If a fish, possibly even a big one, has bitten a fish, an exciting fight can begin, which can last from seconds to hours. The drill is probably the most exciting part of fishing, because with bigger fish you never know for sure what will happen and whether you will be able to land the fish. Unfortunately one thing is clear, after reading this article you will at least theoretically know how to drill properly. But you can only learn how to drill in practice, and best of all, even with a fish that you can’t hold. One thing is certain for me: the thrill of a capital fish is not so easy to forget. Nevertheless, I always keep my drills as short as possible, simply because of the animal welfare and because a completely drilled fish often has a poor chance of survival. After all, sometimes you have to put fish back.
For those who already know how to drill, here it goes directly to >> “my drills” further down on page
How to drill short and sweet
Drilling is actually not that difficult and I have a simple but almost sure recipe for you in a few steps:
- Keep the fishing rod no matter what, always keep the tension on, even if the fish jumps and tries to pull it towards you. This is also the most common mistake: the rod tip must always be bent
- If you can bring the fish in, do it immediately, for bigger fish you have to pump up the rod, otherwise just crank it up
- In some cases the fish is far to the left or right of you then you can also hold the rod parallel to the water or only lift it slightly but the rod tip must always be bent
- If the fish goes into the brake and pulls – just stop cranking and wait until the fish stops. Now you might have time to open the brake slowly
- If the fish swims towards you: crank what it is holding to get tension again. This happens very rarely
- Keep the fish away from obstacles or sharp stones (especially at the sea) you might have to increase the pressure
- In the final phase of the drill when the fish is a few meters in front of you open the brake slightly and your line will not bounce as much and fish tend to flee hard, when he notices you or the landing net
After the drill follows the landing net, how to do it correctly you will find in my landing net guide article >>
The correct brake setting for the drill
The brake should always be adjusted to the line and the tackle. I always think about where the weak point is and pay attention to it. Often I personally always fish a bit too strong than too weak and so I don’t get any more problems. Nevertheless it depends on the tackle and the fishing technique how strong the brake is adjusted.
Usually a “hand” brake setting is never wrong for starting the drill of larger fish (carp, pike, pike-perch, etc.). By this I mean that you can just about pull the line off the reel without breaking the line. It also makes it easier to get the first shot through, which is especially important when fishing for zander. Here I slam the brake almost completely tight. But after the first try I often open it again quickly.
When fishing for smaller fish with fine tackle I’ve also softened the brake a bit – the line or the knot on the swivel often doesn’t allow the brake to slam.
When spin fishing I have the following rule: if the lure pulls line from the reel while guiding, the brake is set too weak. Now and then a single click of the slide on the reel is usually OK, though.
It is important to open the brake a little bit in the final phase of the drill, otherwise there can be problems with sudden escapes.
Fighting with the fish is made more difficult if there are obstacles in the water or sharp-edged stones.
Pumping means lifting and lowering the fishing rod to pull the fish. This is often necessary, especially with large fish. The rod tip is lowered from a 90° position to a 30-45° position and the line is immediately wound in. Then the rod is lifted up again and the whole thing starts again.
Frequent mistakes when drilling this happens
From the boat Drilling from the boat this is important
When fishing from the boat it can always happen that the fish goes under the boat. Here the line can rub along the boat and usually gives up immediately. Therefore, depending on the boat, you can either partially submerge the rod or change sides on the boat. Boats with little draft are less problematic here.
If you fish vertically or if the fish is almost vertical under the boat at the end of the drill, the rod should of course be kept parallel to the water so that it can work optimally.
My most exciting drills
I always found the drills particularly exciting when I didn’t know what was at the other end or when I fished for a species of fish for the first time and didn’t know how the fish behaved in the drill. If you are fishing abroad outside of Germany’s neighbouring countries, there is always a big surprise hanging on the line. Of course this also happens in Germany, but it is of course much rarer if you know your waters.
On the Adriatic
Especially in the sea these surprises happen more often and because here often “everything swims” you can also have a big surprise on the hook. So I was with a friend of mine a while ago on the Adriatic Sea and we were speed-jigging at a barely fished hotspot, when suddenly there was a lot of weight in the rod. This time it was not one of the many hooks, but it could be moved for a short time before nothing worked again, but what worked was my brake and it worked continuously. The fish pulled about 50m from the brake until it stopped and let itself be pumped up. The fish made then however quite fast a second and a third escape.
The fight went on for 45 minutes. Generally I am a bit careful with this information from fishing colleagues, but here we actually looked at the clock when it became clear that it would take longer. Unfortunately, something really annoying happened and a fishing boat drove over our line and the fish was already near the surface. The line snapped immediately and I was extremely annoyed. Nevertheless it was an extremely exciting fight.
The whole thing was very exciting because the fish remains mysterious until now. My guess is a big dentex, because they are very likely for the spot. However, circling from right to left could also point to something tuna-like. By the way, the device was a heavy pike spinning rod with a casting weight of 120g which was bent like a bow. The lure was a sand eel shaped 80g speedjig.
On the Canary Islands
The ray in the picture above was a little less exciting. So I caught him on a night fishing tour off the Canary Islands on natural bait. After the bite it was clear quite fast what it was. Rays are not very fast but incredibly persistent. Nevertheless the fight lasted only 25 minutes, whereby the fish wrapped itself around the anchor chain a few more times and had to be freed. The heavy marine gear was also designed for larger hawsers and had more than enough power for the ~45 kg stingray. Nevertheless without the guides I would have never managed it. The most exciting thing was the poison sting, which was best kept away from.
On a dream beach with a plugs – bite on announcement
Really exciting was also the fight with the following fish, which I unfortunately couldn’t land – it was probably a GT or Barracuda. The fish bit in the very shallow water in the evening at high tide.