Tackle and Techniques
Many thanks to Duncan Warner, skipper of Ride On, who despite the distance, is still contributing to The Fisherman.
A Brief History
Anglers standing shoulder to shoulder, hooked up to large tuna had to be mobile, comfortable and able to maintain maximum pressure on a fish for long periods of time. It was these factors that necessitated the evolution of the short stand up rods. As the length of the rod became shorter, so too did the butt.
At the same time, the leather and canvas bucket or gimbaled belt was discarded and more comfortable systems were developed in line with the shorter rod and butt. Initially, designs were borrowed from conventional chair harnesses, but more recently specifically designed apparatus for stand up fishermen has become widely available.
One on One
Techniques have been developed specifically for fighting stand up. The "pelvic thrust" made famous by Marsha Bierman, although rather comical to watch, is extremely effective at whipping big fish in a short time.
Where once charter boats frowned on clients who wanted to fish stand up rather than conventional sit down fishing, it is now widely accepted. A major factor in this popularity can be credited to the macho image that it has unquestionably gained. This is where things have started to go astray, anglers having lost sight of why they are fishing stand up gear.
Stand Up or Sit Down?
Sitting in the chair immediately negates all the advantages of Stand Up rods; mobility, short pumping and fast tip recovery. Conversely, what the conventional rod gains in the chair, it loses if you stand up with it.
So what should you be using? If you can afford to own or charter a sportfisher with a fighting chair and the rods are compatible with the chair, use the chair! Personally, I have always gained as much pleasure from fishing in the chair as I have from standing up. The skill required is the same and once you become proficient, your enjoyment will increase.
Duncan demonstrates a relaxed but effective style.
If you own a smaller boat without a chair or charter a boat that doesnt have one, you should use Stand Up rods. You dont need the chair to catch big fish. On March 17th, I successfully fought a Black Marlin in the 150kg class, standing up with 50lb gear. What you do need is a good harness that you are familiar with and that is properly adjusted to fit you and your gear. This should be done before the fishing starts. As with all fishing, preparation is the key to success.
Stand Up Changes
After the strike and all the other lines have been cleared, it is best for the angler to move to the corner of the cockpit closest to the fish. I always find it more comfortable to brace my knees against the cockpit coming. Many boats have a padded coming for this reason. The cockpit should be clear of all obstructions, as the angler will want to move around during the fight. Tripping over loosely stowed gear in a heavy sea can be extremely dangerous.
Once the fight has settled down a little, use mobility to your advantage by moving around the cockpit. Concentrate on your technique and fine tune your pumping to the fish and the conditions.
Once the fight is in the final stages, be prepared for sudden dives below the boat. Be aware of the length of your rod and the position of the line in relation to the side of the boat.
Once the trace is within reach, the angler will have to step back so that the wireman can reach the trace. This is a simple operation, but one which is often forgotten. Once the wire or trace is firmly held by the wireman, tha angler should back off the drag and let the crew do their job of gaffing or tagging and releasing the fish.
Stand Up fishing is not just a passing trend. It is an effective method of fighting fish. Used correctly, it will heighten your enjoyment of the sport. Used wrongly, it wont!