What is the Hardest Fighting Fishing? (Complete Breakdown)

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When you’re after a particular target fish, one of the most important things to consider is how that fish will fight and what to expect before you’re able to get it to air. Knowing how a fish fights makes the experience more fun, as you can predict its movements and counter appropriately.

The hardest fighting fishing pound-for-pound are billfish, tuna, grouper, mahi mahi, and tarpon in saltwater, striped bass, steelhead, and salmon in intercoastal waters, and carp and northern pike in freshwater. Saltwater fish are generally much harder on gear and stronger fighters than freshwater fish.

SpeciesPound-for-Pound Fighting Score

This article will rate which fish are pound-for-pound the best fighters, what to expect in regards to their fighting style, as well as who the biggest bruisers are in the waters.

Breakdown & Fight Rating by Species

big dolphin jumps from water
Mahi mahi are one of the hardest fighting fish you can catch.

Largemouth Bass

Fight Rating: 5/10

Despite their popularity as a gamefish, largemouth bass do not put up a great fight compared to many other fish. Their fight is over quickly with the bass quickly fatiguing after a strong start. Most largemouth bass even given their widely variable poundage are going to fight in the same manner.

A largemouth bass is going to surprise you off the jump but will soon tire after a hard struggle. Heavier largemouth are going to weigh the line and put more resistance on the reel, but once they’re done with their initial fight it’s mostly just going to involve the struggle of bringing them to air.

In short, these fish will certainly test an angler and drag hard from the bite, but once you’ve worn them down they become much more complacent to being reeled.

Regarding gear, monofilament line is an all-around inexpensive and reliable choice for most circumstances, with 8-20 lb. test and favoring higher weight for heavy cover.

For jigs, swimbaits, and crankbaits, braided line is a great choice in the 25-50 lb. range. Circle hooks and kahle hooks are both great choices since largemouths are going to run with the bait, with an assortment of sizes being best ranging between 4 and 6/0.

Smallmouth Bass

Fight Rating: 6/10

Compared to the more popular largemouth bass, the smallmouth bass puts up a much stronger fight which often results in peeled drag and the occasional straightened hook. Smallmouth bass are considered a very strong freshwater fish.

Like with the Iceland vs. Greenland naming situation, smallmouth are deceiving in that they certainly put no small effort in escaping a line.

Despite the implications of their name, smallmouth bass are not only comparable in strength to largemouth bass, but will often put up an ever harder fight and make you think you’ve snagged a big one.

Smallmouth bass have a large tail-to-body ratio since they’re geared for fighting against strong river currents, which gives them much denser muscles and far more power in the water.

Smallmouth will tend to hold more sustained pressure on the line and will move more erratically, making use of those strong muscles and forcing you to fight longer to tucker them out.

The line you use is going to depend mostly on conditions and what kind of rod/tackle you’re running with. For clearer conditions, fluorocarbon is ideal but monofilament works fine, ideally between 6-12 lbs test.

For higher cover and murkier water where the line is going to be better obscured, you can favor more along the lines of 10-12 lbs. monofilament/copolymer. The range of smallmouth hook sizes is the same as largemouth, but you’ll mostly be favoring #1, 1/0, and 2/0 without a rig.

Striped Bass

Fight Rating: 8/10

Spending time in both fresh and saltwater, it is hard to find a harder pound-for-pound fighting fish than the striped bass. Striped bass are known for their long-runs, ripping drag, and breaking strong hooks.

Stripers are pound for pound one of the nastiest bruisers and are arguably the most fun bass species to fight. Depending on the weight of your line, striped bass tend to immediately run with the bait, will quickly tap the line and hit hard, then put up one long run before tiring out and giving up.

Their initial hit on the plug can sometimes be an explosive one, and when they run they tend to grind in a downward angle away from you and tear drag off the real.

Because of this and since they seek cover and tend to drag along boulders, you’ll want to be picky with your gear unless you want to wake up sore in the morning.

