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The wrong-headedness of light-tackle records

sunflowersunflower Posts: 617 Officer
edited March 16 in Fly Fishing #1

It is often said that there are 3 stages of a fisherman's life: trying to catch a fish,
trying to catch lots of fish,
trying to catch great fish.
(I would add ... trying to help others catch fish)
Fly fisherman in general probably tend to be in the latter group. In this ancient day and age, with increased pressure on even exotic fish in exotic locations, and with better rods and reels, it is almost-impossible for an angler to target an all-tackle record. You just can't really hope to be the lucky guy who finds and catches the biggest fish of all time.

Seeking new challenges, and that certainly isn't a dishonorable thing, great fisherman often turn to light-tackle records. Catching the biggest fish with the lightest leader. The problem is, this inevitably leads to long exhausting fights that probably kills the fish, multiple fish lost with broken tackle in their mouths, and usually gaffing and killing the fish to weigh and certify the record when you land it.

Proponents of these records will claim that catching these fish on light tackle shows great technical ability, and leads to innovations in knots, fighting-techniques, and flies that can improve fly-fishing in general.

I don't think so.

If that were true, once an angler developed the skill and techniques to catch one giant fish one light tackle, he or she could then do it again and again with consistency. It would be more-likely than not. In fact, landing these record fish is a miracle-event, and even these "great" anglers can only hope to repeat it rarely going forward. Mostly they will just lose, break-off, and harm fish in the future.

The records don't reflect skill. They reflect an extreme example of luck, usually for a fisherman who has the opportunity to catch and lose dozens (if not hundreds) of fish. A good fisherman with lots and lots of chances.

No one tries to go out and set an "light-rifle" record hunting ... I think.
No one tries to kill an elephant or elk with a .22, and then claim they are a really-good hunter. All that would result in is a lot of wounded and injured animals, and a lot of needless bleeding, death and suffering.

I get it.
Fish don't smile. They aren't warm and fuzzy. They don't cry out in pain, or really bleed that much. they don't wag their tails.

PS: I realize that ALL fishing causes harm. Maybe you could use these same arguments to condemn ALL sport-fishing.

IGFA should eliminate the light-tackle records.
It is an invitation to seek ego and glory.
It is an invitation that encourages the unnecessary harm, suffering, and death of animals.

These are all opinions. Feel free to disagree.

Mark

grace finds goodness in everything ...



Replies

  • troutbomtroutbom Posts: 326 Deckhand
  • CWFliesCWFlies StuartPosts: 119 Deckhand
    Agreed. I haven't been been a fan of line class or tippet records. I can't imagine fighting a 100+lbs tarpon on 4lb for 10+ hours is good for the many fish an angler tries it on before landing one. I would think many of those tarpon that do get away end up dying from sharks or exhaustion. Personally i think the IGFA should just have the all tackle record and if they want a fly record have a max tippet size say 15-20lb and use that as the all tipped fly record. 

    I know the IGFA has all of these line class, tippet, and length records to try and attract more people into chasing records but it usually results in only a few anglers actually chasing them. I don't mind the length records because the angler can use proper size tackle and the fish can be released alive. 

    Sunflower I like your comparison to hunting. I'll be using that in the future.
  • Ol'DirtyCasterOl'DirtyCaster Posts: 2,416 Captain
      
       For every single fish killed for a line class record, there are hundreds killed for instagram posts. I haven't had a request at the shop for igfa compliant rigging in over a decade.
  • sunflowersunflower Posts: 617 Officer

    Good to hear that, ODC.
    I guess it's like Clinton said about abortion: it should be legal, safe, and rare.
    I guess the difference is Instagram isn't supported by IGFA, and doesn't award prizes, keep record books, and give out certificates.
    I don't think.
    Beyond the death, my point is that I think a light-line record reflect opportunity and luck more than great fishing skill.
    Mark

    grace finds goodness in everything ...



