Tips for Using a Fishing Harness and Belt

Tips for Using a Fishing Harness and Belt

AFTCO's cutting-edge harnesses and belts are engineered for the ultimate aquatic warriors – the tackle-busting champions of the deep who go the distance. To help anglers get the upper hand, captains Eric and Moe Newman of Journey South Outfitters in Venice, Louisiana trust AFTCO harnesses and belts to ensure their clients return to the docks with trophy catches.

Use the Right Fishing Harness or Belt

Captain Eric Newman’s go-to fishing setup starts with an AFTCO Maxforce XH harness paired with a Socorro or Clarion XL fighting belt. The Socorro belt works with 50-80-pound tackle and holds its own against tough gamefish like marlin, wahoo, tuna, and yellowtail. The other big game fishing belt is the Clarion XL. It distributes the load evenly for maximum pull and leverage while keeping anglers comfortable. 

Once an angler is hooked up and well into the battle, Captain Eric says, "We like our anglers to fight fish amidship." That positioning, he says, gives anglers more security with the option to lean back against the leaning post or forward against the gunwale.

For safety, Newman adds that the handle on the back of the Maxforce XH harness is an excellent feature because it helps prevent anglers from losing their footing and going overboard. Before casting, always have your fishing harness and belt fitted and ready so when a fish is on, it's game on.

Where to Stand

It might be tempting for anglers to fight their fish from a stern corner, but moving to mid-ship helps avoid your line from getting caught in the boat’s prop. “With fish like giant yellowfin tuna, a popular species in the Gulf, they like to swim in giant circles around the boat. Many of them end up lost in the props unless anglers hold their position at mid-ship,” Captain Eric says.

Stance plays an important role in fighting fish, but strategy and technique are essential. The goal is to maximize efficiency to avoid angler fatigue and give nearby predators like sharks the chance to steal your catch. With your harness and belt in place, positioned at mid-ship, anglers should keep their knees bent and lean back. Keeping your weight back will help you avoid an unexpected swim.

When a fish starts to run, anglers should keep their non-dominant hand over the face of the reel with their dominant hand on the reel handle. Let the fish run first to avoid wasting your strength at the beginning of the fight. When you have the chance to gain back line, put your non-dominant hand over the reel and lean forward as you start winding. From there, anglers should squat back into their harness and lift the rod to pump the fish towards the boat.

At the end of the fight, with your catch at the boat, Captain Eric recommends slightly backing off the drag lever and stepping back. “The angler should stay in a ready position. That way, if the captain suddenly has to let go of the leader or the fish comes off the gaff, the angler won’t end up in the water if they’re in a solid-ready stance.”

Other Tips for Fighting Fish

Clothing affects an angler’s ability to fight big gamefish. If you’re uncomfortable, you’ll focus on that instead of landing your fish. AFTCO staples like the Samurai Sun Protection Hoodie paired with the Tactical Fishing Shorts will keep you comfortable and protected from the elements on the water. 

Another good addition is a high-quality pair of fishing gloves. The AFTCO ReleaseSolmar, and JigPro gloves have padding to help reduce wear and tear on your hands so you can stay in the fight. Learn how to fit AFTCO fishing harnesses and belts properly.

AFTCO Belts and Harnesses

AFTCO fishing harnesses and belts perfect for your tackle collection when you're out on the water anticipating a big fight.

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