A medium-rated rod and a 40 or 50 rated spinning reel is ideal, with braided line between 25-30 lb. and a 10-15 lb. test fluorocarbon leader is a great all-around setup for using soft baits, jigs, and plugs. Circle hooks should be in the larger range, typically 8/0-9/0.

Crappie

Fight Rating: 4/10

Because of their tall, flat bodies, crappie tend to fight at an angle swimming towards the angler. They do not put up a great fight and are comparable to bluegill in their strength.

Similar to other panfish, crappy tend to be lightweights against a line. With their average weight being around a pound, they don’t hit hard and never put up much of a fight, making them an easy year-round catch and toss staple.

They’re typically reeled in at an angle due to the shape of their body causing them to drag somewhat against the water.

If you’re someone chasing a good fight, crappie really aren’t it. However, as a fish that tends to aggressively ambush prey, they do run very aggressively and erratically for a short spell, which can in itself be pretty fun.

Because they frantically seek cover they can easily tangle your line, which means you’ll have to drag against them when they run to keep them in place and tire them out.

Regarding your line, 4-8 lbs. is arguably the range you should always be in when targeting crappie. Anything above that is going to be unnecessary and get clumsy.

Circle hook sizes should range between size 6 at the lightest and 2 if you’re targeting large crappies. This setup works great for soft plastics or live bait.

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American Shad

Fight Rating: 6/10

American shad are one of the most underrated fighting fish you can catch. Despite only ground to about 2 pounds, these fish are very strong and put up a great fight, especially on ultralight tackle.

American shad are one of those few small varieties that will surprise you with a long, hearty fight and a variety of movements, including a propensity to jump above the surface which makes for a great show.

Needing nothing more than light equipment, shad tend to put up a struggle and will drag downward similarly to stripers.

Lightweight line between 6-8 lbs. with leaders not exceeding 10 lbs is your best bet for fluorocarbon or monofilament. Shad lures are very popular when they’re your target, with ideal size being between 1/16 or 1/8 oz.

Since shad are pretty nasty fish and often very regulated with daily captures, barbless hooks are a great option ranging from 1 to 1/0 in circles. A good mesh net also makes pulling the fish more convenient and less harmful.

Catfish

Fight Rating: 6/10

On lighter line, catfish put up a great fight with their strong, slow runs that will rip drag off your reel. If caught on too strong of line, catfish will merely spiral into the net making for a weak fight.

Catfish are some of the most fun to be had angling with basic gear, typically putting up anything from a decent struggle to a truly difficult, rod-bending fight.

Depending on species and sizing fights are of course going to vary, but they tend to be quite aggressive regardless and will hit the line hard at first.

Catfish tend to dig toward the bottom and will try to tangle your line, requiring some strong lift to wear them down. Catfish tend to be quite aggressive throughout your encounter, and will even continue to put up a fight while they’re out of the water.

Gear for catfish can vary widely depending on your target species. As a general rule, for smaller catfish 12-15 lbs. is a decent range, and for bigger cats 30 lbs. will typically cover you.

Catfish tend to strike hard which requires a slightly heavier-weighted leader than what you’d imagine. For kahle and circle hooks, a wide range is best, with channel catfish being between 5/0 and 6/0, and blue catfish even requiring hooks as large as 10/0.

Walleye

Fight Rating: 4/10

Despite their popularity as great eating fish, walleye are not great fighters. Anglers chase walleye because they taste great as dinner, not because they expect good fights from them.

With walleye, presenting your lure and getting them to bite tends to be more of a struggle than the fight itself. Fighting a walleye is, as the old saying goes, like dragging in a stick. They’re not going to hit hard and don’t really drag on the line.

During the spawning period they can become a bit aggressive, but overall aren’t going to have the energy to put up much of a fight regardless.

An 8-12 lb. leader with 10-20 lb. test braid, or 6-12 lb. fluorocarbon is good enough. Depending on bait or rigging, size 6 circles with natural bait or size 2 when trolling with a bottom bouncer or a 3-way rig works well.

