Waits says: "The ability to jump and fight unpredictably really tests an angler. He has to react quickly enough to whatever moves the fish makes or he'll lose it. These are the species easiest to lose such as tarpon and billfish." (And it's no coincidence that these very game fish topped out the ratings.)
Let's Slug It Out, Down and Dirty
"A fish that fights long and hard puts both your angling skills and your tackle to the test," says Miami skipper Dean Panos.
And from Thailand, Capt. John Pearce has observed that while anglers "may remember if a fish jumped, they never forget the aching arms and body that follow a long, tough fight."
Many participants agreed with the basic premise of well-known Southern California angler/writer Zack Thomas: "It's much more a test of will/physical strength and of your tackle to slug it out with a determined fighter that doesn't expend its energy on fireworks."
Speed Demons Rule
Adrian Gray, IGFA's production coordinator, is a professed speed freak; maximum excitement in fishing for him happens when an initial run screams out 100 yards of line, and "You feel you might have to chase the fish down."
Agrees Capt. John McMurray of New York: "There's nothing you can really compare to ... a blistering first run!"
And from the perspective of one who makes tackle, Shimano's Dave Pfeiffer says a fish with great speed challenges all aspects of an angler's ability and equipment.
Choosing a One-And-Only
Here's a challenging question to put to yourself: If you were limited to catching only one species of game fish for the rest of your life, which would you pick? The responses of 68 survey participants to this difficult premise reflected the game-fish ratings, with 13 choosing tarpon and 10 choosing blue marlin.
While these species clearly lead the field, many anglers named a different game fish as their one-and-only, in this order: yellowfin tuna (five votes), dolphin/mahi (five) and swordfish (four). These species had three votes each: giant trevally, redfish and sailfish.
Earning one or two votes: bluefin tuna, California yellowtail, bonefish, grouper, kingfish, snook, seatrout, striped bass and thresher shark.