How to Land a Trout Without a Net: Read This First

September 29, 2021

Landing a trout is already a challenge on its own. How about landing it without a net?

Whether you forgot to pack a fishing net for your trip, or you want to revive the ancient fishing methods, catching fish without a net is an enjoyable experience. It becomes a fair fight between you and the fish, and you’ll need to use all the tricks up your sleeve to land your lunch for the day.

When you’re catching trout, landing them without a net becomes a challenge because you want to get the fish out of the water without injuring it. Trouts are generally susceptible to injuries, and they may die if their gills start bleeding.

So, aside from the landing technique, you’ll need to take care of the trout so as not to injure it. Here’s everything you need to know about how to land a trout without a net.

How to Land a Trout Without a Net: The Slip-and-Grab Technique

grabbing fish by tail

The slip and grab technique is one of the popular practices among anglers to land fish.

If you have your line ready and your trout fighting for its life at the end of it, you won’t need a net at all. Here’s how to land a trout using the technique.

  1. When your trout is starting to get tired of fighting, make sure it’s around a rod length away from where you’re standing.
  2. Next, pinch your line under your index finger in the rod hand, then strip the line from the reel. You’ll only need to strip about 10 feet or so of the line to land the fish.
  3. Raise the rod so that it’s in the breaking position. Instead of actually breaking it, let the slack line slip from under your index finger. You should let it take all the pressure from the rod tip. 
  4. If you do these movements quickly enough, the fly line’s tip should hit you lightly in the chest. If it happens, you’re doing it right.
  5. Using your other hand, grab the leader and start hand-lining the fish gently towards you. Once it’s close enough for you to tail it or hold it using its belly, grab it and remove the fly. 

You may find it weird that you’ll have to slip the line through your finger when you’ve obviously worked hard to get the fish.

However, if you do it right, there will be no risk of losing the trout. The technique takes some practice, but it’s the easiest way to catch a trout.

The highest risk of losing the fish is when you start hand-lining it. However, if you practice enough beforehand, you should be able to do it smoothly.

Do’s of Landing a Trout Without a Net

landed trout

When you’re trying to land the trout without a net, it’s essential to take care of the fish. If you don’t handle it properly, it may get harmed. So, here are some tips to follow when you’re landing the trout to ensure the fish’s safety.

  • Consider barbless hooks for the process. They’re safer than their alternatives. You may also use a single hook.
  • Use a heavy line for fishing. A light line will have you fight the fish for longer, and trouts are tough and mighty. You don’t want to tire yourself out before the big moment. Plus, if you exhaust the fish too much, its chances of surviving are slim.
  • Consider wearing gloves when handling the fish to avoid harming it. If you don’t wear gloves, keep your hands wet and cool before touching the fish.
  • If you want to hold the fish for a memory picture, grab it gently around the tail, using one hand. Then, use the other hand to cradle it carefully.
  • Keep your hands and equipment away from the fish’s gills and mouth.
  • Only grab the leader when the fish is directly below you or close enough, or else the leader may break.
  • Make sure your rod is pointing downstream when you have control of the leader.

Don’ts of Landing a Trout Without a Net

Now that we’re done with the tips, here are things to avoid when landing a trout. Although these fish are large and mighty, their bodies are fragile. If you hold them the wrong way, you could be doing significant harm without taking notice.

If you avoid these instances, the fish should be fine.

  • Don’t squeeze the fish’s body, especially when you’re holding it from around its belly.
  • Don’t use treble hooks, such as the double sets you find on some lures. 
  • Don’t touch the fish’s mouth or gills. If the fish bleeds from the gills, it won’t survive till the next day.
  • Don’t leave the fish on the boat’s deck or on a shore full of rocks. If the rocks or deck are hot enough, the fish will keep flapping around until it dies.
  • When fishing in a lake, don’t drag the fish too quickly from the deep water.
  • When tailing the fish, don’t grab the leader when the fish is directly below you. The water current will put a strain on the leader, and it may break.
  • Don’t grab the fish from the caudal fins. You may cause it to get a burst of energy, and it’ll work hard to slip free again.

Other Techniques to Land Fish Without a Net

steelhead rolling over

The slip-and-grab technique isn’t the only one to catch a fish without a net. There are multiple other techniques, but this one may be the best for trouts. If you’re catching other fish as well, you may try the following methods.

Not all of them will work with a trout, but you may get lucky.

Swing the Fish Into Your Boat

A lot of professional anglers love the swinging technique because it’s fun and it doesn’t harm the fish. Plus, it comes incredibly in handy when catching bass and similar species.

It’s worth noting that it doesn’t work in all situations, though, and I’ll tell you why.

The swinging technique depends on the fish’s momentum. You wait for the perfect moment, and you swing it up right into your boat. If the fish isn’t hooked well, the method won’t work. On top of that, it may not work if you’re a second earlier or later because the fish will lose its momentum.

You’ll need to do as follows: wait until the fish is approaching the boat, then make sure it’s hooked tightly. Next, place your hand above the reel seat, and keep the other one on the rod’s butt.

When the fish comes within range, swing it instantly with fluid motion, and make sure to keep your hands ready to hold the fish when it’s in the air.

Try not to let the fish touch the deck or come in contact with the boat. If it’s a trout, its gills may get harmed.

Now that you know how it’s done, here are some precautions to take care of:

  • If the rod is weak and the fish is heavy, the rod may break.
  • If your hook is thin, the fish will likely slip out of it when you swing it.
  • If the fish is too heavy for the line, it may snap under the weight.
  • If the fish hits the boat strongly when you swing it, it may get injured.

Land the Fish by Its Belly

When you forget the fishing net, you have only a few options to land your fish. Most anglers resort to holding the fish using its mouth. However, if you’re catching a trout, that won’t work.

Even if you’re catching another fish, getting your fingers into a fish’s mouth full of hooks isn’t safe per se.

The best second alternative is landing the fish using its belly. You’ll need to be careful, especially with vulnerable species like trouts. But it should be easy enough once you get the hang of it.

All you have to do is wait until the fish is close enough and grab it by the belly to land it.

The technique causes the fish to lose their fight, which is good news if you’re catching a challenging breed. 

On top of that, the method is ideal if you’re using a light line. In this case, if you try to land the fish by its mouth, things could go south fast because the fish will be able to escape, especially if it’s not hooked well in the first place.

To Wrap Up

Landing a trout without a net may be a challenge, but it’s not as hard as it seems. If you have control of your leader and fish, things should go smoothly enough. Remember to keep your hands away from the fish’s gills and wear gloves for better results.

Also, using barbless hooks would be a wise decision.

If you’re trying the swinging method, make sure to practice it a few times to prevent injuring the fish in the process.

We hope you catch a bunch of trouts on your next net-free trip!

Happy Hunting!

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