Red Alert

Want to run your boat out into the deep blue and hunt a grander? Maybe thousand-pound giant bluefin tuna are more your style. Either way, if you plan to chase down gamefish that are too big to tackle on standup gear, you need to invest in either a fighting chair or a battle station.

TRADITIONAL anglers opt for the chair. A fighting chair and bucket harness allow an angler to bring the strength of his or her entire body into the battle. A chair also helps the mate direct the fight, since he can swivel the chair to whichever direction is appropriate at the moment. And don't overlook the stowage advantages of a chair. You can keep at least four rods close at hand, and many captains add a line or two to the spread by running them directly from the chair. On the downside, a chair eats up cockpit space, costs thousands of dollars, and requires a backing plate, which-since it's usually laminated to the deck-is prepositioned and pretapped at the factory, so you can't choose your own optimal spot.

PROGRESSIVE anglers may want to check out a battle station, which also allows anglers to harness the strength of their upper bodies as well as provides additional rod stowage. A station takes up far less space than a chair, costs less than half as much as chairs of comparable quality, and can be mounted on the foredeck of most ocean-capable center consoles. The downside? Most don't swivel, so the captain must work harder to keep the boat in the proper position, and they don't help anglers harness the power of their legs.

Which option is right for you? If you plan to go for nothing but the giants with 80- or 120-pound class gear, you need a chair. But if you also like to bottomfish or troll for smaller game like dolphin and kings, get the battle station and enjoy your extra cockpit space. If you own a center console, consider mounting a battle station on the foredeck. This allows the captain to chase fish more effectively.