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PRO TIPS: Here's Why You Should Always Bow To A Jumping Fish


The tarpon broke the surface for the first time, porpoising a good 3 feet out of the water, shaking its head with almost unfathomable strength. "GET DOWN GET DOWN!" my guide yelled from the platform. I immediately bent down, pointed my rod at the airborne fish, and held my breath. It was my first tarpon, but I'd watched enough tarpon videos to know what to do - I just had no idea why I was doing it.
Getting down, or "taking a bow" is a popular tactic used by tarpon anglers when a fish breaks the surface. To some freshwater anglers it can seem counterintuitive, or downright crazy, yet it works, and here's why:
Bowing to a leaping tarpon will relieve pressure on your tippet and hook, and give you a better chance at landing the fish.
By bowing and pointing your rod at the fish, you are relieving tension on your line and actually providing slack. While normally slack is an anglers enemy while fighting a fish in the water, when a fish is out of the water, all the fish's weight is suddenly applied directly to your line, tippet, and hook. For a 100+lb shaking tarpon, that's a lot of pressure and it can easily cause your tippet to snap or hook to pop off in an instant. By bowing and providing slack, you will help relieve the pressure on your line and hook, giving yourself a better chance at landing the fish. 
Here's how to bow to a fish:
1. Keep your eye on your line, as it moves towards the surface - get ready
2. As soon as the fish breaks the surface, bend your knees and extend your arms aiming your rod tip directly at the fish
3. Stay down for the entirety of the jump. Once the fish crashes back into the water resume normal fighting stance and be ready for the next jump
While already an established tactic among tarpon anglers, bowing is also gaining steam in the freshwater angling community. If you've ever fished for bass or salmon, you know how easily your hook can be thrown. Although a smaller scale than tarpon, the principles of bowing remain the same. The next time a wily largemouth breaks through the lily pads, take a bow, point your rod, and hold your breath.