Musky

Fight Rating: 6/10

Muskies are very powerful fish but that power dies off from fatigue after relatively short battles. Muskies are very strong fighters but only for bout 20 seconds then they tire fast.

With a powerful tail and predatory shape, muskies tend to fight with quite a bit of zeal. Though fights typically only last for around 1-2 minutes, they’re going to be a heck of a struggle within that time and will potentially cut your line with their sharp teeth or break your pole with hard snags. Muskies are truly some of the most fun to be had among saltwater varieties.

Using 100 lb. fluorocarbon leader with an 80 lb. braided line is an all-around great option for fighting muskies.

You’re better off with a heavy-rated pole and reel, though medium equipment can suffice and make the fights a bit more fun. 5/0 hooks typically work best, with 7/0-8/0 being good options for fishing with larger baits and rigging.

Northern Pike

Fight Rating: 6/10

Northern pike are very strong and aggressive fish capable to peeling drag and easily cutting through fishing line. Though they fatigue quickly, they are a very exciting fish to catch.

Keen to bite and strong swimmers, northern pike are another variety with a rather predatory shape and strong tail and will certainly put up an energetic and lengthy fight from the moment they catch the line.

Northern pike have a tendency of shaking their head as they’re being reeled and will occasionally even get some high jumps from the water.

Pike, though voracious and angry (and have been known to cut many an angler’s hand with their sharp teeth), typically only put up a few good strikes at the beginning and wear out over time.

The most important thing is not losing the hook as they initially thrash around, and the rest should be easy.

Depending on the reel you go with, 15-20 lb. braided line should suffice, with up to 40 lb. test line being an option with a higher max drag weight on your reel.

Since pikes put up some ferocious jabs, we recommend going with a 30-40 lb. fluorocarbon leader as well. We recommend treble hooks in 2/0 or 3/0, or circle hooks in at least 5/0 or 6/0.

Steelhead

Fight Rating: 7.5/10

Though they can be finicky biters, steelhead (especially wild steelhead) are pound for pound some of the toughest fighters out there. Steelhead are acrobatic swimmers and jumpers and will quickly turn and potentially rip your line at any moment during their struggle.

Especially as they’re running up shallow freshwater near spawn, it’s important to keep your line high as steelhead are going to run for boulders and other cover.