  • tarpon41tarpon41 Posts: 271 Deckhand
    i might distinguish those fish  that I would eat but I think it's a waste of my precious fishing time and money to so engage and the skill level would be enhanced with a dead boat no engine no poling and no double lines...no leaders longer than feet 6 feet for conventional gear
  • Vinny lVinny l Posts: 378 Deckhand
    Started fishing on my own in 1976, 16 years old and I've always fished with the maximum amount of drag I could put on any given rod/reel/line combo. I've never ever played a fish to exhaustion. In fact I've gotten smacked and bitten more times then I can count but I can heal, an exhausted fish can't. Hookem and landem while they're still green and the chance of survival for the fish is greater.
    Never understood the EGO thing when it comes to wild life, now if we were hunting or catching humans that might change my method up a bit ;)
    Hope you all had a great St. Patrick day and a have a Happy Easter

  • sunflowersunflower Posts: 617 Officer

    I think you make a great point, Vinnie.
    I guess the question is where you think the art and sport of (fly)fishing lays.
    I think it is about casting the fly: a miracle of beauty and skill; and getting a fish to mistake a clump of feathers and fur for something to eat ... and into biting it.
    Everything I enjoy about fly-fishing is in the cast and the take.
    For me, reeling the fish to the boat is basically a non-event. Much fun, but a machine could do it.
    I don't think landing a fish really requires great talent, and I think most "fights" are really just luck whether the fish comes loose or not.
    I have caught dozens and dozens of tarpon and bonefish, and never "bowed", or did anything really impressive to land them. I just reeled them in. I don't honestly think "bowing" really serves any purpose, especially if the fish is more than a few yards from the boat.
    I honestly laugh when I see anglers on TV shows (you know who you are) lunging forward into a huge "bow" every time the tarpon jumps.
    In the Seychelles, they just point the rod straight at GT an tuna and crank them in. No bowing, no bending.
    Andy Mills references some historical fly great (Tom Evans?) who never fought a tarpon longer than 20 minutes ... he just bulled them in. Made me feel ashamed of my hour-long fights.

    There is a population of guides and anglers (in Key West) who think you are "cheating" if you don't use light IGFA-approved tippets. I just don't see it. I recognize the historical purpose of a tippet (so you don't leave broken tackle trailing yards behind a lost fish).

    A light tackle record doesn't show skill.
    It just means you barely pulled on the fish, and left the hook and line dangling from the fish's mouth until the poor desperate thing wore itself nearly down to death in fear, exhaustion, panic, and pain.

    Slow clap.
    Send me a record!
    PUT ME IN THE BOOK!!


    Mark

    grace finds goodness in everything ...



  • finbullyfinbully Posts: 823 Officer
    sunflower said:

    Good to hear that, ODC.
    I guess it's like Clinton said about abortion: it should be legal, safe, and rare.
    I guess the difference is Instagram isn't supported by IGFA, and doesn't award prizes, keep record books, and give out certificates.
    I don't think.
    Beyond the death, my point is that I think a light-line record reflect opportunity and luck more than great fishing skill.
    ....and not without the aid of a skilled helmsman to navigate the boat.

    I've always thought it ridiculous backing down on marlin, chasing tarpon with the boat to "land" a fish. Not any sport in that IMO.
  • sunflowersunflower Posts: 617 Officer

    Definitely don't agree with that, finbully.
    If a tarpon takes 200 yards of line, I am definitely going to follow him in the boat. I would never sit dead-boat and try to drag him hundreds of yards back. This is even more true in the Keys, where they often catch tarpon in the passes during periods of heavy current.
    I'm going to drive the boat straight to the tarpon, and get as close to him as possible, and keep as close to him as possible. In my experience, 90% of the "fight" takes place within  50 - 100 feet of the boat.
    I can't possible get down and dirty, pull against his direction, flip over, or put the heat on a tarpon 100 yards away.
    Mark

    grace finds goodness in everything ...



  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 8,847 Admiral
    I’m not a fly fisherman so maybe I shouldn’t butt in here but I will anyway. I fish to harvest. I don’t sport fish. And I don’t commercial fish either. I don’t believe in torturing any animal just for my fun. When I fish I go with the maximum gear it takes to harvest that fish as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And I will take my legal maximum when I can. In my house nothing goes to waste fish under 2 pounds are always consumed whole and larger fish we eat the heads, collars and sometimes the meat off the back bones.

