Tactics for Battling Billfish

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Getting a marlin on the line is only half the battle - getting it to the boat is another story.

You want to do battle with the ultimate gamefish? In that case, few would argue with the decision to target billfish in general and marlin in specific. Get one on the line, and you have a shot at getting it up to the boat – but there are no guarentees. Tilt the odds in your favor by applying these tips and tricks.

marlin underwater

Getting a marlin on the line is only half the battle – getting it to the boat is another story.

  1. Communication is key. The angler and/or mate need to be in constant communication with the captain, letting him or her know when the fish rushes towards the bow or crosses behind the boat.
  2. Don’t rest in a tug-of-war situation. If the fish sounds or goes off to one side and holds position you need to force it to move. Apply maximum pressure at every moment. If you find yourself in a deadlock you my need the captin’s help; shifting an engine into and out of gear or moving closer to it can cause the marlin to change it’s mind and start moving again.
  3. When the fish jumps or comes to the surface and shakes its head, do not pump the rod – this is the time to crank for all you’re worth, even if you hear drag. Spin that handle just as fast as the laws of physics allow.
  4. As the fish comes close to the boat, expect sudden changes in direction and be prepared to move. You should slide into the corner of the cockpit closest to the marlin, and be ready to change directions at any second. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to move or for the line to get close to the transom or gunwale; remain fluid and react to the fish as it shifts position.
  5. Don’t relax whent he mate grabs the leader. There’s a fair chance he or she will have to release it once, twice, or even more times before the fish is truely beat.

And don’t forget to have the camera ready before taking the hook out of that fish!

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