TAKE THE THRONE
Large tackle and fighting chairs go hand in hand with landing big game fish. It’s not for the faint- hearted and requires experience, skill and a whole lot of muscle. But, there are tactics which when employed, can minimise the length of time it takes to get the fish to the boat. Success in the fighting chair starts long before you actually place your behind on it.
TALK TO THE CAPTAIN
Before you dive headlong into getting your tackle ready and all the other preparatory bits that go with chair fighting, take time to chat to the captain and discuss strategy. A good captain will advise you on the various aspects and quirks of his particular boat relating to the fighting chair and tackle, putting you at ease so that you can focus on what you do best – fishing. If you make the necessary adjustments to the chair for the particular line class you’ll be using, it often pays off with many more catches being landed.
BEFORE LINES HIT THE WATER
The footrest of the fighting chair needs to be adjusted to suit the person using it. Legs should be firmly planted straight ahead, with the forward edge of the chair lined up with the bend in the knees. This offers an optimal pumping position to generate the most amount of force from the chair. Harness straps clipped onto the reel should line up with the knees, with each individual strap being adjusted to share the load equally. When one of these straps is adjusted out of sync with the other, the fisherman’s body position will be compromised as he tries to compensate for the uneven load. The fight to get the fish to the boat will be a lot more difficult in this instance.
Handling heavy tackle and fighting game fish from a chair is no easy business. For this reason, it is important to have a spotter. The spotter’s function is to keep a general eye on proceedings and turn the chair to point the fisherman towards the fish. The spotter will also be responsible for removing the backrest of the chair, should the fisherman require extra space to extend the pumps on the rod. Basically, the spotter is there to ensure that the person in the fighting chair has the easiest possible time when fighting a fish and bringing it to the boat.
The slide mode of the fighting chair offers the angler the opportunity to slide back and forth when fighting the fish, gaining extra leverage to bring the fish to the boat. Using the sliding option of the fighting chair will allow the legs of the fisherman to do a lot of the work and take a load off the angler’s arms. Once the forward motion is completed and the line has been reeled in, compensation for the forward sliding motion, revert to the original back position by pushing backwards and then bring the rod back to its most effective 30-degree angle.
Short pumps of the rod take more of a toll on game fish than longer pumps. Short pumps tend to impair the fish’s ability to breathe and the reduced oxygen intake equates to an easier fight for the fisherman.
One of the most difficult fighting scenarios is when a large fish heads for the depths. Getting it out of the depths is best achieved by pivoting yourself over the rod by rising about 30 degrees out of the chair and reeling in while you bend over the rod. Once you’ve taken up the line derived from your pivot out of the chair, fall back into the chair using your entire body weight to lift the fish towards the boat.
TAKE A REST
Always use every opportunity to gain some line if it presents itself. Also take breaks when the opportunity presents itself, such as when the fish goes straight down and you have little effect on its path. Pace yourself during the fight, include the correct positional adjustments, think tactically and welcome any breaks you can get.
GUNWALE ROD TRANSFER
If you get a hookup when the rod is in the gunwale rod
holder with full drag applied, the following can be done:
1. Wait until the fish is properly hooked.
2. Reduce drag slightly and then remove the rig from the gunwale.
3. Keep the tip of the rod aimed at the fish during the transfer to the chair.
4. Place the rod in the chair gimbal.
5. Connect the harness to reel lugs, and advance the drag to full fighting position.
6. Slide backwards, lock in your legs, and put pressure on the fish.
7. Land the fish!
Action images supplied by Royal big game fishing: