A SINGING REEL – HOW SWEET THE SOUND

My tuna in the boat 2The sweetest music to a fisherman’s ears is the tune played by a fishing reel, when line is screaming off the spool, as your prize catch grabs your bait and decides to leave the scene in hast. It is a “Sweet Sound” that only fishermen understand.

Depending on the rod and reel, the type and size of the reel, the size and kind of line used, and the species of fish on the other end of the line, the music is as varied as Mozart and Bach is from hip ho and heavy metal. From the small light spinner, to the Shimano Calcutta 700, to the Fin Nor 12/0, each instrument has it’s own unique tune. They are as varied as the instruments in a full orchestra.

Each species of fish has it’s own unique fight. Some make swift long runs and others just dog the line from the reel. A wahoo will sing a reel while ripping off hundreds of yards of 50 lb. or 80lb. test line at over 50 miles per hour. A blue marlin or large tuna will do the same while pulling 35 or 45 lbs. of strike drag, on 130 lb. test line, from a reel. A good sized bone fish, on the flats, will spool a light tackle spinning reel, or fly reel in a heart beat. A red fish, permit or cuda will do the same. Each has it’s own tune on different instruments. The music is sweet to the ears.

Having fished for over sixty years professionally and privately, I have heard many of those “Sweet Sounds’ over the years. But there is none so “Sweet” as that of of a 600+ lb giant blue fin tuna, strumming a 12/0 Fin Nor, on a 13o lb rod, which is tied to a cockpit fighting chair to keep the rod in the boat. The music is majestic while great tuna is stripping off over 700 yards of line in mere minutes, pulling a measured 45 lbs. of strike drag off the tip of the rod.

At the strike, the boat turns to run with the fish full out at 30 knots. The chair is turned sideways in the cockpit as the boat chases the fish to the Drop a mile and a half off shore, where the fish is headed. The reel sings to a high pitch  as the line is stripped from the spool at lightning speeds. The more line that is taken, the faster the spool spins and the higher the pitch of the music.

The sound of the music increases to a steady melody as the 130lb line screams through gold anodized fin nor roller guides on a now bent 130 lb. class rod. You are strapped in the bucket harness with the harness straps snapped on the ring eyes of the Fin Nor 12/0 which is on the rod, tied in the chair gimble between your legs. You are “In The Air” as the power of the great fish has lifted your entire weight off the chair. The boat continues to chase after him. Your legs are burning and begin to shake, with your feet solidly planted on the foot stand of the fighting chair. As they attempt to withstand the pressure of the pull on the rod against them your legs become weakened. The reel sings louder as the fish strips the line, while still outrunning the boat to the edge.

As the giant tuna presses hard to reach the deep water, and the boat continues the chase. The tune of the reel reaches a crescendo, as the line on the spool seems to continue to evaporate, and the spool turns faster and faster. Then the tune suddenly begins to soften, as the fish reaches the deep water and begins to sound. The boat slows to a stop and the captain spins the boat to address the cockpit to the diving fish. Line continues to spool of the reel, but the sound is now soft and steady. The drag is now over ridden from 45 lbs. to 80 lbs. to pop the fish up if possible. Finally the music is temporarily silenced. The fish is coming back the the surface and you begin to gain line swiftly, as you have shifted the two speed reel into high gear. After several tiring minutes, you have retrieved most of the 700 yards of line, and the fish has pooped back to the surface. Once again however, he decides to leave the scene. The song is not over yet. The reel sings again, and at an even higher pitch, with 75 lbs. of drag on the giant. Several hundred yards of line disappear from the reel once again.  The run is brief, but is then followed by two more short bursts at high pitch. Finally the music stops. The final yards of line are cranked on the big reel, and the concert is over. The great fish takes his bow at the side of the boat, and the lights go out.  “How Sweet the Sound” to a fisherman’s ears.

My tune 3

My tuna doug & larry

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