Fighting the fish styles??

JTE

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So, I watched the video on Fins-N-Feathers trip report........lots of fish being fought / caught, some up to 200+/-lbs........looks like it was a good trip. Good video.

I've never been on a long range boat fish trip, but have fished salt water, offshore & inshore, for 40+ years. I'm booked on my 1st long range trip this coming Thanksgiving (11 day on the Independence), so have been "studying hard" for a few months to get up to speed on tackle, gear, fishing methods and fighting styles.

As I've said, I'm not a newbie saltwater fisherman, but all of my boat fishing has been on smaller private boats (mine & friends), pangas, and charter 6-pack boats. "Rail" fighting of fish is something that is not done on these boats - we "stand up" (w/ or without belt) or chair fight our fish, harness would only be used on really large fish. Additionally, line strengths for the style of fishing I've done has been much less than you guys use - for TLD 25/30 reels, I would use 30lb (mono), and on charter boats for yellowfin (85lb max) we have used 50lb mono.

When I first heard of "Rail" fighting reading this forum, I figured I better study up for my upcoming trip, so have read a few articles and watched a few videos. Then, day before yesterday I watched the Fins-n-Feathers video: The style/method of fish fighting I mostly saw on this video is what I would call a hybrid of rail and standup. Also, lots of guys wearing fighting belts.

I understand the concept of rail fighting: no way I want to be hooked up to a 150+lb yellowfin, with 80lb line (30lb drag), using fighting belt for a standup fight - I'll let the rail take most of the abuse. But for smaller fish on lighter lines (wahoo and yellowtail, etc.), I think I'll maintain my ability to standup fight and bring a fighting belt with me. I will not bring a harness as I've landed some pretty good fish standup without one (80lb yellowfin on 50lb line, 92lb wahoo on 20lb, 300lb mako on 30lb). I've used a harness but can see it would be very impractical on a long range boat.

Also, spinning rod/reel set-ups?? Does nobody out there use them ? (for yellowtail and/or wahoo) Much easier to cast bombs / lures and fish sabikis (for bait). I'm gonna bring 2 with big Dawai BG reels spooled with 50lb braid (350 yds) and plan to use them.

Thanks for any input, Jim
 
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Brandon Miller
Brandon Miller
Jim I am on this trip as well, actually as the charter master. Trust me, there are several experience long rangers joining us on this trip as well as a fantastic and experienced crew. If we get into big fish just listen to their advice. Everyone wants to see you succeed and if we work together it will happen. See you in 2 months, can’t wait!

Brandon
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AKSalmon

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    Sold my Parker. You can find me on the Red Rooster.
    You may be the only person on the boat with any spinning tackle. For many people, casting spinners is easier; however, you can't use the rail with spinning tackle and that will matter if you get a tuna much over about 50 pounds. The reason we use such heavy tackle on sport boats is that you can't chase the fish like you can with a panga or cruiser. You're in one spot and have to wrench the fish to you. Not always easy with a big fish. Very few LR fishermen bring harnesses; knee pads are much more common. Whatever, you'll have a great time.
     
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    alan760

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    Knee pads are a good protection against a staph infection from scraps and scratches from deck. Staph/cellulitis infection for a few days can be miserable.
    Have fun!!!
    I second knee pads especially for big fish fights. I use a volleyball knee pad and it saves my knee from bruises and scrapes for sure. I bring 2 sets because they get soaked and a bit funky after a few days so its nice to have a dry set. Harbor freight sell some cheap ones that work just as good and you can put on without taking off your boot. Also I wear a 3/4 finger sailing glove on my left hand which is the hand I use to palm the reel when fighting a fish with the rail. Except for my trolling reel I remove the left side lug so there is nothing to chafe my hand when I palm the reel. Some people remove both lugs. Probably not an issue on a 11 day but for my 14 day I have also used a shoulder strap to take the load off my hands and shoulder from holding a 20 or 30 size reel all day.
     
