Science Behind The Fight: Part 6 – Proper Stance
By: The Angler
In the previous issue of The Angler we looked at the muscle groups affected when fighting a hard fighting, powerful game fish. Before you read on just take a moment to imagine that you are fighting a big fish. Don’t just imagine but close your eyes and bring to mind a time you went fishing and fought a strong fish. Imagine you are in the midst of the battle with this hard fighting fish.
[ Lactic acid is the burn one feels when working on a muscle, and the muscle gets strained… ]
As you are imagining this; pay attention to the way you stand. Take a look at your hands. See one of your hands holding on to your fishing rod while your other hand holds on to the reel handle; while you fight that fish. Notice how your hands are, how your body is, how your legs stand, and then imagine someone taking a photo of you; full body shot. With eyes still closed imagine taking a look at the photo. Notice your stance from your hands, to your body, and to your legs. Then open your eyes.
There are all sorts of stances that anglers use when fighting a fish.
You may or may not be fighting the fish with a good stance. It is ok. I do not know what fish you were fighting; but it worked for you. You fought the fish and you landed it. All good there. But what if it were to be a big game fish such as a sailfish, marlin, tuna, or giant trevally; and you are out at sea fighting it on an unstable boat. A good stable stance that helps you conserve energy is important.
The Proper Stance
So what stance should you adopt when fighting a big game fish that will keep you stable and helps you conserve energy, allowing you to fight the fish much longer before needing to put up with lactic acid build up. Lactic acid is the burn one feels when working on a muscle, and the muscle gets strained.
The act of trying to stop a powerful big game fish is taxing on many of the muscle groups of the angler.
Let us start with the upper body, and work our way down to the lower body. That said we will start with our hands or arms. First, the hand that is holding the rod. Hold the rod with your hand stretched out straight. This helps you transfer the pressure from your bicep and forearm, to your shoulder and trapezius. Bending your arms will put pressure on your biceps and forearms. Lactic acid burn at these two muscles mean that your arms will hurt during the fight.
Bending your arms when fighting a powerful big game fish is not a good idea. One tires out faster.
Most anglers fight with bent hands as that is how they fight the fish when they first starter fishing. This method of fighting is okay as they are normally fighting smallish fish that are a lot less powerful. That way of holding the rod and fighting the fish has become muscle memory. When they transfer that memory to big game fishing, they burnout fast.
By straightening your hand (the hand that is holding the rod), your biceps, forearms, shoulder, and trapezius become more of a support system instead of being part of the main working muscles. The brunt of the pressure moves from your arm, shoulder, and trapezius; to your back. Your back is a bigger group of muscles, more capable to handling the pressure. As for your reeling hand, it simply just spins the reel handle when the need arises. So, no issues.
Stretch out and straighten your arms to conserve energy and muscle strength when fighting a powerful big game fish.
The lower back is a group of powerful muscles. That said, it will get affected by lactic acid. It can also get injured if your stance is not good. So what do you do? Keep your lower back straight and your upper back curving to the back slightly, with your chest out; the way a soldier stands. If you bend forwards and hold that stance, your back will start to hurt. So, you do not want to be in that stance for long.
[ Never ever fight a hard fighting big game fish while standing up straight… ]
Imagine that you are a Japanese warrior. While standing straight bend to the front slightly while maintaining a straight back; just like how a Japanese warrior gives a bow. Not too low though. Then stand up straight again. Do this bowing and standing back up movement when it comes time to pump the fish. Most people pump the fish using their arms. When fighting a big game fish, pump the fish with your back. Remember that your arms are just for support.
What if you are seated? The same applies. Bend your body to the front and back again, while maintaining a stretched out hand, when pumping the fish. This will allow you to fight the fish longer and complete the fight. Also do adjust your stance according to the muscle group needed during the fight.
If you are fighting a powerful big game fish bending forward, even slightly; your lower back will feel the strain fast..
Never ever fight a hard fighting big game fish while standing up straight. You will be pulled overboard. If you are standing, bend your knees, and lean back as you fight the fish. The higher the pressure the lower you sit (imagine sitting on air), and the more you lean back. You will be somewhat squatting. The forward pressure helps you balance. This will help you to maintain balance and transfer some of the pressure from the lower back to your legs, reducing the impact.
If you are sitting on a fighting chair or on a platform on a boat, place your legs on the platform of the fighting chair, or on the side of the boat, slightly bent. This helps you to maintain balance and also helps you pump in the fish. Push off the platform of the fighting chair, or the side of the boat (on whatever your feet are resting on) while you bend backwards when pumping the fish.
Best to bent your knees, sit lower, and lean back. This way you get the best balance.
When the fish is running, just hold on to your stance; maintaining a stretched out hand, bent backwards back, and bent legs as if somewhat seating (if seated, just place legs slightly bent on the fighting chair’s platform, or at the sight of the boat). How much bent on the legs and how far back to lean will depend on the pressure exerted by the fish on you. Adjust accordingly during the run.
In the next issue we will look at other things that are somewhat linked to stance; and they too are affected when battling a hard fighting, powerful big game fish. My recommendation for now is to practise your stance by using your big game tackle, securing the line to and anchor on the ground, and getting into your fighting position. Ensure that your tackle can support your weight.