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Some anglers who drop baits deep in the Gulf for species like grouper and snapper prefer to hand-crank their fish, while others lay out the extra cash for electric reels that wind up the catch with the press of a button. And, of course, many of the hand-crankers claim the electric reelers aren’t sporting… while many of the electric reel lovers scoff at the notion of all that winding.
Should you hand-crank deepwater fish, or are electric reels okay?
While everyone can probably agree that electric reels are in a way sort of “cheating” as compared to hand cranking (and we note that any fish caught on an electric is ineligible for setting records), there’s also no doubt that for many people this isn’t exactly an either-or proposition. Consider:
- Electric reels allow people who might not otherwise be able to partake in this sort of fishery to join in the fun. Kids, people with handicaps, and elderly anglers often don’t have the stamina to hand-crank (especially considering the large amount of weight often necessary to reach bottom) from the depths. But with an electric reel they can get the job done.
- In some cases the time-commitment of deep drops can be problematic. If you’ve run far offshore to fish the rigs, for example, and want to stop for an hour or two to catch some bottom fish on the way home, the time involved with fighting up a large fish from the depths by hand-cranking may only allow for a couple of drops. But if you have electrics, you may be able to get in twice as many drops in the same amount of time.
- In certain cases electric reels may actually be beneficial to the fish that need to be released. The shorter fight involved means the fish won’t necessarily tire itself to death during a long, drawn-out fight. (Note: blown air bladders due to pressure changes can obviously also become a big problem in this scenario. If you don’t have a good method of re-pressurizing or venting the fish, this becomes moot).
- Electric reels don’t equate to an automatic catch. You still have to have a properly set drag, play the fish up, and fight it all along the way.
Does all of this sound like an argument in favor of electric reels? Perhaps so. The fact of the matter is that as long as an angler is abiding by the law, what gives anyone else the “right” to tell them how they should or should not catch fish? (Answer: nothing does). And there will be cases in which using an electric reel makes sense. So before you bash on anyone for press-button fishing, think twice – and then start cranking.