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An Introduction and guide to the Correct Handling of a Fish

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

It is essential when angling to prepare to land a specimen fish constantly. There is always a chance to encounter the fish of a lifetime when your line is within the water. Therefore, having the correct necessary gear will prove crucial for complete control over any species. Having the proper equipment means having a suitable landing net and pliers to remove hooks with you at all times. For example, a pike will require a much larger landing net than a trout.

Any good angler should be comfortable with the selected gear they have chosen. Many fish may accidentally inflict wounds upon themselves while on the line. Control the fish with your rod and reel combo is extremely important to ensure no damage is caused to the fish. Understanding how to correctly play a fish, avoiding jarring structures within the water will stop you from causing any harm.

Correctly landing a fish can be a challenging task. The standard error anglers make placing the butt of their rod into their stomach or hip and moving the fish towards them. This may cause the rod to bend back on itself, which will over time damage or break the rod. Instead, lift the rod horizontally once the fish's head is out of the water. That way, you maintain a small arc on your rod. Then turn the rod sideways and pull the line towards you.

When netting a fish, ensure to submerge it entirely. Allow the angler to lead the fish into the net. If you choose to earn the fish yourself, pull the rod tip directly up in the air. Ensuring the fishes head is above water, lift the net when to fish is drawn above it. Any sudden movements could lead to the fish being spooked and swimming away.



Trout is a sought-after world-class fish and held in high regard by many anglers. Their unique patterns and colours look genuinely remarkable. The issue with handling trout is that they have incredibly delicate skin. It is best to unhook these fish within the net and wet your hands before taking any photographs. Most fish are coated in a gooey like substance. This is a protective layer of mucus, and too much contact can damage that layer. Keeping your hands wet while you hold the fish will help you avoid doing so. This also applies if you are wearing gloves. Hold the trout within the water until it has gained stabilization and swims out of your hands.


Unhooking larger pikes can be an unprecedented challenge. Especially if the angle has chosen to use treble hooks, when the fish is netted, leave it in the water until it stops struggling and both you and the fish have had time to relax. Once the fish has recovered, place it onto a wet landing mat upside down between your legs. This will stop the fish from struggling. Run your hand underneath the gill plate. Make sure to avoid touching the gills, as this will seriously damage the fish. Take a firm grip and gently pull the bottom jaw open from this position. Use pliers to remove the hooks. If you choose to take a photo with your fish, remain in the exact grip and place your hand underneath the belly to support the pike. Hold the pike within the water until it has gained stabilization and swims out of your hands.


After catching a carp, gently place it on a wet landing mat. Wet your hands and slide both of them underneath the belly of the carp. Once your hands are under and in the correct position on either side of the fish, you can begin to turn the fish over into a lifting place. Slowly tilting your hands and using your forearms, you should tilt the fish around, so it is upright and lift it from this position. Poor unhooking skills employed by anglers damages the carp. Any damage to the carp should be treated with a care product. You can find fish care treatment for approximately £5.


Having the correct net for landing different species is essential. Many people within the fly fishing community now use rubber netting. This is because it will be easier to remove file hooks from the fish as it will not get caught in the mesh and will prevent damage to the fishes body. Trout are more delicate than most fish. This means using a landing net with good quality netting such as the retractable fishing net in stores (with a variation of sizes) is perfect for any other hardier fish such as pike, walleye, cod, pollock etc. Nets come in various sizes. Small handheld nets are suitable for fast-flowing rivers. Medium-sized nets are good for average-sized species such as bass, trout etc. More giant nets will be needed for salmon, pike and carp. Depending on the location you are fishing, a telescopic net may be required. On a boat or a high bank can prove challenging to land a fish without one.

Polarized Glasses

Having the correct polarized lenses can significantly increase the chance of landing a fish. The reason for this being polarized lenses help reduce the glare caused by the sun within the water. This allows the angler to see the fish easier and net it more efficiently. A wide variety of polarized glasses can be found within the store.

Fishing Pliers

Different fishing pliers are needed to ensure the safe removal of hooks. Smaller species like smallmouth bass or trout need more miniature pliers. In contrast, larger predatory fish such as the pike need large heavy-duty pliers.


Overall, being able to handle fish correctly is an important skill to learn for any angler. Developing a wide range of knowledge on fish handling is key to being a successful fisherman. Having the correct equipment will ensure the long-term safety of the fish within the region you are choosing for angling.

by Daniel ONeill

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