IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) Rules Explained

Using A Device – Including Indirect Assistance – To Set The Hook


Using a Device to set the hook

When bait-and-switching with very light tackle, we occasionally break the mainline during the initial strike or when trying to set the hook. To eliminate these break-offs we have started attaching a heavier piece of line (approximately 20 to 30 metres) to the swivel that connects the double line to the leader, and this is then held by a crewman during the switch. The angler free-spools the bait to the fish, then the crewman pulls the separate line tight, setting the hook, and then releases it while the angler engages the drag. Because the crewman is indirectly touching the leader, which is legal, is this method okay by IGFA rules?


While you are correct that the crewman is able to touch the leader, either directly or indirectly, your method is still not legal by IGFA rules. The rules state that: “Outriggers, downriggers, spreader bars and kites are permitted to be used provided that the actual fishing line is attached to the snap or other release device, either directly or with some other material. The leader or double line may not be connected to the release mechanism either directly or with the use of a connecting device.”

In the situation described above, the crewman would be considered as ‘a device’, similar to an outrigger, downrigger, spreader bar or kite. By holding the leader (indirectly), the crewman is breaking the rule that prohibits the leader or double line being directly connected to the release device.

The intent of this rule is that the angler strikes and hooks as well as plays the fish on the mainline, not on the leader or double line.

IGFA Rule Book: Rules Explained:

Using A Device – Including Indirect Assistance – To Set The Hook

Answer supplied by: Jack Vitek
Position: IGFA World Records Coordinator

This question ran in ISSUE 98 of BlueWater magazine: JULY / AUG 2013

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

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