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    locvetter

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    If you are in southern California consider spending 10 minutes with fishordie Jamie Massion at Bob Sands. I had about 55 years of experience when I took him up on his offer of some tips. Lots of great nuggets. Considering the out there part versus the up and down parts of the fight and rod holding options are very interesting. He has a makeshift rail to play with.
     
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    afraser

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    You will want to use different stance and techniques during a single fish, especially if it goes extra innings (eg, over an hour). Palm side plate with left hand rod butt under left armpit rod pointed down toward the fish at 45 degrees, sitting on butt with left hand on top of reel, when at stern rod around corner opposite of the direction of the line to get extra leverage. There is also a standing technique where you point the rod tip directly at the fish and step back and forth to bring line in, but I'm not an expert at that one. When fish is out, putting the butt on your hip or in a simple rod belt and keeping the arm holding the rod very straight and using your body to pull back on the rod, not your arms.

    You can use spinners for wahoo, tuna to 100#, and yellowtail, people do it all the time. You don't get to use the rail so a simple rod belt will help a lot, or if you really want, you can set up a harness for a spinner using a "braid" spin strap on a regular harness.
     
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    locvetter

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    If you are in southern California consider spending 10 minutes with fishordie Jamie Massion at Bob Sands. I had about 55 years of experience when I took him up on his offer of some tips. Lots of great nuggets. Considering the out there patr versus the up and down parts of the fight and rod holding options are very interesting. He has a makeshift rail to play with≥
     
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    FishRock

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    This link is to an old post from Jamie/Fishordie that I book marked so I would not lose it. Well worth a read and should answer many questions along with inspiring many more.


    Ultimately you will just need to fight a few dozen big fish to start getting a full appreciation for what works and when. Every fish is different. The biggest mistake I keep making is to start believing that I know how the fight will progress. Every time I think I know what is going to happen next a big fish does just the opposite and takes the wind out of my sails and I have to regroup and get back in the fight. So far my longest fight has been 2 hours 10 min. on a 375# YFT that never laid down. And before folks start saying I should have used more drag, the reel was set at 33 lbs. at strike with a full spool and most of that fight took place with half a spool or less. Think of it like a wrestling match. If what your doing is not working, is hurting you or wearing you out, try something different.

    No matter what, listen to your wingman. Anytime a new angler is on a good fish there will be an experienced crew member right next to them.
     
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    RichG
    Well written... Plus as you get older your knees don't work as well. I use both when necessary
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    nicodemus

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    Thanks FishRock. Another one of Jamie's tomes that I'm copying and pasting into Word to study when I have time. :D
     
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    45king

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    In our minds we all think we have the choice of fighting these big bluefin a certain way until u hook one and realize this mofo is trying to rip the rod out of your hands and is trying to pull u in. 30lbs of drag will pull someone off balance into the water in a hurry! Once U feel the wrath of one then u will understand! The tug is the drug my dude! Get it how u can! Take every fucking inch!!

    Good luck on your trip. Keep us posted please!!!!!
     
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    BlueFinGrin

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    Take your harness and belt-pad with you on this trip. When/if your turn on the kite comes up, you'll have a piece of equipment that you're comfortable with. Nothing worse than a prolonged stay in kite jail... or fighting a cow for several hours with an unfamiliar, ill-fitting harness. Once you've mastered the rail, the harness will mainly serve you while on the kite. And don't forget.., keep BOTH feet on the deck when on a big fish - and in the harness.., no joking. The Indy is a awesome ride, enjoy it to the fullest!!!
     
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    JTE

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    Would only use my spinning gear (loaded w/ 50lb braid) for bait and targeting smaller fish (wahoo and yellowtail) and would not try to use it on the rail - i've landed some big mahi and cobia (50lb+) on this tackle.

    Great input from all you guys - I'll bring a rod belt, gloves and knee pads.

