3. Don't Keep Steady Pressure on the Fish
Don't be a jerk, says Lee. His pet peeve: fish lost by anglers who jerk back on the rod during the fight instead of lifting smoothly and steadily. "Once you have stuck the hook into a fish, any violent strikes or jerks from your end will only pull the hook or break something. The key to success with any trophy fish," Lee says, "is smooth and gentle."
David Bacon, who skippers the 31 Grady flybridge WaveWalker out of Santa Barbara, California, advises against what he calls "savage pumping." While hard, short stroking of big tuna may be necessary, many game fish are best brought up with more finesse, Bacon advises. And he says, "Pumping the rod wildly may wake up a fish and cause it to go ballistic, [offering the fish] more opportunities to bust a line, rip out a hook or otherwise mess up an angler's day."
Part of the secret to avoid unnecessarily horsing a good fish, Mezirow adds, is to pace yourself through a long fight. "I try to tell my clients [especially early in a battle] that it's a marathon and not a sprint."