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • tarpon41tarpon41 Posts: 271 Deckhand
    I do both
    I’m not a fly fisherman so maybe I shouldn’t butt in here but I will anyway. I fish to harvest. I don’t sport fish. And I don’t commercial fish either. I don’t believe in torturing any animal just for my fun. When I fish I go with the maximum gear it takes to harvest that fish as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And I will take my legal maximum when I can. In my house nothing goes to waste fish under 2 pounds are always consumed whole and larger fish we eat the heads, collars and sometimes the meat off the back bones.
    Sport fish with a fly rod for the three and fish to eat with conventional...on waist...  once upon a time my late friend and professional colleague at his house on Fresh Creek Andros ...fishing for eat at the Autec Buoys...came in with three nice red snappers, a wahoo, a dorado..stopped for gas at the now closed Lighthouse Club Marina...old friend Timer on the dock gave him a snapper and Mike climbed out going to use their boards to clean/filet our fish...Timer said don't filet here go to your dock ...there were other eyes looking ...he said filleting is waist...bake the whole snapper and just leave the bones...from then on all snappers and groupers were baked whole Bahamian style...onions tomatoes garlic...some Jamaican jerk
  • SUPER DSUPER D Posts: 728 Officer
    Torture fish, I don't think so. I caught a King one time that broke us off three time, the fourth time we caught it. All four hooks lined up in the left corner of mouth, I caught a Flounder that had a 7" Blue crab hole in it's gullet, very sharp and pointy. Snook, and Tarpon will eat sea Cats that one prick can make any one of us cry in pain. With that said, I try to minimize any damage I cause by only using single hooks. While Tarpon fishing with fly I use 16# tippet, more so if I hook a monster I can break off easy. I fight a Tarpon for up to half hour,then break them off. I have caught quite a few Hundred pound Tarpon in less than Half hour. I only follow one when it has me in backing, all other times it's from a dead boat. If it takes any longer to get boat side, your doing it wrong!!! At our worst we are much less cruel than Mother nature. Look at a Shark, Killer whale, Barracuda, an Alligator that rips a Deer's leg off. If you stuck a hook in my mouth, you could drag me all around with the lightest of lines. I've had fish break 50# test like nothing, 
  • finbullyfinbully Posts: 823 Officer
    edited March 22 #14
    sunflower said:

    Definitely don't agree with that, finbully.
    If a tarpon takes 200 yards of line, I am definitely going to follow him in the boat. I would never sit dead-boat and try to drag him hundreds of yards back. This is even more true in the Keys, where they often catch tarpon in the passes during periods of heavy current.
    I'm going to drive the boat straight to the tarpon, and get as close to him as possible, and keep as close to him as possible. In my experience, 90% of the "fight" takes place within  50 - 100 feet of the boat.
    I can't possible get down and dirty, pull against his direction, flip over, or put the heat on a tarpon 100 yards away.
    I'm sure I'm in the minority opinion here. I agree with chasing the fish down to limit stress on the animal. I just do not think that is much sport to claim you "caught" the fish. That is just silly IMO. Some of the big buck sportfishers go as fast and steer as good in reverse as going forward. No sport there.
  • AlwaysLearningMoreAlwaysLearningMore Posts: 174 Deckhand
    Some of the incredibly high weights for billfish caught on very light tackle are achieved by jumping the boat in reverse on top of a fresh-hooked fish for a quick gaff shot before the fight really begins.  Takes amazing boat handling and gaffing skills.  Not so much angling skill.
  • BooBooBooBoo Vero BeachPosts: 115 Deckhand
    OP.....Great topic. 
  • gogittumgogittum SW New MexicoPosts: 1,569 Captain
    Never been there on a big sportfisher backing down on a Marlin and likely never will, but from watching movies and videos of the process it really looks hectic.

    I understand the idea behind "get the fish in and released" as quick as possible, but to be the guys on the boat with engines roaring, spray flying, sun shining, the fish running, the angler braced back in the chair with rod heavily bent.....migawd, but that has to be exciting.  Sensory overload, for sure.
  • JWTJWT Posts: 765 Officer
    i used to fish light fly for big tarpon. trying to get a record. caught a bunch of big girls but there were several i couldn't revive. i eventually decided it wasn't worth it.  i now rarely use more than a 40# shock for any size ****. most of the fun is in the first 10 minutes anyway, after that it can get to be work! 
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