The Friday Rant - 01.11.2013

Line class records - I just don't get it, in fact I despise the whole getting one's name in a record book because so and so "played" a fish for much longer than necessary because of the use of these ridiculously light lines somewhere in the set up. How on earth does this make anybody a better angler just because you can mess around with a fish for much longer and then claim some kind of pointless record for doing so ?

I was emailed a link to the capture of a 19lb 13oz (African) threadfin caught in Angola fairly recently, on 2lb line - this is not a particularly big threadfin anyway, but in IGFA terms it's newsworthy because the angler used 2lb line to try and claim a record that is (or was) "currently vacant" ? Does the use of such light line make the capture all the more impressive ? Nope, not in my opinion. It means less to me because you just know the angler had to have deliberately gone so light purely on the hunt for "recognition" via an IGFA records list. Yes, many of us most likely fish heavier than we need to a lot of the time, but why would anybody want to play a fish for longer than is absolutely necessary to get it in and either release it or dispatch it for consumption ?

I am not against World Records for fish if that is your thing, of course not, but I just don't like this "let's scale right down for a line class record" thing. Try as I might I just can't understand the reasoning behind it. I have heard too many stories of extremely wealthy people travelling the globe on the hunt for all manner of line class records - why ? Has the simple thrill of fishing been lost ? Surely it's the simple thrills which remain eternally alluring for a true anglers, and as such I don't personally respect these line class record chasers as "true anglers" at all. The chase, the bite or the hit, the fight, that's what fishing is about. How does getting your name on some list because you put a bit of 4lb line in there for tarpon fishing make you any better because you then had to play the poor thing for so long ?

Look, I am not remotely against scaling right down when required. As I said earlier, plenty of us in UK and Irish saltwater angling are most likely fishing heavier than we need to a lot of the time, but so what ? So you don't need 30lb braid for lure fishing for bass - who cares ? If you can catch the fish and get them in then good for you. Over time you might find that you can catch more fish by fishing say with a lighter leader or by covering more ground via lighter mainlines, but if you want to fish heavy and have every faith that you are going to get your fish in then go for it. But inserting specific sections of ultra-light line somewhere in the set up (wherever the IGFA decrees, and to be honest I don't remotely understand the rules and regulations anyway) to try and beat some pointless line class record ? It's beyond me.

Take an animal of a fish in shallow water and on the fly - GTs on tropical flats. The lads I have worked around use 130lb Sufix Zippy straight through as their tippet/leader on the end of their fly line. GTs have teeth, they are stupidly aggressive, the fly gets enough turnover on that 130lb Zippy, and why not give yourself a bit of added protection against abrasion ? The good anglers I have seen pull the living hell out of these fish when they are hooked, to the point that I am sometimes left open-mouthed at how fast such big, powerful fish can be subdued and then released. And yes, I subscribe to the school of pulling the hell out of your fish and then getting them back as green as possible - I also understand completely when light leaders and hooklengths are required for some kinds of fishing - spooky trout in gin clear water ?

So why would any "real" angler then go and lessen the grief they need to put on a rampaging predator like a GT by making sure to comply with whatever daft line class rules for whatever record they happen to be chasing ? My friend Nick Hart overcame all manner of tide/wind/sea state obstacles a few years back out at Rost off the coast of Norway and landed a 29lb 12oz coalfish on fly gear. Most of these fish do go back successfully, but although Nick put all manner of grief on the fish, for some reason it would not swim back and we took it back to camp - hence the exact weight. Now we were pretty sure at the time (August 2007) that this coalfish was the largest one taken on a fly, but I know Nick had zero interest in trying to claim any kind of record, and he couldn't have done so anyway because his tippet was I believe heavier than what the IGFA "allowed" under their rules. Tell me the sense in that. OK, so the fish did in fact not go back, but Nick was able to pull the hell out of the fish and to me it was pure bad luck that this particular coalfish would not swim back down when the rest did.

So if another angler does the same thing but is making sure to abide by "the rules", does this then make their capture the more worthy because the "right" bit of line was in there ? Garbage if you ask me. Sure, tell me that you can't break so and so line on so and so rod. Great, but I simply don't care. Live and let live of course, but try as I might I just can't find the "sport" in deliberately fishing line that sane anglers know is too light to get the job done properly purely for a mention in a list of records.