Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Southern Bluefin Tuna, Kingies, Marlin and other game fish.
ncr1
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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by ncr1 » Wed May 17, 2017 4:25 pm

Applying the Pressure

In my last post I emphasized the need to maximize the amount of drag that your outfit can handle. But what about you? Are you, the angler, capable of consistently maintaining maximum drag pressure (e.g. 20kg+ drag on 37kg line class) over an hour or three of fighting a big fish? And can you do this comfortably without breaking your back or giving yourself a hernia?

These questions go well beyond how physically strong you might be - it would be nice to be built like Schwarzenegger when fishing with 37kg gear, but I certainly don’t believe it to be an overriding requirement. Hopefully this post can provide some convincing evidence to back up this claim. I believe that with the right combination of a well-designed rod and harness system, along with an excellent fighting technique, can more than compensate for a lack of sheer brute strength. So what does a comfortable fight with 37kg tackle look like?

Before I begin, I need to specify that this discussion will be based entirely on standup gamefishing. The use of game chair is a different kettle of fish (excuse the pun) and I have virtually no experience in this regard.

Firstly, imagine an old-fashioned game of tug-of-war between two teams of people. The team who initially gain the advantage will generally be those who are able to stand up with a straight back. Preferably, they will even be able to lean back against the pull of the rope once they gain extra leverage on their opponents. In contrast, the team on the other side will generally be struggling to stand up straight and will begin to be bent over forward, making it very difficult for them to recover from that point on. A similar thing happens when fighting a big fish on heavy standup gear, the anglers who find themselves bent forward and are leaning on the gunnels are going to have a far more difficult, painful and prolonged experience than those anglers who are able to lean back consistently on the fish, or at least maintain a straight-backed stance throughout the fight. To demonstrate these differences, I have tracked down a pair of YouTube videos of separate barrel fights that I think make a nice comparison of what ‘to do’ and what ‘not to do’. Spoiler alert – both videos end up with the fish being landed, but the contrast in fish size and angler effort presents like chalk and cheese.

The first video shows YouFish TV’s Brendan Wing (Winga) fighting a SBT barrel out of Eaglehawk Neck in Tassie. It shows him hooked up on 37kg line class using a top-of-the-line, fully-rollered 37kg Shimano Tiagra standup game rod attached to a Tiagra 50W reel. Winga indicates early in the video that he is fighting with 12.5kg of drag, but I’m unsure whether he increases the drag later in the fight. Winga is an experienced gamefisherman and is also a very, very big guy. Yet, what you see throughout much of the video is Winga regularly bent over the gunnel and struggling to lean back on the fish. He manages to gain some leverage at points (see 8:30 and 16:10), but spends much of the fight with his back forward and his hands leaning on the gunnel (see 09:30 onwards). In the end, he lands a 98.6kg SBT after what appears to be at least an hour of fighting time. There’s no doubt that this is an impressive capture, but it still only equates to a ~2.7:1 ratio (fish weight: line class), basically equivalent to a 22kg fish on an 8kg line class.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pgJL3lbgkQ


Contrast Winga’s fight with that of the next video. This one depicts a relatively small guy called Kilsong connected to an estimated 900lb Atlantic Bluefin Tuna off Prince Edward Island in Canada. Like Winga, he is also using 37kg line, but has a much more flexible and longer rod (custom Black Hole) (cue some jokes about this sentence…..). What follows is probably the best demonstration of standup gamefishing technique that I have ever seen. Compared to Winga’s 12.5kg of drag, Kilsong begins the fight at 20kg of drag and then increases the drag even more throughout the fight – this is some SERIOUS drag. And when you look at the bend in the rod, particularly at 06:00-06:30 and 08:00-08:30, you can really see the hurt that he is able to put onto the fish. Since the overall outfit is well designed and setup correctly, Kilsong never appears to be flustered and is able to lean back, or at least maintain a straight back, throughout the majority of the fight. The guy even has time for a beer mid-fight! In the end the massive fish is brought boatside and is released after only 55 minutes of being hooked!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_hNE5mki9k&t=512s

So there you have a comparison between a big guy, fighting 12.5kg of drag, and taking more than an hour to land a 100kg tuna, versus a much smaller guy, fighting 20-25kg of drag, and taking less than an hour to land a ~400kg tuna. The difference in outcome is simply astounding! Kilsong’s giant on 37kg line equates to a 11:1 capture ratio – Winga would need to have caught his 100kg barrel on 8kg line class to supersede that! It’s amazing to see what can be achieved with maximum fighting drag and the right gear and technique.

