Fishing Skill: How To Fight Big Fish | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
Chris LeMessurier sits on his fishing kayak holding a largemouth bass. Photo: Ben Duchesney

Don't let the fish win; learn to reel in big fish from a kayak.

Reeling in a big fish from a fishing kayak is as simple as keeping your rod tip up and reeling right? Wrong. Do that and you're likely to lose the fish. Fighting a big fish is a complicated dance of rod angle, line tension, drag and patience. Use these tips to keep that trophy on the line so that you can brag about it later, and not have to bury your head in shame for losing such a big'un.

The Right Rod Angle

Yes, you should raise your rod tip when setting the hook (unless you're going for that cool guy, sideways hook set), but after the hookset, pay attention to where the fish is and where it's headed. You want to continually counter the fish, jab for jab, and tire it out faster, without overtiring it at the same time. 

If the fish is making a run left, lean your rod to the right. If it starts booking it to the right, lean your rod over to the left. Feel it about it jump? Flip your rod upside down to prevent if from jumping (that one's tricky). If it's diving down deep, then you can raise that rod tip up again. For every action the fish makes, you need to make an equal, opposite action to win the battle.

Keep The Line Tight

It seems like a no brainer, but keeping your line tight is what keeps the tension on the hook and prevents it from coming loose. This is the most crucial part of fighting big fish. No matter where you're looking, at the fish jumping, your buddy's camera for the hero shot, you should also be looking at your line, at least every few seconds.

Make sure that you're not going to wrap your line around your rod tip if it jumps, or get your rod tip stuck in a tree and lose tension (don't laugh, I've done it). Keeping the correct rod angle will do most of the work in keeping the line tight, but you also need to assist your rod by reeling in at the right time. If a fish is running, stop reeling. If the fish makes a beeline for the boat, you better start reeling as fast as you can to keep the line tight. 

Setting Your Drag

When it comes to preparing for a fight with a big fish, the first step is to have your drag ready BEFORE the fight starts. Messing with your drag during the fight means you're going to lose it, because you'll either tighten it too much and break off, or make it too loose, lose tension and it'll come off.

Set your drag before you even leave the house using a scale with a hook on the end. Never set your drag above 20% of the line's breaking strength. That way, if the fish makes a break for it, your line will peel off the reel easily, instead of snapping like dental floss. You should never have to think of your drag on the water, because you should know it's already all set. Unless your buddies are jerks and known for loosening your drag when you're not looking; then check it every once in a while.

Greatness Takes Patience 

The second you hook up is the second you need to calm down. Don't let your hype psyche you out and cause you to make a mistake. I know it's tough, but try and wait for the fist bumps and high fives after you've landed the fish. I've seen many fish get lost, and lost a few myself, after hooting and hollering about the catch before it's in hand. 

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