Big Game Fishing 101: The Right Tools

In 1898, California fisherman, writer, naturalist, and conservationist C.F. Holder took out his trusty, little fishing boat off the coast of Santa Catalina Island. In a few hours of what must have surely been the fight of a century, he caught a whopping 83kg bluefin tuna using only his wits and a wooden fishing rod.

His little adventure is often credited as being the originator of big fish gaming. The advent of the motorboat has solidified it from a niche activity into a multimillion dollar industry spanning more than a century and finding a home with fishing enthusiasts all over the world.

But you don’t even need your own motorboat. In the Gold Coast and all over Western Australia, fishing charters help ferry anglers of all skill levels to and from the pier all the way to fertile game grounds where they can have themselves a C.F. Holder experience. Only this time with modern technology by their side!

Big game fishing has become an essential travel wishlist item for many an adventurous traveler (the cool types that are more about the experience of traveling in a different country and simply content with cheap thrills, like renting out Disneyland for the day or some other nonsense). But before you bust out your copy of “The Old Man and the Sea,” here are some basic fishing tips for anglers looking to tackle the great blue waters.

Basic Equipment

As with regular fishing, big game fishing requires a rod, a reel, a line, and a terminal tackle, albeit ones that are designed for open waters. More often than not, this equipment is all you really need if you rent a fishing charter. But if you’re braving the waters on your own, you’ll most likely need a chum bucket and a scoop. You should also look into a stand-up belt, so you have a place to notch your pole when you’re battling a particularly tough marlin.

Reel Talk

big game fishing 101

When it comes to reels, you’ll get what you pay for. Cheap, dollar-store reels will often forgo sturdier bearings and use inexpensive brass or plastic shims. Yes, it’s much, much cheaper. But it will wear out and become sloppy in just a few short fishing trips. More expensive reels, on the other hand, will often use up to five sets of ball bearings in its casing, ensuring that you get to use it for years on end.

When choosing a quality reel, it’s best to look for three things. A sizable spool that can hold about 3,000 feet of line, a set lever drag, and a powerful gearing system that helps you pull the slack if a fish tries to dive into the depths.

Don’t Spare the Rod

In general, modern fishing rods are created using graphite, fiberglass, or a composite of the two, with each one providing a specific benefit for the user.

Graphite rods are the lightest and most sensitive of the three. But it’s also the most fragile. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is much sturdier, solid, and tough. But it’s not the most sensitive. And a composite straddles the line between the two and offers the best of both worlds.

Usually, big game rods are equipped with stainless steel roller guides to help you troll and to support you during stand-up fishing. These rods often employ elongated foam grips that help you hold on for dear life when fighting champs in the deep blue sea.


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