Fish Fight Part 2: Fighting Strategies


There are 3 phases in fighting strategy from hooking to landing. With slow-pitch jigging, you pick up so much more bites than the conventional hi-speed jigging. But also you may lose the fish more unless you know what you are doing.

Characteristics of this jigging which affects the fighting strategies are:

  • You are fishing with a very light tackle. You can’t overpower the fish to lift up.
  • You pick up more bites near the bottom. The fish is likely to be the kind that runs down into the rocks
Phase 1: Near Bottom
Seafloor Control

up to 20m from the bottom
This is where you pick up the most bites. What you have to watch out for is to avoid rocks. The cods and groupers go straight back down to the bottom. Amberjacks also dive down and run between ridges. So do dogtooth tunas.
If your PE touches the rock, that will be the end. Any friction can easily break PE line, no matter how thick PE line you use. If the fish goes into the rocks and fortunately PE doesn’t touch the rocks, the fish will just stick there and nothing can move it.

Always count your pitches

So that you know how far you are from the bottom when you hit the fish. If you know how much margin you have, you can make decisions wisely how much pressure to put on the drag to stop the fish. You are playing between the risks of letting the fish run too far to touch the bottom and of going over the capacity of your line system.

Focus until you lift up out of this area

Phase 1 is the most risky area. The clutch time. If you parry the first run and second run, and lift up 20m from the bottom, you are pretty much out of it.

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What if you hook a big one near the bottom?
What if the fish sticks to the bottom?
Hook the fish as high from the bottom as possible

Phase 2: Mid-Water

Keep reeling steadily and calmly. There is no rocks to cut the line, no gravity to change tensions. No rush. If the fish runs, let out the line. Don’t pull hard. Don’t loosen.
There is a risk that when the fight gets too long, the hook and the knots can become shaky. And with our light tackle, it will take time to reel in a big fish.
Important thing is that you stay calm and steady in lifting, and mindful in controlling your drag, not too tight, not too loose. Visualize Tai-Chi.

Phase 3: Near Surface

This is the second risky area of losing fish.
The line is short. A little movement of the fish sends big impacts to your system. Hooks can go off. Knots can break. Any damaged part can break.
When the fish resists and the part of the body breaks out the surface, that sends tremendous impacts and changes of tensions.
You don’t want to lose the fish here right in front of your eyes. It’s too sad.
If the fish is still active at the surface, or if you think that the hooking isn’t good enough, that the fight has been too long, or that the line might be damaged, you should loosen your drag to the minimum. Changes of the tensions are what you watch out for at this stage.

You also want to be careful never to hold up your highly-resilient sensitive slow pitch rod. It can break easily this way.

I hope you find this article informative and helpful to you!

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  1. Emit Lao
    Emit Lao11-29-2016

    Hi, it is my first time using ocea 2000 which is star drag. Can we adjust the drag while the lever in on or while in the middle of the fight? Since in the lever drag system. We have to free spool before adjusting the drag.

    • Totos

      Hi Emit.
      Yes, you can adjust the star drag anytime, whether or not the crutch is on.

  2. Phil

    Hi this website is VERY usefull thanks for teaching us. The other day happened to me something strange
    I was with the reel in strike position something big caught the lure i had to put the reel in full and it was still getting line , the fish was going down directly under the boat( reel is a Talica 10 2 speed) till the knot of the hook broke.what should i have done in that situation?

    • Totos

      Hi Phil.
      Are you saying it didn’t feel like a fish and you wonder what it could be? Or are you sure it’s a fish?
      I don’t know how you tie your hooks. Was it tore? Was it cut? What do you think it broke before your knot to the ring?

      Phil, this is a very good practice. You should examine very closely what caused the break. You have to be a good detective to improve your line system and your application.
      Good luck.

  3. Edward

    Hi toto
    Whats the best method to lifta fish that is too big to fit into a net onto the boat?
    Would you use a gaff or lip gripper?
    I recently lost 2 slow jigs by trying to lift fish by 30lb leader, fish shook its head and cut the line, it swam off with the slow jigs very expensive day.

    • Totos

      Hi Edward.
      Ouch… It’s very painful to lose your fish at the boarding. Especially with your jigs… I feel for you.
      I would use a gaff.

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