See also  .30-30 Winchester for Black Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Black Bear Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .30-30 Winchester a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for black bear hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .30-30 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest black bear. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the black bear, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the black bear in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .30-30 Winchester Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a black bear in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .30-30 Winchester within the ideal range of suitable calibers for black bear hunting?” our answer is: No, the .30-30 Winchester is UNDERKILL for black bear hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .30-30 Winchester Animal Species Black Bear Muzzle Energy 1890 foot-pounds Animal Weight 340 lbs Shot Distance 150 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .30-30 Winchester? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .30-30 Winchester round is approximately 1890 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male black bear? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male black bear is approximately 340 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .30-30 Winchester Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in black bear hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for black bear to be approximately 150 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .30-30 Winchester. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the black bear being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .30-30 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest black bear - and to this question, the response again is no, the .30-30 Winchester is UNDERKILL for black bear hunting. [Click Here to Shop .30-30 Winchester Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting black bear to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. 8 Comments Jon - Aug 18, 2021Why is it that everyone thinks you need a 300 super double extra magnum that fires a 1000 grain bullet @ 5500fps to kill typical medium/thin skin game like deer and black bear? Have we as humans not killed everything that walks on land for the past how many thousands of years with sharp rocks attached to sticks that traveled at half the speed of smell? ! It matters not what you hit them with as much as where you hit them with it.P.S. tell the thousands of bears (black and brown, not to mention elk, moose and deer) that have fallen to the 30-30 that it was not enough to do the job right the first time. Give me a break. Matt - Dec 03, 20213030 has killed more black bears than any of us can count. Some of us believe it is a go to round for black bears, in the north east.Contrary to “popular” (keyboard only hunters) belief, you do not need a 50bmg for black bear.Black bears are harvested with 357mag handguns.. 3030 is way more powerful. Lynn Bear - Jun 09, 2022The ol 30-30 Winchester sure will kill a black bear!! Several years ago, here in Pennsylvania, a hunter killed a 800 plus pound black bear in the Pocono mountains with a 30-30. My son killed a medium size black bear in North Carolina with his 30-30 Winchester model 94 using a 170 grain bullet. Range was 20 yards and they were hunting bear with dogs. I seen the biggest wild boar that weighed 380 pounds drop like a light being turned off using the same bullet (170 grain Hornady Flat point). There have been all kinds of big game animals fall to the 30-30 Winchester. Don’t dare underestimate it, because you would be wrong doing so. I seen it do too wonderful a job bringing home the bacon and back straps. 😃👍 Brad - Dec 20, 2022This article says it’s not optimal, and discusses the assumptions, but never says why those assumptions lead to the conclusion. What are the optimal specs it alludes to but never states? MARK SENEY - Jan 02, 20243030 kills them dead all day, got 6 hanging on my wall to prove it , shot placement is key and develop your tracking skills, they can run a long way no matter what you shoot them with, very little blood traill for most. Jim - Jan 02, 2024 Read and read on what cal. For black bear over bait. Have a 06/ and 270 however after (2) shoulder surgery I went and bought a henery 30/30 sighted in in 50 yards for my bear hunt. The 4 th pm I had a bear come in not a monster but my first 145lbs so put the 30/30 few inch behind ft shoulder and pow. It ran around circle and droped. Granted my shot was only 12 yards was useing 170 gr. Going again this fall—- hopefully see a larger bear try let smalls pass Jim - Mar 04, 2024Shot my first bear last fall. Henry 30/30 it ran around big circle and game over. It was not a 400lb but 163 lb. Waiting for shoulder mount. And there are not many packages of bear meat left in the freezer. Like all game SHOT PLACEMENT Steve Chelewski - Aug 28, 2024Thank you to all who have supported my favorite, the legendary 30/30! Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

Gear will tend to be lighter for steelhead to convince them to bite. Unless you’re using spinners, monofilament, and fluorocarbon in the 10-12 lb. range works great. Steelhead have a large mouth but will prefer hooks from size 4-14, with 14 being as small as you’ll want to go.

Trout

Fight Rating: 5/10

Trout are very enjoyable to catch but are relatively weak fighters compared to many other sportfish. Although they can take to the air and pull some drag, they fatigue quickly.

Most varieties of trout are going to be more on the finesse side than raw power. While rainbow and tiger trout can be a whole different story, trout are going to typically be pound-for-pound enjoyable, but not as powerful as say your smallmouth or carp.

Trout can certainly surprise you with how high they jump, and will usually be able to put up a relatively long run over other species.

Line weight should typically be between 2-10 lbs. with fluorocarbon being your best bet. Trout have pretty small mouths overall, making size #10 and #12 best for hooks.

Salmon

Fight Rating: 6/10

While chinooks and cohos certainly put up an intense fight and could bump this rating up higher, most varieties of salmon are pound-for-pound strong but will tend to wear out quickly.

One important thing to note is that fishing for salmon can be more subtle than other varieties, as they tend to delay setting off their runs until last second and are more prone early on to shake their heads seek cover in the bottom.

Salmon are known to wait until they’re right up at the foot of your boat before they suddenly spring into action and start thrashing. It’s important to net them early, as they tend to fight in bursts to avoid capture.

For chinooks (king salmon), 20-25 lb. line is best; with smaller varieties you’ll tend to stay within 10-15 lb. test lines.

As one important thing to note, with king salmon it’s really a whole different game and you’ll tend to want to use much stronger leads and downriggers if you’re in open waters. While a 12+ lb. chinook could easily bend a cheap hook, 1/0 tends to be a decent size for most salmon.

Carp

Fight Rating: 7/10

Carp are pound-for-pound one of the toughest fighting freshwater fish because of their powerful stocky builds and strong bursts. They are capable of sustaining lengthy fights and bending out strong hooks.

