Tips for Using a Fishing Harness and Belt
AFTCO harnesses and belts are designed for fighting big fish, often for prolonged periods. Capt. Eric Newman, of Journey South Outfitters in Venice, Louisiana, has more experience than most when it comes to helping anglers return to the docks with trophy game-fish catches.
Using the Right Fishing Harness or Belt
Newman makes sure his anglers have their best chance for success at the gunwale by outfitting them in a Maxforce harness with a Socorro or Clarion XL fighting belt.
Once an angler is hooked up and well into the battle, “We like to our anglers [to be fighting the fish] amidships.” That positioning, he says, gives anglers more security, with the option to lean back against the leaning post or seat or forward against the gunwale. In terms of security, Newman adds that the well-placed handle on the back of Maxforce harnesses are “a great feature.” Particularly when an angler is fighting a big, tough fish in rough conditions, a mate or another angler can simply keep a hand on that handle. “That way, if the angler loses his footing, he won’t end up in the drink.”
Where to Stand While Fighting a Big Fish
And, while anglers are often inclined to keep fighting a fish from a stern corner, relocating to a position amidships offers the advantage of some distance from the boat’s props. “With fish like giant yellowfin tuna, a popular species here in the Gulf, they like to swim in big, giant circles around the boat. That’s where a lot of them end up lost in the props.”
At the end game, when that trophy fish is at the boat, Newman advises the angler to back off on the drag lever — slightly: too much, and that’s all she wrote! — and take a step back. “You want the angler in the ready position,” he says. “If the mate or captain has to let go of the leader suddenly, or if a fish comes off the gaff, the angler won’t end up in the water if he’s in that good ready position.”
For more tips, check out our blog on How to Fight Big Fish. Another tip is to be wearing the right clothing when fighting fish in a harness. A comfortable fishing shirt helps you during a long fight reducing the amount of chaffing you might incur from the harness. Another good addition is a good pair of fishing gloves such as the AFTCO Release, Solmar, or JigPro gloves. These gloves provide padding and reduce wear and tear on your hands during a long fight. As you can tell, many tips for using harnesses are proper fit and technique but many overlooked tips involve maintenance of your body so when it's 1 Vs 1, you and the fish, you have a chance to bring in a giant.