written by Captain Ricky Wheeler
Having the proper fighting belt for the task at hand not only ups your odds to land the fish on the other end of the line, but it also makes it far more enjoyable! Matching up the right belt, and if needed, harness setup for the tackle you are using and the fish you are planning to fight means the difference between success and disaster.
Your prep work with belts and harnesses should be done before you reach the fishing grounds. If you are fishing with heavy tackle for big fish, your anglers should have already fitted themselves in their belts and harnesses so when it is GO TIME, its a quick, simple, and seamless task to throw your belt and harness on when the fish hits. This is a little easier for when you are fishing with light tackle as you can get away with easy to slip on belts or even better, butt cushions. Let's dive in...
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Let's start with heavy tackle. By heavy tackle I mean 50-80 pound rod and reel stand up setups that are popular for anglers targeting larger tunas, big marlin, sharks, swordfish, or any large animal that needs heavy tackle. If you expect your fight to be a long one, a harness setup is highly recomended!!! Here are my favorites that I have had a lot of success with on my charter boats with customers.
What I like the most about this setup other then the very cushy fighting belt pad, is how you can easily leave the harness on you throughout the day and quickly unclip the fighting belt pad when it is not in use. When that big fish piles on, you are ready to go by simply clipping the pad into place and you are ready to go to battle. The straps have a lot of possible adjustments that you can make to you can assure you will be comfortable as well as effective when fighting a big fish.
The next stand up belt and harness system that has been a popular options are the Black Magic Series. They come in a few different size options which helps them more on a personal level if you are looking to get your own personal fighting belt and harness setup.
The nice thing about the Black Magic Belt is that it has a piece in the mold of the belt pad that slides in between your legs which helps keep the pad from sliding from side to side for those scenarios when you have to slide step across the cockpit. While many find this feature helpful, some find it uncomfortable.
A good harness to get that can be easily added mid fight with any Fighting Belt Pad is the Aftco Max Force Harness. I personally love this harness as it is very easy to setup and comfortable to have on. While it is meant to be paired with the Aftco Stand Up Fighting Belt, it is great with any fighting belt as an add on.
You can set this harness up with a pad of your choice to be setup as a "drop belt harness" much like the Playaction Harness and Belt setup mentioned first or just use it as an add on mid fight when your angler is showing fatique and could use the help of a harness.
The Aftco Stand Up Fighting Belt is my personal favorite all around mid weight fighting belt pad that is great for shorter fights on mid size to heavy tackle adn will allow your angler to comfortably fight a fight with a heavier rod and reel with a 50 pound class rod and reel outfit. It is also a greta belt to add a harness to if needed.
Once we scale down in the tackle to more light tackle, 30 pound class and less, the need for these bigger and bulkier fighting belts are unnecessary and also counter productive. If I belt is at all needed, my go to belt is any belt that is quick, simple, and easy to put on. I have become a big fan of the Playaction Snap On Rod Belt. This belt comes in a few different sizes to give you the option to fit a range of people in a size range. Thye do not need any adjusting as they are made of plastic that is very durable with excellent memory and the inside has foam padding to make it comfortable for the angler.
Simply spring the arms open and snap the belt in place around the hips of the angler. It is easy as that!
Another option for a lightweight fighting belt would be the Aftco Alijos Lightweight Fighting Belt. This is a belt that you can easily wear all day if needed or easily just put on for any light tackle or short fights. An even better option for light tackle fights where you don't really need a belt, but you want to save your groin from bruises is the Luna Sea Cush It which is an easy to slide on cushion for the butt of your rod.
The Cush It come in quite a few size options to get the right one to match your rod(s). The Luna Sea Cush-It is ultralight, durable, and very versatile. Having this amount of cushion allows the angler to comfortably fight the fish and still put the proper amount of leverage on the fish without worrying about bruising. They are so easy to store and a must have for any fishing boat.
As you can see, there are many options, and even more then what was mentioned here, but these are my favorites and mainstays aboard any boat I am on as they have proven themselves day in and day out for me and all of my guests aboard my boat. To book a trip with me, Captain Ricky Wheeler, aboard my 60' Sportfishing Boat visit https://www.euphoriasportfishing.com.