IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) Rules Explained

Can You Pass A Rod In Free-spool?


Can You Pass a Rod In Free Spool?

If a fish takes a bait while the reel is still in free-spool – or close to free-spool – (with the ratchet on), can a crewmember pick up the outfit from a rod holder and pass it to the angler? Similarly, if a crewmember is holding the outfit and letting out a bait when a fish strikes, can they pass the rod to the angler if the reel is still in free-spool?

The IGFA’s Angling Regulations would seem to prohibit this action. However, I notice that in the Game Fishing Association of Australia’s rules, there is a clarification that says: ‘If the mate is letting out a bait or lure and the reel is in free spool, the rod can be put back in the cover board or handed to the angler. Under no circumstances can any drag be put on the reel. This situation is legal.’ Would you please confirm the IGFA’s position on this rule?


Neither of the above situations is legal under IGFA rules. IGFA rules state that a fish is disqualified by ‘the act of persons other than the angler in touching the rod, reel or line either bodily or with any device, from the time a fish strikes or takes the bait or lure, until the fish is either landed or released.’ It matters not if the reel is in free-spool. Once the fish takes the bait, no one but the angler can touch rod, reel or line.

IGFA Rule Book: Rules Explained:

Can You Pass A Rod In Free-spool?

Answer supplied by: Jason Schratwieser
Position: IGFA Rules

This question ran in ISSUE 85 of BlueWater magazine: JUNE / JULY 2011

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Scroll to Top