Light-Tackle Techniques to Take Big Fish

Tips for catching large fish on light-tackle.

Catching fish that weigh up to 10 times the strength of the line requires knowledge, skill and stamina. Try these three strategies for light-tackle success.

Two-Speed Reels
Stalemates with tuna, makos and swords can change in a heartbeat when the angler "drops a gear" for added leverage. This added pressure can turn the fish's head, and a steady pump-and-reel rhythm will bring it closer to the boat. Look for models like Penn's new X-series Internationals that offer increased drag levels while still providing total free-spool.

Wind-On Leaders
The last 30 feet can be the hardest part of the light-tackle fight, where the game fish is doing circles just out of reach. Having a heavier 25- to 50-foot wind-on leader tied onto the main line increases the likelihood for success and allows muscling the fish to boat-side. Be advised that the International Game Fish Association has leader length regulations that apply for record catches.

Moving the Boat
Keep the fight within 50 yards of the boat. Having too much line out increases the reel's drag due to a decrease in spool diameter, so back off the lever on long runs. Move the boat to recover line and stay in front of the fish whenever possible. Surfing a large fish down-sea is easier than dragging it against the sea. For the end game, turn the boat into the sea and plane the fish to the surface.