If the fish is wrapped in the leader, or comes in at a strange angle or even belly up, do not gaff the fish in the belly. The belly skin is thin and will tear easily. A belly-gaffed fish will naturally right itself on the gaff, causing the gaff head to fall out. By reaching forward, parallel to the boat, a shoulder or back shot can be acquired. Stay away from gaffing the head, gill plate or tail section.
The gaff man should be acutely aware of where he is in relation to the gaff line before the gaff breaks the plane of the covering board. If the fish is being gaffed on the port side, the gaff line should be aft or on the gaff man’s left side, the wire man on his right, and the reverse is true on the starboard side.