I typically throw up stream and retrieve downstream. My speed of retrieve varies on the seasons. I even stop and start on occasions. I sometimes let the spinner drop for a full two seconds. I seldom throw downstream and retrieve. Sometimes I cross current retrieve.
I throw upstream purposely because trout typically face upstream looking for their next meal. Current brings them their meals. The biggest alpha trout in the run will have the first position to assess the food coming to them. They sometimes don’t see the offering but feel the spinner or stick bait going through their territory with their lateral lines. This can be from a poor ill placed cast or the big dog being tucked under cover and the retrieve sounded its dinner bell.
I watched my friend John Armstrong try to catch up with a trout pulling a bull rush on him. He stripped his fly rod like a master but was not able to catch up with the bull. It dropped it shortly there after.
This type of aggression by a trout gives you special tactical problems. Many times the poor cast is caused by a tight quarters cast into a snaggy mess. You need to prepare yourself before the cast. You need to be two steps ahead of the hog that just chased your spinner downstream.
This situation presents you with a real problem. If the big dog hits facing upstream the hook set is much easier. There is an automatic resistance and the hook penetration is much easier. The bull rush hit is the hardest to land.
You need to train yourself to snap up on a hook set. Don’t be passive and let the reeling in set the hook. If that big hog is running straight at you the lack of a good hook set it can be a bad dream that evening as you see that HUGE trout motor downstream and wave at you as it spits the hook.
I have had it happen four times in my life. Every time the trout was enormous and I was left slack jawed and scratching my head on what I did wrong. One time it was a countdown rapala and I watched the big male swim past me downstream with the lure crosswise in it mouth. I reeled for all I was worth and could not catch up with the bull rushing monster. By the time I caught up with the lure the fish had decided it was not real food and dropped it.
I had this same scenario happen recently. I cast into a log jam root system. I was wedged between a couple of smaller saplings. The cast was not good. It was an underhand pendulum cast. I did not make it to the sweet spot I wanted. The lay was just too fishy to not try the cast.
All of a sudden I saw my line screaming downstream. I did not feel a hit. I was stunned and unprepared. I attempted a hook set but there was too much slack in the line. I reeled for all I was worth but I couldn’t catch up to the bull rushing monster. I watched the dark spotted 26-27 inch fat female brown pass me by downstream and then my line went limp. She dropped my panther martin. I swore audibly and sat down.
I try to solve fishing problems while they are fresh in my memory. What could I have done differently? I cursed myself for not being more aggressive when I saw the first movement of the line. I am not sure if that would have helped. I thought maybe a shorter rod would have been easier to set while standing on my head basically to cast. My retrieve ratio of my reel was good but not good enough to catch up with the speeding monster.
I decided a rematch is in order in the near future. Big trout are very territorial and will stay in a good lay due to the cover it allows. Just before I left I bent over the two saplings that I had been wedged in between and made sure they were down and out of the way. I broke off some over hanging limps to make the area more hook set friendly. As I left I took a mental picture of the big female’s home so it would be easier to locate on a return trip. I took the above photo also. I was on the left bank right in the mess. I am planning the next dance in a couple weeks.