IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) Rules Explained

Disqualified By The Strike


Disqualified by the Strike

When trolling with live or dead baits, it is common practice on many boats to leave the rod in the rodholder until after the fish is hooked. For instance, a bait rigged with a circle hook may be trolled from an outrigger with the rod set in the gunwale rodholder. The reel is almost in freespool, with the ratchet on. When a fish strikes, the angler slowly adds drag pressure until the fish is hooked. Only then does he lift the outfit out of the rodholder.

In another situation, a bait rigged with a ‘J’ hook is trolled from an outrigger clip, with a large loop of slack line trailing in the wake. The reel is set on ‘strike’ drag in the gunwale rod holder. When a fish strikes, there are several seconds until the line comes tight. During those seconds, the angler will usually rush to the rod and stand by. However, on many boats, the angler is instructed not to lift the rod out at this stage. The boat may then be gunned forward in an effort to set the hook and take the fish out beyond the other lines so that it doesn’t tangle with them when it runs. It is only at this stage – once the boat has set the hook and has again slowed (several seconds later) – that the angler is instructed to take the outfit from the rodholder.

IGFA rule 2 under Angling Regulations states that: ‘… the angler must remove the rod from the holder as quickly as possible’, so are the situations mentioned above legal?


As you correctly point out above, our rules explicitly state that: “If a rod holder is used and a fish strikes or takes the bait or lure, the angler must remove the rod from the holder as quickly as possible. The intent of this rule is that the angler shall strike and hook the fish with the rod in hand.”

The first situation above would violate IGFA rules, because the angler is tightening the drag to hook the fish, while the rod is still in the rodholder.

The second situation represents somewhat of a ‘grey area’. In instances where the captain guns the boat forward, it may not be possible for the angler to get to and pick up the rod immediately. In those situations, the IGFA allows a ‘reasonable’ amount of time for the rod to be picked up. The important consideration is that the angler must pick up the rod as soon as it is possible to do so. On the other hand, we had a record application several years ago that had accompanying testimony that stated that, after the strike, the angler waited patiently for nearly a minute as the crew cleared all the other lines out of the water before picking up the rod. That application was rejected.

IGFA Rule Book: Rules Explained:

Disqualified By The Strike

Answer supplied by: Jason Schratwieser
Position: IGFA Rules

This question ran in ISSUE 84 of BlueWater magazine: APR / MAY 2011

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