    Thanks, Jim
     
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    Apr 10, 2019
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    Remember to bring lots of finger tape. You can never have too much of it. Also, don’t forget a set of waterproof jacket and pants, since you are going in November. I was on the Indy last December on a 5 day. It rained like hell on one of the days. Great fun! There will probably be some swell on the sea in November, so learn to use the rise and fall of the boat to help you gain line on a big fish. Focus on your rod tip when it is on the rail. As the boat lowers, and the rod tip rises, wind down until you get a good bend in the rod. Wait for the next swell to raise the boat and repeat. One last thing: when using a 2 speed reel, practice going from high to low gear, and back before you get bit. It is a skill that must be practiced. Good luck!
     
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    Tim Turis

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    “I've never been on a long range boat fish trip…”

    “I've used a harness but can see it would be very impractical on a long range boat.

    I’d like to share a few data points from a long time pad/harness and short rod LR fisherman; probably one of the few left here on BD.

    When I started fishing long range almost 30 years ago, almost all anglers were using pads/harnesses (Braid, Taniguchi, Ripoff, Izor, and others). And although most anglers now use the rail, some anglers still use pads/harnesses and use them very effectively (myself included).

    Fighting a fish using the rail can be a very effective technique. Some of the best LR fisherman that I’ve ever fished with use the rail. I’ve seen John Nappo, David Choate, Steve Lindsey, and others put huge amounts of pressure on fish using the rail. But at almost 6’-4”, kneeling/squatting down to use the rail is not practical for me. I know that in a harness, I can put a lot of pressure on a fish; particularly when that fish is away from the boat. I also know that when the fish is up/down I can sit in the harness and put lots of pressure on that same fish all the while saving my arms for the end.

    And I’m also able/know when to get out of the harness and back off the drag to be able to move around the boat and other anglers. Pinned to the rail/lack of mobility is often cited as a downside to using a pad/harness, but lack of mobility is not exclusive to pad/harness fisherman. Many times it is caused by lack of a angler strength/angler not backing off the drag while maneuvering around the boat/other anglers.

    Please feel free to reach out if I can help with more info about using the pad/harness or LR fishing in general.

    And good luck on your trip. After Thanksgiving is historically a really good time to fish for big ones. The last picture is of two fish I caught on the Excel after Thanksgiving 12 day in 2020.

    3A22F30B-CDF1-462C-995B-622C73E4575F.jpeg


    E950E811-A7D2-4EF0-BA4C-314496E8F73A.jpeg


    7BF14ED8-0464-460C-BB99-6DBF1E0880DE.jpeg


    94DA768B-C6C1-44C3-B946-D3934E1981E8.jpeg
     
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    FishRock

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    I would be using a bucket and harness but I am not coordinated enough to shift my 2-speed reel let alone get in and out of a harness. Mobility is key and you can be mobile with any setup if you think about it.

    I have been told that there is an old school angler still fishing long range that uses a harness and never lets the crew touch his rod during a fight. He will even unclip and crawl around on the bow to clear the anchor line by himself. Now that is an experienced and motivated angler. One day I may get to that level, yes one day. :-)
     
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    dtf
    Sounds like some of the Excel old boys 🤭 🤭 🤭
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    locvetter

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    I would be using a bucket and harness but I am not coordinated enough to shift my 2-speed reel let alone get in and out of a harness. Mobility is key and you can be mobile with any setup if you think about it.

    I have been told that there is an old school angler still fishing long range that uses a harness and never lets the crew touch his rod during a fight. He will even unclip and crawl around on the bow to clear the anchor line by himself. Now that is an experienced and motivated angler. One day I may get to that level, yes one day. :-)
    Likely Bruce P. Also one of the nicest people I have ever met. Catch and release everything - several cows on the trip I was on!
     
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    Soda Pop

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    “I've never been on a long range boat fish trip…”

    “I've used a harness but can see it would be very impractical on a long range boat.

    I’d like to share a few data points from a long time pad/harness and short rod LR fisherman; probably one of the few left here on BD.

    When I started fishing long range almost 30 years ago, almost all anglers were using pads/harnesses (Braid, Taniguchi, Ripoff, Izor, and others). And although most anglers now use the rail, some anglers still use pads/harnesses and use them very effectively (myself included).

