going to fire off somewhere, usually, right at the angler, and it's going to hit some part of his anatomy and get stuck. You're going to hook yourself. I've seen it happen many times.

The reason for that is when you grab a fish's mouth, they almost always flinch. They'd be fine, they're not moving around, but as soon as you touch them, they flinch. And when they're in that water, he's got the tail in the water which is as powerful as can be and that gives him all kinds of leverage to jerk that lure free and off it pops.

So, the reason I grab the line, first of all, if you watch how I do this, I grab the line, and then it takes the load off the rod. I completely let the rod go so that there's just no pressure on it whatsoever. Now, if I'm holding the fish like this and he somehow breaks free, the fish just falls and the lure just stays there. It's not going anywhere. So, it's not going to impale anybody. So, I've removed that problem. This is a safety thing.

However, what about the problem with fish coming loose? Here's the key, and this is why this advice has been passed around so many years to not touch the line. A lot of people will grab the line when they reach down and grab the fish while he's still in the water. Like I just said, that's when they can be the most powerful. That tail can, as soon as they shake it, they can break free. So, what I always do is I lift the fish completely out of the water and then grab him. When that fish flinches and wiggles, he has no leverage, okay? You've taken away all his power, so he's not going to get loose.

And I can tell you, watch this video, give you an example. Watch this video. You'll find that first of all, you know, I got him completely out of the water, but then when I went to grab him, he flinched and my hand was really close to the hook, so I let go real quick and then I went in and got him again. But listen to what I say after I get a hold of him.

We have a customer.

Keri: Oh, there you go. We have another customer. It's a nice fish.

Glenn: Yeah. This one's a little fatty. Come here, you. Don't do that. Barely had him. He's got a little belly to him.

Keri: He's been eating.

Glenn: Yeah. He's got some weight to him. He's stout.

Keri: Stout.

Glenn: Thank you, buddy.

Okay. See? That fish was barely hooked. I barely had him, but he didn't come off, okay? And Keri and I have been doing this for decades. We've been doing this technique for decades, and I think over the past 25 or so years, maybe 30 years now, we've lost maybe three fish total between the two of us using this technique, okay? The key is to get the fish out of the water before you touch him, and then you'll be okay. And even so you've got him over the boat. In case he comes off, he lands on the boat. Not ideal. You don't want him to do that, but at least you don't lose the fish.

So, yeah, a little bit of truth in grabbing the line, but now that you know the context and you know the right way to do it, it's not a problem, plus you'll remove that hazardous issue of hooks flying at your face and hooking you somewhere. I hope that helps. For more tips and tricks like this, visit