How to Fight a Fish?

How an angler overcome a fish & eventually land it safely depends a lot on experience accumulated over the years as each fight differs from the next. One never can apply the techniques in How to Fight a Fish? after a lesson or just by talking to another person because everything you’ve heard from others will disappear the moment you succumb to the adrenalin rush. And your mind will be in a blank!

Application of techniques learned has to come naturally in response to each situation without even you being aware of it…because there is hardly time for you to think & react…every action has to come naturally…& this will take years of subduing many fish to master.

Having said the above all I’m attempting to do here is to highlight some points which I think we should be aware of.

I emphasize all information shared in this blog is just my personal opinion & experience which some may beg to differ 🙂 If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them at the end of this post.

Points to Note

  • Top of the list is…maintain a TIGHT LINEAT ALL TIMES during the fight. And you need a properly loaded rod to do this. This is basic physics…as a tight line will impart the force needed for the hook point to stay embedded. A loose line with a struggling fish is recipe for failure.
  • When drag is screaming let the rod & reel do their job to maintain tight line without any additional hook setting or retrieving from the angler…as doing so will put on more stress in the tackle set up. When fish decides to swim towards you then it’s time to do your job by reeling fast to maintain tight line.
loaded rod with a good bend
Maintain tight line with a loaded rod
  • When fish decides to turn & swim sideway away from you turn your body quickly to face it with your bent rod pointing towards it. Never face your rod to the right with your fish running towards your left.
  • Keep your distance to fish as short as possible by shifting body position to follow the fish when necessary whether on a boat or on shore. This will give you better overall control in the fight compared to a long line with a runaway fish to your left or right. On a boat shortest distance to fish is when it’s directly below you; on shore shortest distance to fish is when your line is at 90 degrees to shoreline…so MOVE your BUTT!

Hint: Adjusting rod & body angle or position relative to fish may be a challenge at night as you may not be able to see the line or any surface commotion in darkness. It will be helpful if you can keep a torchlight handy at all times at night to provide you with visual aid of the line & the fish whereabout.

  • Use short stroke of the rod to pump in your fish which is a more effective technique in bringing in your catch fast. Pump rod towards you to bring fish forward at the same time reeling in line when rod is returned forward…maintaining tight line at all times! Do not use your reel to winch in or winch up your catch.
  • When fighting a fish near boat, never ever high-stick a rod by bringing it towards your body (in an almost vertical position) & thrusting it upwards at the same time in a desperate bid to bring in your catch. Rods are not designed to be used this way which will usually result in broken tips or pieces. To bring in your catch near the boat, the correct way is to reel in more line faster at the same time lowering your rod to control the end fight. Be prepared to move forward quickly before thrusting your rod into the water if fish tries to make a last minute dash under the boat. This is to avoid rod & line hitting or rubbing against boat edge.
  • Always let your rod have a natural bend whether fighting from shore or on boat. You need to bear this in mind all the time & especially when landing the fish near you to avoid any line or tackle failure. If you noticed an unnatural bend, lower your rod immediately towards the fish to back off any stress on the blank.
How long will rod last?
How long will rod last?

Hint: Some manufacturers will provide some angles you should never lift your rod to under load but honestly during the excitement of the fight it will be hard for one to remember. It has to come with experience. Personally I think as long as you DO NOT bring rod close to body during fight & thrusting it upwards at the same time…you should be fine!

But if you definitely need an ANGLE…use 45 degree as a guide on the max angle you should lift your rod to under load.

  • When fish is at boat side I’ve the habit of backing off ie. reducing drag 1 or 2 quarter turns in case of any sudden burst when fish gets spooked by sight of boat, landing net or the anglers. This should minimize burst line, tackle failure or rod hitting against boat side. Don’t forget to reset your drag before the next cast.
  • Once fish is landed it’s a good habit to flip over bail arm to let out line before placing rod into rod holder. This is to prevent a jumping fish on deck from breaking your rod tip as well as someone tripping over the taut line.

Additional Points to Note…for Bigger Fish

I believe the above points are good enough for small to medium size fish but when it comes to a biggie that can set your tight drag screaming, heart racing & adrenalin gushing then it needs to call for more measures. But the above still applies to big fish…in fact they apply to all forms of fishing covered in this blog.

  • For a hard fighting fish on boat a good body stance is needed with locked elbow, bent knees & body leaning backwards to counter force from running fish. Locked elbow refers to a straighten elbow like in tennis.
  • Good angle is needed on the rod too to control fish & to prevent high-sticking.
Natural bend on rod...with good body stance
Good angle on rod…with proper body stance

Hint: I’ve seen many pics & video clips of inexperienced anglers holding onto the rod where the reel seat is…which is incorrect! One should be holding further up on the rod where the foregrip is to gain maximum leverage. Note the 3 points forming a Triangle…1) armpit 2) hand on foregrip 3) rod end anchoring in waist gimbal.

  • Use short strokes of the rod to pump in the fish when it has stopped running using your body weight as leverage leaning backwards. Thereafter bring rod forward at the same time reeling in line maintaining line tightness at all times. Keep repeating until fish is subdued…hopefully before you’re totally drained.

Hint: Want to emphasize the above words “when it has stopped running”…DO NOT pump in fish with a screaming drag! If you do something in your tackle setup will likely give way…which is probably your weakest link

  • To maintain a good body stance a reliable waist gimbal is needed to provide comfort & safety to the angler. In the process of upgrading my old gimbal & still considering getting a new one from either Braid ( Amazon / eBay / Tackle Direct ) or Swage.
  • In addition a reliable, durable & comfortable pair of Shimano Evair deck shoes ( Amazon / eBay / Tackle Direct ) is needed to provide secure & slip-proof foothold on the slippery deck when fighting a fish. I had tried doing it barefooted but failed miserably with a sore bum, bruised ego & a lost GT!
  • It’s advisable before the trip to prepare your body to face some abuse from the fish by doing some regular resistance training eg. dumbbells, elastic bands, jogging, etc. Such preparation will definitely lessen the pain suffered during & after a heavy jigging & popping trip.

Happy Pumping!

All the best,

PS: Please leave a comment if any information in this site is inaccurate or incorrect…I’m learning too 🙂

As I’m an Affiliate Marketer, if you make any purchase thru the text or image links provided in the posts, I may be compensated by the merchants with a small token for time & effort spent in maintaining this blog. Thank you

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