After the Strike
By Capt. Gus Cane
World record-holders will quickly agree there is much more to skilled angling than simply finding and hooking a fish. The battle, especially with large, powerful game fish, is just beginning after the strike. In order to successfully whip an adversary that often exceeds the strength of the line by several multipliers requires knowledge, finesse, and patience.
Knowing the line and having the drag set properly are two critical aspects. Monofilament line has a tendency to stretch, especially with lighter pound test. Certain classes of mono are marketed to meet a specified line rating for tournaments and records, while others may vary somewhat on the heavier side. Braided or spectra-fiber line is popular because of its sensitivity and smaller diameter. Braid does typically exceed its stated class rating, however.
Regardless of line, a smooth drag set to the correct tightness is key. The normal setting is one-third the breaking strength of the line. In other words, 20-pound test line should have a drag setting of no more than 6 to 6 1/2 pounds. Drags can be measured with a scale after the reel has been warmed up (pull on the line several times to loosen the drag washers and ensure accurate readings). Once a drag has been set, it shouldn’t be tightened.
Drags can and often should be loosened, though. Once the fish is solidly hooked, slightly backing off the drag lessens the strain on the line while the other rods are being cleared or the fish makes a lengthy run. As more line pays off the spool, the resistance from the water actually increases the drag, and the problem compounds when a big belly or bow forms. Loosening the drag reduces the risk of pulling the hook or breaking the line.
The boat operator has a crucial role too. Keeping the boat at a direct angle or as much as possible to the fish helps maintain the desired connection. The skipper may have to power forward or back down hard on the fish to maintain the best angle and keep the line taut.
Once the initial runs are over, making sure, the fish goes the way you want it to will shorten the fight. Dictate the direction it’s heading by changing angles of the rod. Keep the fish disoriented. This “down and dirty” style prevents it from gaining momentum. Anticipate last-ditch surges, have the wingman ready for the net or gaff and the fight will soon be over.
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Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com