I usually fish for billfish and tuna out of a trailerboat with a friend. When tackling big fish it requires both of us to trace, tag-and-release, or gaff and secure the fish. To do this effectively, both of us – including the angler – need our hands free. Even though the IGFA rules apply throughout the release or gaffing procedure, the angler puts his rod and reel into a rodholder once the leader is in hand and the pressure is taken off his line. If a big fish then strips the leader from the traceman’s hands, the angler picks up the rod from the holder and resumes the battle. Is this procedure IGFA-legal for tournament fishing or record claims?
The scenario you describe would be IGFA compliant as long as the person taking hold of the leader does not let go once the rod has been placed into a rodholder. If the leader is released while the rod is still in the rodholder it would be the same as the angler resting the rod in the rodholder while playing the fish, which is not IGFA compliant and would disqualify the catch.
IGFA Rule Book: Rules Explained:
Resting Rod During The End-game
Answer supplied by: Jason Schratwieser
Position: IGFA Rules
This question ran in ISSUE 94 of BlueWater magazine: NOV / DEC 2012