FISHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Stand or Sit?
Photo: A fighting chair lets you apply more pressure to a big fish but many people prefer fishing stand-up gear.
When targeting large pelagic fish like marlin, swordfish or giant tunas, you have two basic options from which to choose your method of doing battle: fishing from a fighting chair or using stand-up gear. Both have their proponents so let’s look at some underlying philosophy about why one might work better for you than the other.
Stand-up gear has evolved into a highly effective system with sophisticated belts and harnesses available from companies like Aftco, Braid and many others. This gear enables you to transfer the pressure of fighting a big fish off of your back and arms and spread the load into your legs and hips, warding off fatigue and letting you put a great deal of pressure on the fish with the obvious goal of keeping the fight as short as possible, thereby lessening the chance of escape.
Many people like stand-up gear because it gives you extra mobility and keeps the angler in the heart of the fight, able to move in reaction to the fish’s every turn. It’s a highly athletic methodology that may heighten the feeling of accomplishment for some people, as they feel a more direct connection to the fish, going “mano a mano” as the saying goes.
But if you’re looking to catch a truly huge fish, one possibly approaching the 1,000-pound mark for instance, there’s little doubt but that a fighting chair enables you to apply more pressure on the fish. The leverage point created by the chair’s gimbal and the power you can apply with your legs on the footrest and with a bucket harness simply can’t be consistently matched with stand-up tackle.
You can catch granders on stand-up gear of course, but research has proved that a chair lets you apply more pressure throughout the fight, and in the end, that could make the difference between success and failure. As with many things in the world of fishing, it comes down to personal choice. And if you have a smaller boat, a chair may simply not be an option. A full-sized fighting chair just doesn’t fit in the cockpit of a 30-footer as easily as it does in a boat twice that size.
Experiment with both methods and find the solution that’s right for you. Of course, if you never target big fish you may not ever need to do this kind of research. But if you’ve always wanted to do battle at least once with a true beast from the deep, you’d be well served to have a well thought-out game plan in advance, and to know for certain how to use the gear in your own cockpit for maximum effectiveness.
John Brownlee is the host of Anglers Journal Television, and the former editor-in-chief of Marlin and Salt Water Sportsman magazines.