Henry Gilbey
Cape Cod - 1010.jpg


Henry Gilbey blog

Is there a reason why we measure bass to the tip of their tail and not the fork-length?

I have never actually measured any of the bass I have caught (although a few have been measured by other anglers), but it interests me how more and more lure anglers seem to be doing so - which if done quickly I guess has to be better than hanging them from a weighing scale - and then I can’t help but wonder why the quoted length of a bass seems to be accepted as needing to be right to the tip of the tail. I ask mainly because when I see guides measure fish such as bonefish and GTs overseas, it’s accepted that the measurement is going to be to the fork of the tail, with say a 1m+ (fork-length) GT on the fly being a notable fish to aim for etc.

I don’t mean to be remotely pedantic here, and to be honest when you have that really handy BASS measuring tape with some useful indications of weight versus overall length on there then there is of course no reason to go and change things - but I do wonder if it’s simply more accurate to measure straight down the flank of a fish to the fork of a tail, rather than potentially getting a slightly wrong reading when trying to measure to the actual tip of the tail which of course it not in line with the middle of the fish. Does that make sense? Done correctly as above and you’ve got a perfectly accurate measurement, but done differently? Does it remotely matter anyway?

Is there a reason why we do it like this with our bass, or is it simply a case of how it’s always been done and therefore there is no reason to change? I must admit that I like how a lot of anglers are quoting the length of a bass these days, and whilst swinging a bass from a set of scales can’t exactly be very good for a fish’s welfare (and if you do want to weigh, please use a weigh sling or net or something like that to cradle the fish), I do also wonder about the time that I have seen some angers take over measuring their fish - which are for the most part out of the water.

I am not trying to rock any boats here, but as lure anglers especially seem to be changing the way that some things in fishing are done, I am just interested to know more about the way we measure our bass, and whether any of you out there have any thoughts of your own as regards the overall length (to tip of tail) versus the fork-length way of doing thing. In time will most lure anglers simply not even worry about an accurate weight for their bass and instead settle completely for a measurement?

Bearing in mind how much a double figure bass means though, and how as useful as that BASS measuring tape is, nobody would ever claim that the weight suggestions are completely accurate for the lengths, not when you aren’t taking into consideration the girth and overall condition of the bass. I’d love to be able to say that a 76cm bass I caught at night on an Irish beach was a 10lb+ fish for example, but it wasn’t - look how skinny the fish is in the photo above. Anyway, there we go - hardly earth shattering I grant you, but a bit of food for thought?