You may be an expert at fighting big-game pelagics standing high above the water in the cockpit of a sport-fisher as it backs down. But head out on your little plastic boat, and the skill set really changes. Here are some suggestions.
Keep the fight forward - The instant the circle hook takes and a stripe explodes behind your yak, push the rudder hard right or left, depending in which quarter the marlin wants to go, and using the rod pointed off the same side, pull your bow around quickly but carefully. Kayaks are made to go forward; as long as you keep the pull anywhere from the port to starboard quarter, you'll be in control. Particularly toward the end of a fight when the fish is close and things can happen quickly, this is critical. Stay alert, moving quickly, and you should have no problem.
Call in a hookup - Once a marlin is well hooked and heading away (with you in tow), you should be able to use one hand to call in your hookup (unless it's close enough to the mothership or tender to be clearly noted). By noting the location of the coast, you can indicate which direction you're headed as well.
Use a conventional reel - Most marlin anglers will choose conventional over spin, though big, high-quality spinning reels are surely up to the task of handling striped marlin. I brought a big Stella with 50-pound braid just to try it - and quickly discovered its big disadvantage on a kayak. The amount of space when reeling down to gain line on each stroke is limited to about waist level by the kayak. The conventional reel, on top of the rod, permits you to drop the rod right to the plastic; a spinner hangs down, so your drop-stroke is halved.
Use your sea anchor if necessary - Its additional drag makes a marlin's task of towing your yak far more difficult, considerably slowing the rate of pull. In fact, most of the time, I found I did not want to deploy it because, frankly, I had no desire for a slow ride! However if, for example, I found that a marlin was pulling me inexorably toward a boat hooked up, I put out the sea anchor to allow more time for things to resolve before any unwanted get-togethers.
Release no fish before its time - Gauge the condition of the marlin before you attempt to bill it boat-side: If it is clearly green, be patient. When you bill it, keep the business end pointed well away from you, preferably toward the bow, and if the fish proves a bit too feisty, let go. If you can easily remove the hook and feel secure doing so, go for it; otherwise, snip the leader. I ended up cutting one at the hook that, despite my best efforts, didn't want to come out.
Take time to tow - If at release your fish isn't kicking hard, simply hold the bill in one hand alongside the boat and start pedaling (another reason that makes these Hobie kayaks the real choice for this fishing). I did so for a good 10 minutes with one tired marlin before it swam off strongly.
Above all, remember that line cutter on a cord hanging from your neck! In the unlikely event you ever feel that any situation threatens to get out of control, use it.