    Fighting a fish using the rail can be a very effective technique. Some of the best LR fisherman that I’ve ever fished with use the rail. I’ve seen John Nappo, David Choate, Steve Lindsey, and others put huge amounts of pressure on fish using the rail. But at almost 6’-4”, kneeling/squatting down to use the rail is not practical for me. I know that in a harness, I can put a lot of pressure on a fish; particularly when that fish is away from the boat. I also know that when the fish is up/down I can sit in the harness and put lots of pressure on that same fish all the while saving my arms for the end.

    And I’m also able/know when to get out of the harness and back off the drag to be able to move around the boat and other anglers. Pinned to the rail/lack of mobility is often cited as a downside to using a pad/harness, but lack of mobility is not exclusive to pad/harness fisherman. Many times it is caused by lack of a angler strength/angler not backing off the drag while maneuvering around the boat/other anglers.

    Please feel free to reach out if I can help with more info about using the pad/harness or LR fishing in general.

    And good luck on your trip. After Thanksgiving is historically a really good time to fish for big ones. The last picture is of two fish I caught on the Excel after Thanksgiving 12 day in 2020.

    View attachment 1321234

    View attachment 1321235

    View attachment 1321236

    View attachment 1321237
    Tim is the best I have ever seen a guy using the harness. You want to ask how to fish the harness this is the guy you want to pick his brain. I have fished with Tim and he's a master of this type of fishing. I like the rail. I am 5'3 and the rail is my friend. It's always a great treat fishing with Tim. See you at the docks Tim. I am on the 2nd Lupe trip in December on the Excel.
     

    ZZZZZ

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    Dec 11, 2003
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    I'm 5'8".5 :D. When using the rail. My knees do not touch the deck and I also do not use my crotch to put pressure on a fish. Using the knees range as a major fish fighting tool. While allowing my upper body weight to hang on the rod and not on the deck, for pressure. I use a low center of gravity surfer stance (duck foot). Ready to move at a moments notice. Not pinned to the the rail

    My first 9 bft between 70-123lbs on a singleg drift. Spirit of Adventure 4 day 1992 age 15. Nobody used the rail. That I noticed. Single speeds. I used a Penn 4/0

    1996 royal star high school graduation 8 day. I don't recall anyone using the rail. Only one big yft but don't remember people railing YT.

    Then moved abroad for a few years. When I got back in 2003 went on a 11 day.

    My first large YFT besides a dumb luck PV super. Was 5 at Aljos in 2003 on the 70-112lb gill amd guted. Did not use the rail.

    Then in 2004. Learned the rail and love the pressure

    But the ultimate is no rail with a rod belt. Single speed.

    Hooked a 170lb YFT on a TN30 700H. When a rod bottoms out. The arms need to lift the fish
     
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    Scold

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    Be like Ralph Mikkelson and fish nothing but 80’s with no harness, just a plate.

    Or be like me and teeter totter on the rod as I sit on the butt end.
     
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    JohnTFT

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    Tim is the best I have ever seen a guy using the harness. You want to ask how to fish the harness this is the guy you want to pick his brain. I have fished with Tim and he's a master of this type of fishing. I like the rail. I am 5'3 and the rail is my friend. It's always a great treat fishing with Tim. See you at the docks Tim. I am on the 2nd Lupe trip in December on the Excel.
    I agree Tim is an absolute beast in the harness.

    Tim's gear is fine tuned to his style of fishing and many people dont realize that your harness has to be fine tuned to your height and rod length.

    Give Tim a Penn 50T and a Calstar 4'XXXH rod and behold.

    Very cool to watch.
     
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    Tim Turis

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    I agree Tim is an absolute beast in the harness.

    Tim's gear is fine tuned to his style of fishing and many people dont realize that your harness has to be fine tuned to your height and rod length.

    Give Tim a Penn 50T and a Calstar 4'XXXH rod and behold.

    Very cool to watch.
    Yeah Professor 👍
     
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    Russ Scholl
    Russ Scholl
    For the railrod fishers-what is the prefered knee down for right handlers?
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