How To Gaff A Fish Like A Fishing Pro (And How NOT To Gaff A Fish) – VIDEO

By: Joseph Simonds on August 26, 2015
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how to gaff a fish

Have you ever gaffed a fish before?

It’s not as easy as the fishing pros make it look if you have never tried it.

In fact, I would be willing to bet that even most fishing pros and fishing guides have missed a gaff or two (or a dozen) in their fishing careers. Especially when first learning how to gaff. I know I certainly am not batting 1000 when it comes to gaffing a fish…

And even though it may sound simple to gaff a fish (I mean, all you have to do is get a sharp hook into a fish, right?), there are actually numerous best practices and must-know tips when it comes to correctly gaffing a fish.

Because the last person you want to be is the guy or gal on the boat that everyone hates for one of the three following reasons:

  1. Immediately after your missed gaff the fish is eaten by a shark…
  2. Your missed gaff ends up catching the leader line, and quickly breaking off the fish…
  3. Shortly after your missed gaff attempt, the fish takes a quick jump and the hook is popped off…

Gaffing Tips

(From Saltwater Experience)

how to gaff a fish

Rich & Tom of Saltwater Experience with a nicely gaffed mahi

In this “How To Gaff” fishing tip post, we couldn’t think of anyone better to turn to than our friends Tom Rowland and Rich Tudor from Saltwater Experience (make sure to check out their awesome Saltwater Experience blog here).

Not only do these fishing experts have one of the most popular fishing TV shows out there (Saltwater Experience), but they have also gaffed more dolphin than most people living today.

So here are a few of the must-know tips on correctly gaffing a fish like a pro:

  • Shoot for the fish’s head area with your gaff, and try to avoid the middle of the fillet
  • Never aim for the tail when gaffing a fish
  • Never “stab” at the fish
  • Never rush the gaff job. Wait until the fish is ready, close by, and that you have a clean shot
  • Reach “Over” the fish when gaffing
  • Gaff the fish in one fluid motion all the way into the boat (you are basically swinging the fish in)
  • Always sweep the gaff toward the boat
  • The angler fighting the fish should always make sure to never lift the fish’s head out of the water while waiting on the gaff. Keep the fish right below the surface
  • Try to make sure the fish never touches the boat when you are pulling the fish out of the water (until it is in the cooler or fish box of course)
  • Make sure you have the right size gaff and hook based on your boat and the type of fish you are targeting
  • Always make sure you have a clear path from the gaff area to the cooler/fish box (as the less blood and potential broken rods by a green fish the better)
  • Make sure there are no young kids near the gaff at any time
  • Make sure your gaff is sharp and free of any rust (even stainless steel can show signs of rust if left in poor circulated compartments with saltwater on it)
  • NEVER gaff a fish that you aren’t 100% sure you are going to keep
  • NEVER gaff a fish that you aren’t 100% sure is a keeper (aka… legal size and in season)
  • Not a bad idea to have a wrist cord on any straight gaff in case a strong fish makes a quick move while you are prepared
  • Finally, cover the gaff hook with a plastic cover, safety spring, cork, tennis ball or something protective while not in use

How To Gaff A Fish Like A Pro (Video)

Watch Rich Tudor from Saltwater Experience show you how to correctly gaff a fish, including a few tips to be mindful of.

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When To Gaff A Fish (Video)

Not all fish are “Gaffable”.

Meaning, you don’t need to bring out the gaff on small fish, and you certainly don’t want to gaff a fish that might be a borderline keeper. When in doubt, don’t gaff the fish.

Check out Rich Tudor’s second brief video below on when you should go for the gaff.

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How NOT To Gaff A Fish (Video)

Now that you know exactly how and when to gaff a fish like a pro angler, here is a gaffing video where you can learn exactly what NOT to do.

Because sometimes watching someone else mess up can be the best learning experience out there.

And I have yet to see anyone miss a fish with a gaff this many times.

Let this be a lesson to lay off the beer before gaffing a fish…

Enjoy and Fish On!

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I hope you learned something new in this post about gaffing a fish.

I know I sure did while doing all of the research for it. No more missed gaff attempts for me!

But even if you do mess up, know that even the pros have bad days gaffing… so just take a deep breath and wait for that perfect gaff shot!

And just like anything, practice makes perfect…

Related Fishing Tip: “3 Simple Ways To Bridle Rig Your Live Bait To Catch More Fish” (click here to see the video)

P.S. – If you think your friends or fishing network would enjoy this, please Tag them or Share this with them. It would mean a lot to me. You Rock! Pa-POW!

Fish On!

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