Clearly the outfit and setup you use can have an enormous bearing on the overall outcome of a fight with a barrel. So when it comes time to choosing the gear for this purpose, many anglers may simply decide that they want use heavier gear, like the 24kg line class, or if they want a bit more ‘security’ they may opt instead for a 37kg outfit. For a tackle store attendant, it then becomes a pretty easy task of guiding the requesting angler to a rack of equipment containing the 24kg or 37kg ‘rated’ gear, offer some broad advice on what each of the specializations offer (e.g. roller guides vs fixed guides; straight or bent butt; etc.), perhaps let the angler hold the rod while he puts a working bend in it, and then finish the selection process by determining what brand/model fits within their budget. But it is in these situations that I believe that far too much trust and reliance is being placed on the line-class rating that is affixed to the rod. Instead of choosing a specified line class and then selecting rods that are rated within that category, your first decision should instead be based upon what will be the maximum amount of drag you wish to fish with (e.g. 15kg drag). The line class rating is then basically irrelevant, since you are now only hunting an outfit that can properly handle 15kg of drag, not only with reliability (i.e. that’s it is not going to snap), but also one that you are able to maintain a very comfortable stance when connected to this level of pulling power. Both 24kg and 37kg ‘rated’ rods should have the capacity to handle 15kgs of drag easily, but you will probably find that the more flexible 24kg rod will offer you a higher degree of comfort and give you more of an opportunity to have a straight-backed/lean-back stance. When fighting his barrel using 12.5kg of drag, Winga would have almost certainly have been much better off if he was connected to a 24kg-rated rod instead of a 37kg-rated equivalent, even if the reel was spooled with 37kg line. Afterall, it’s not the line class the rod responds to, it’s the drag load.

However, in some situations, you might find that within the rods that are available on the rack, none of them allow you to properly/comfortably lean back on 15kg of drag. In this scenario, you have a few options. First is to reconfigure the way you strap yourself into your harness system (e.g. have the gimbal sitting more towards the knees) to see if you can gain any increases in your leverage capacity. Second would be to simply lower your expectations and choose a lighter drag setting to fish with. And third would be to find an increasingly sophisticated rod design to fish with. For example, as Frozenpod pointed out in another thread, adding a bent butt to your rod could increase your leverage significantly and that may allow you to go from your personal limit of 12kg of drag, to now being able to comfortably handle 15kg of drag. However, the addition of a bent butt can make the rod more awkward and cumbersome to use when not fighting fish, and sometimes requires redesigns of the boat’s rod holders to be able to accommodate them. They also cost more, possibly leaving them outside your budget. Any aspects of rod design that increases the overall drag pulling capability, will often increase the overall cost of the rod, but will also likely be detrimental to other aspects of the rod’s normal, non-fighting duties. Unfortunately, everything to do with rod design/selection is a compromise. Therefore, in the next section I will discuss what I believe are the pros and cons of each aspect of rod design.



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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by rb85 » Wed May 17, 2017 6:33 pm

Great post again NCR.

Interesting postural problems when people fight fish isn't exclusive to game fishing though it probably just magnifies it.

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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by VooDoo » Wed May 17, 2017 6:43 pm

Wow !! What a great read !!!

Thanks for the insight and advice - taking my hats off to you for sharing with us all.

Best wishes to you for a speedy recovery :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by Lightningx » Wed May 17, 2017 9:42 pm

Top read once again! :thumbsup:

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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by ducky » Thu May 18, 2017 5:05 pm

Once ncr has finished with this in needs to be combined into 1 continuous story and stickied forever

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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by Wolly Bugger » Thu May 18, 2017 5:22 pm

ducky wrote:Once ncr has finished with this in needs to be combined into 1 continuous story and stickied forever
My thoughts exactly



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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by CarlG » Thu May 18, 2017 5:23 pm

Wolly Bugger wrote:
ducky wrote:Once ncr has finished with this in needs to be combined into 1 continuous story and stickied forever
My thoughts exactly
x3
Fist-vic, a real pain in the butt.

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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by 4liters » Thu May 18, 2017 6:10 pm

ducky wrote:Once ncr has finished with this in needs to be combined into 1 continuous story and stickied forever
It's certainly going to be a good draw card for the forum in coming years as tuna fishing becomes more mainstream and people look to start tooling up.
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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by ratbag » Thu May 18, 2017 7:39 pm

Great work by Dane & thanks WB for moving Dane's posts to a permanent thread! Better than any magazine article
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Re: Portland Tuna -What I've Learnt

Post by Wolly Bugger » Thu May 18, 2017 8:48 pm

I think I might suggest to Admin, that there is a special section for Articles.



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