Grip, on the market. These essentially
take the place of your fingers and can
be particularly useful when landing fish
with sharp teeth.
Swinging Them Aboard
Swinging fish over the gunwales is another risky way to land a fish. The procedure
is simple: When you’ve reeled the fish
close to the boat, lean down and grab the
fishing line, then quickly yank your catch
out of the water and swing it into the
boat. This is risky because, as you might
surmise, the fish sometimes flies right
off the hook in the middle of the swing.
Other times, the sudden stress breaks
your line. Again, however, this method
is advantageous because it’s fast, simple,
and requires no extra gear. Making your
fish fly can also be also quite entertaining,
particularly on crowded boats.
A note of caution: Swinging fish
aboard should only be attempted with
relatively small fish that are nowhere near
the maximum breaking strength of your
fishing line. Remember, during the fight
the fish’s body is supported by the water.
The moment you lift it out of the water,
the amount of weight it puts on your fishing line increases dramatically.
■ Grab the line too close to the fish and
you increase the chances of it breaking.
Grab it too far from the fish and you
might not swing high enough to clear
the rails or gunwales. Generally speaking, grabbing the line two to three feet
above the fish is ideal.
■ Never grab braided line when swinging
in a fish over a pound or two, because
that line can cut into your fingers.
Using a four-foot length of monofilament leader on the end of a braided
main line prevents this problem.
■ Be careful not to high-stick the rod
– that is, point it directly up – as you
reach down to grab the line or you
might break your rod.
Gaffs are usually reserved for the largest,
toughest-to-land fish, like tunas, shark,
and swordfish. In fact, short of carrying over-the-top gear like harpoons and
firearms, there aren’t any other options
when it comes to landing those powerful
pelagics. Fixed gaffs –
poles with a big hook
on the end – are used
for fish weighing as
much as a couple of
and true monsters
are tackled with flying gaffs, which have
a detachable hook
that’s tied to heavy
rope and secured to a
What are the downsides to gaffing?
For starters, catch-and-release fishing
isn’t an option. Gaffing also makes quite
a mess. You can expect your boat, clothes,
and pretty much everything aboard to get
splattered with blood and fish gore. You
When swinging a fish aboard, try to grab
the leader two to three feet above the fish.
Gaffing is quite effective – and quite messy.
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