More experienced anglers know how to locate and catch fish, but may struggle with the proper ways to land them. Even with practice, experienced anglers miss the gaff and lose the fish.
The entire boat loses confidence in the gaffer and the excitement can plummet. As a gaffer, a thousand things are running through your mind before the opportunity presents itself.
When holding the gaff, make sure the top is held by your dominant hand farther up on the handle so you can get the maximum amount of reach. You don’t want to throw your gaff into the boat and completely miss your chance at the fish.
When you’re in your athletic stance overlooking the side of the boat, locate the leader. As the fish makes its turn towards the boat, stay behind the leader and gaff the meaty part of its shoulder behind the gills.
Image Source As mentioned earlier, the best place to gaff a fish is in the shoulder area right behind the gills as it turns towards the boat. If placed correctly, you’ll instantly kill the fish and receive much less of a fight when it’s hooked.
These are fleshier areas and a strong head shake from the fish can easily set them free. If you’re the angler, don’t pull the head of the fish out of the water while it is waiting to be gaffed.
The fish may severely thrash around as soon as it is gaffed, so it’s not a bad idea to hold it in the water near the boat for a few seconds to let it calm down. Some anglers drop the fish on the deck once it is gaffed, but this creates the potential of someone getting hurt.
The two-inch bite works for securing fish similar in size and makeup of dolphins. If you’re targeting larger fish like Blue Marlin or Blue fin Tuna, you’ll need a flying gaff.
The hook fully detaches from the rest of the gaff once sufficient force is used. You can also choose between aluminum, fiberglass, titanium and carbon fiber poles.
The titanium and carbon fiber poles are newer products and are much lighter than aluminum or fiberglass. There are numerous types of gaffs to choose from so be sure to know your target before you make your decision.
Be aware of the rules and regulations regarding size and amount of fish you are allowed to keep. Whether it’s covering the tip with a tennis ball or placing it in a storage tube, safety should always be the top priority.
There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a piece of saltwater equipment because it was not properly cleaned. In the case of a large grouper, a gaff used in the mouth area will simply act like a big hook and the fish can be released unharmed.
The red snapper or grouper that appears to be very close to legal length needs to be netted so that it can be released if it is too short. Add to that the fact that nets nowadays are built to handle quite a lot of weight if used properly.
The small hand gaff, usually about a foot long with a wrist strap attached to its end, has been replaced in most cases by the several lip and grip devices currently on the market. Warning: Do not put a lively fifty-pound cobra on a lip grip as they can spin and twist and do some real damage to your wrist.
Wonderful charter boats rarely keep billfish these days, which is a tremendous improvement in fish conservation. That leaves your fish with the gaff hook and you with the other end of what now is essentially a hand line.
When the fight is over, simply pull the shark close to the boat and cut the line or leader. Acidic body juices will dissolve the hook in its mouth in a matter of days.
If you leave its tail in the water, it takes only a kick or two to propel the fish right into your body. Newspapers continually chronicle stories of fish jumping out of the water and biting an angler.
If you decide to gaff a fish, avoid sticking it in the gut or underbelly area. The flesh and muscle structure in this area is very weak, and the gaff will tear a huge hole if the fish continues to put up a fight.
King mackerel, mahi-mahi, and Yahoo all fit into this category Anglers fishing tournaments need to pay close attention to gaffing. Lost body fluids and blood from a poorly gaffed fish can cost you a win in some instances.
Nets are stronger today and come in sizes large enough to fit some awfully big fish. With all the rods, reels, and other flashy equipment out there, gaffs can mistakenly tumble down the boat checklist.
There are simply far too many fishing scenarios that call for one and it pays to be prepared with the right tool for the job. I’ve found that there are a lot of options out there and a surprising lack of information.
That’s why I decided to write this short guide to my favorite type of gaff and why it makes the most sense for every style of fishing. Kill Fish Company has built what I believe is hands-down the best gaff on the market, especially for the price.
Kill Fish imports real-deal Calcutta bamboo to build this product here in the USA. They go the extra mile in treating and completing the bamboo shaft to give you the perfect grip and leverage.
Rather than just throw on some mass-produced third-party hook, Kill Fish changed the game and created their own. They sell their products on Amazon, so you get the best of both worlds- small business craftsmanship and care with the convenience of the world’s most efficient marketplace.
At first glance, you’d probably assume that they aren’t as effective as an aluminum or fiberglass gaff. Whether hardcore fishermen will admit it, there’s an undeniably cool look and feel to a handmade bamboo gaff.
The average person would have an extremely tough time exerting enough force to split it. It has been commonly used throughout history in everything from house frames to concrete reinforcement to lance shafts for the British army.
A bamboo gaff will come right back up to the surface the moment it releases from a fish. Hook size really doesn’t matter and there’s really nothing out there big enough to pull down a normal-sized Calcutta bamboo shaft.
The construction is so simple and it involves only a few materials like bamboo, cord, and maybe some type of adhesive compound. If you take care of it by giving it the occasional rinse and storing it somewhere out of the sun, a bamboo gaff will outlast plenty of those made out of metal.
A bamboo shaft will handle regular salt baths a lot better than options with metal components. The work that goes into making one isn’t overly complicated, but it takes a level of skill.
You know when you see one that they put a little more “art” into what would typically be a standard, boring piece of equipment that you stash somewhere in your boat.