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How to Gaff Fish

How to Gaff Fish

There are various methods used to land big fish but learning how to gaff fish is one of the most important. A gaff is a long metal pole with a large hook on the end. It is used to lift large fish into the boat when the weight of the fish exceeds the strength of the rod and reel. This technique is used when looking to harvest the fish.



Choosing the Correct Gaff

When choosing the correct gaff it can get confusing. The variety of gaffs are like the variety of fishing rods almost endless. So when searching for the proper gaff you must think of size and strength.

When purchasing a gaff keep in mind that it needs to be a durable gaff. You don’t want to buy just any cheap gaff. If you are using a gaff your most likely gaffing an Trophy Size Fish! The type of gaff that we use on Finao Sportfishing is a 6ft Aftco with a 5 inch gap hook. This size gaff is great for fish from 30-100 pounds. We use this gaff for many species in Virginia like Cobia, Amberjack, Rays, and Tuna just to name a few.

Click the Video below to see Finao Sportfishing Gaff a Giant Cobia!

Knowing when to use the Gaff

Patience and knowing when to use the gaff is the first step. When using a gaff it is not always easy to get the fish to cooperate. The first thing we recommend is letting the angler fight the fish until the fish becomes exhausted. You can tell when the fish is beginning to get exhausted as it will usually come to the surface and not swim away. You never want to gaff a fish while it is still full of energy. It can cause the gaff to get ripped out of your hands or jump off of the gaff!

Positioning the gaff and angler is very important. The person using the gaff needs to be placed next to the angler where the fish is going to surface boat side. Always make sure you are clear of the fishing line when using the gaff. One hit of the gaff on the fishing line can cause it to break.

how to gaff fish

How to Gaff Fish

Gaffing the Fish

Once the fish is tired out and boat side on the surface it is now time to begin gaffing the fish. Knowing where to place the gaff can be the difference between landing and losing the fish. The best area to gaff the fish is behind the head underneath the Dorsal fin. Gaffing a fish in the head, tail, or stomach is never a good choice. Doing so can cause the fish to jump off the gaff and break free.

dorsal fin

Fish fins

As the fish is swimming on the surface slowly place the gaff over the fish’s back aligning the gaff hook up over the Dorsal fin. Accuracy and patience is one of the most important things to remember when gaffing. A common thing people do when gaffing fish is pulling the gaff extremely hard and fast. That can lead to missing the fish or ripping the gaff threw him. On these larger fish it is more about accuracy and allowing the weight of the fish to help the gaff pierce through.

After you have the fish on the gaff it is now time to lift it into the boat. The longer the fish is in the water the higher chance you have of him coming off the gaff. Once you gaff the fish hold the gaff pole strong making sure to keep control of the fish. With two hands you want to pull the fish towards the boat. Once he is along the boat pull the gaff vertically up and over the railing. A common mistake that is made is trying to lift the gaff over the railing horizontally. If lifted like this the fish can slide off of the gaff hook.

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Watch these Videos Below to learn how Finao Sportfishing Gaff Fish.








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Goliath Grouper Fishing Charter

April 21, 2022 @ 12:00 AM EDT

These massive Grouper are native to South Florida and live on reefs, wrecks, and any underwater structure. Not only are they extremely large averaging 100-400 pounds they also are incredibly strong! Fighting these fish will be memorable and a life changing experience.