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Battle technique, putting' on the brakes...and wild fights


By Joe Brotz (Roccus)

Jumping striper

This is the last day of your "Striper Vacation" you've fished all the best tides, night and day, you've landed some nice fish but are still looking for that trophy, grey dawn streaks the sky, you get a solid whack on a sub surface swimming plug, line melts off the spool, you cant remember if you "reset" your drag after the last fish, so in a desperate move you tighten the drag..... the line goes slack, the line parted or the plug pulled loose.... sound familiar?
Fighting large fish takes practice and top notch equiptment...

The following are some of the reasons why large fish are lost...
#1) too little line on the spool, this is probably the main reason that large fish are lost, all spools should be filled to 1/8 of an inch from the lip of the spool, having less than that affects the drag in several ways, (A) by having too little line, the starting drag is increased from what the factory designed it to be, a violent strike often ends in a broken line because the drag can not slip as designed unless too lose, (B) the running drag is affected because the drag coefficient INCREASES as the spool diameter DECREASES, often exposing any weakness in the system, usually in the form of a erratic, jerky drag or broken line... #2) improper drag settings, how many people really know how much drag tension they have versus the breaking strength of the line?
I set all my drags with a spring scale, 1/4 the breaking strength of the line is the recommended setting by most line and reel manufactures, this leaves a solid safety margin, some anglers go as high as 1/3, personally I prefer to "thumb" the spool on a "runaway" fish, if I feel that I need a little more pressure on the fish....
To do this, your index finger can be LIGHTLY applied to the edge of the spool to add additional drag, thus sparing "monkeying" with your original drag setting, same applies to using your thumb on a conventional, but you must make sure you don't allow your thumb to get pulled into the cross hurts!
#3) Rod position, some anglers fail to use the rod as a tool for fighting a fish, if a fish makes a long run, keeping the rod at about 1:00 position will maintain maximum pressure and also give a "spring like" cushion to the line, once the fish is close to the boat(or surf) the rod should be lowered to the 2:00 position to relive some of the pressure,if the fish should make a surge, drop the rod tip(maintaining slight pressure,this is called bowing to a fish, a tactic also used for "jumpers") pointing the rod at the fish, as the fish gets further away bring the rod tip up to maintain control...
#4) pumping in the fish, OK your fish is whipped, she's lying out there, now what????? Slowly, methodically "pump" the rod applying pressure between the 1:00 and 3:00 positions, NEVER, reel if the drag is paying out line, this will lead to twisted line, tangles and lost fish, lift the rod from 3:00 to the 1:00 position, reel down, keeping slight pressure on the fish, if the weight of the fish makes the drag slip while you are "pumping" the fish, slight finger pressure to the spool with an 'educated" finger will provide the needed resistance to get the fish close...if the fish makes a sudden surge, point the rod right at it, this will give you the best chance of keeping the fish from breaking the line.. Types of fights:
Not all bass fight the same, they have personalities...that what makes then great... Screamers, the name speaks for itself,you set the hook and they SCREAM! often taking 50-75 yards at a run, fish in the 38-45lb class seem most prone to this, they make several long powerful runs and tire themselves out.. Kamikazes : these fish are nuts,probably the hardest fish to land, these fish tend to be in the 20-35lb range, they are wild and crazy, they'll scream off,turn and run at you,requiring both a good drag and a fast retrieve to take up the slack,they often times will do several about faces requiring quick reflexes,steady nerves and a perfectly functioning drag. The bull dogs: these are usually the "Big uns" 45lbs and up, most have been hooked before, they don't burn themselves on long sizzling runs, they head out to sea slow and steady, turn, slow deliberate circles, roll on the line, shake their heads violently, rub bottom and look for structure to foul the line in, then use their big broom like tails to dig deep or slash the surface, all the while rolling, smashing and shaking their heads, steady rod pressure is a must, bowing (pushing the rod tip to wards the fish) is critical when one of these brutes rolls on a line close up, these fish often win their freedom with these tactics, angler awareness, prepared equipment and a good deal of luck are needed to put the brakes on a trophy fish....

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