Reel It in Quickly
Even the most adept hook-removing skills may not help your fish if the animal has been played to the point of physical collapse. Research shows that after hook location, the second most important factor in the survival of a hooked fish is the amount of physiological stress the fish is subjected to during the course of the struggle. A fish that's been pushed to exhaustion has the least chance of staying alive, while one caught and released with sub-lethal stress will recover within 24 hours, to the extent that it will show no measurable effects from the experience. That's why it's crucial for you to bring in a fish as quickly as possible. To increase your chances of doing that, use a heavier leader. Even if you don't catch as many fish as a result, they're more likely to survive when you throw them back.