Advice on Battling Big Marlin

Good advice from big-fish anglers

collage of four large marlin anglers
Four expert anglers chime in on how to best fight a huge marlin.Courtesy (Clockwise From Top Left): Stephan Kreupl, Heiko Steinmetz, Lydie Fayard, Larry Beard
Lydie Fayard
Lydie Fayard
Lydie Fayard
Roanne, France
Courtesy Lydie Fayard

Whenever fighting a large marlin, you must be absolutely focused on catching that particular fish. Stay strong, know what you want to achieve and never give up, even after you’ve been fighting it for what can be hours. Losing faith and mental strength will increase the chance of losing the very fish you have tried so long to catch. I have experienced many different types of fights with big fish, and you never know which one you’ll be dealing with until you start fighting her. It’s very important to choose your team wisely, because the angler is nothing ­without the right crew.

Larry Beard
Larry Beard
Larry Beard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Courtesy Larry Beard

The best advice will always come from the crew, especially because they have been doing this the majority of their lives. Fighting a large marlin can take a lot more time than you really want it to take, so learn how to properly use the equipment to your advantage. Knowing how to effectively use the fighting chair will put more pressure on the fish while taking the pressure off you. The same applies to the drag—don’t be afraid of the drag, but knowing how and when to use it can be the deciding factor. There might be only one angler and one fish, but it takes a team to successfully land it.

Stephan Kreupl
Stephan Kreupl
Stephan Kreupl
Frankfurt, Germany
Courtesy Stephan Kreupl

Despite the adrenaline-pumping initial hook up—the screaming and tension—the angler needs to stay cool and try not get nervous. Focus only on the fight, staying true to the principles of how to catch the fish, remembering the basics of technique while forgetting the laws of brute force. At the end of your line is a marlin who is fighting for her life. Be humble and respectful of this massive creature who lacks intelligence as we know it. We have made a giant science out of fishing, but don’t fool yourself into thinking the fish can be outsmarted, because luck will play the most important role at the end of the day.

Heiko Steinmetz
Heiko Steinmetz
Heiko Steinmetz
Cape Verde Islands
Courtesy Heiko Steinmetz

A grander marlin shouldn’t notice much that she is actually hooked. If the fight is very smooth and steady with a relatively low drag setting of 25 to 35 pounds, you can avoid having a huge fish sound to the depths in panic. Putting too much pressure on a big fish can sometimes lead to her death. If that happens, it will be almost impossible for any angler to lift up 1,000-plus pounds of dead weight under IGFA rules—and the battle will likely end with a broken line. Let the first shock of your monster marlin be at the gaff.