Carp are not only difficult to find on your hook but are also powerful fighters with enough force to mangle cheap gear and truly test your mettle. Some of the most fun to be had in freshwater, carp tend to turn on the line with sudden burst energy like a jet in the water.

Getting them to set on the hook requires a bit of finesse, as you’ll want them to run with the line until they stop before trying to set the hook. Tiring them out from the start is tough, but a run never lasts too long with a carp as they’re all fast muscle.

Using a monofilament/fluorocarbon mainline around 10-15 lb. test should be good for most carp, though carp size can vary significantly depending on the variety and the water body. Hooks size #4 to #8 work well, depending on the bait you’re using.

tuna under the surface
Blackfin tuna are one of the hardest fighting fish you can legally catch.

Snook

Fight Rating: 7/10

Snook are strong fighters that will last long in a struggle and typically give you a couple of decent runs every time. A thrill from the moment they land the hook, snook tend to pull hard on your reel and will catch you off guard with sudden shifts and high jumps.

Snook favor any cover they can find so mind your line when they’re running, as they’re known to finagle hooks out of their mouths against the bottom and snag lines.

25-30 lb. test monofilament/fluorocarbon leaders and a braided 10 lb. mainline work great for snook against the flats, but you should double these numbers for when they’re in cover. Circles in 4/0-2/0 work best depending on the size of your bait.

Tarpon

Fight Rating: 8/10

When you’re talking about pound-for-pound fighting, tarpon are the toughest species inshore hands down. Tarpon fight frantically when they’re on the hook, jumping, taking 180s, and dragging with intense force.

That said, every tarpon acts differently and some will seem like a breeze while others will truly knock the wind out of you. When you catch a good one, though, be prepared for a long struggle that will truly test your gear.

Regarding tarpon, it’s better to go heavier than not. 50 lb. test braided line with plenty of drag is best. 5/0 hooks are regarded as the best size to go with for tarpon, though a range from 8/0 to 5/0 is good to have.

Bonefish & Redfish

Fight Rating: 8/10

Bonefish and redfish are truly legendary fighters, and part of this comes from their propensity to move hard against your line and drive you to pull hard to oppose it. Bonefish tend to have pretty long runs, and quickly change directions and seek cover.

It’s important at the start to use some well-timed pulls to let them know you’re there and tire themselves out in a long run. One important thing to note is that bonefish tend to dive under a vessel, which can easily result in a lost pole if you’re not careful.

Gear gets very particular when it comes to bonefish. 8wt. or 9wt. floating fly line is your best bet, depending on the weight of your pole. #4-#6 hooks are best, favoring smaller sizes as bonefish tend to have quite small mouths.

Billfish

Fight Rating: 9.5/10

There’s really no arguing it, billfish (especially blue marlin) are unequivocally some of the hardest fighters pound-for-pound out there. Billfish are known to fight so hard that they’ll even kill themselves on the line using powerful jabs to try and escape being reeled.

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Fights can last hours and have been known to go on for more than a day in the case of blue marlin. A small entry like this can’t truly cover what a fight or optimal gear looks like, but billfish are known to take massive leaps and will drag a boat to try to escape. For most billfish, a fight isn’t over until they’ve fully exerted themselves and are essentially dead in the water.

Bluefish

Fight Rating: 8/10

Bluefish are serious fighters and though smaller in stature, are one of the hardest nearshore fighters. They are the “bulldogs” of nearshore angling. Bluefish are acrobatic, high jumpers that will drag lengths of line off your real with intense runs.

They’re also tenacious and put up long fights that feature several turns and runs. Bluefish have strong bites and sharp teeth and will quickly rip through live bait and run with a line.

Regarding gear, monofilament/fluorocarbon 25-30 lb. test mainline and a 40-50 lb. test leader is perfect for tackling bluefish. 9/0 and 8/0 are choice hook sizes, as bluefish have wide mouths and the larger hooks are easier to remove.

King Mackerel & Tuna

Fight Rating: 8/10

King Mackerel and tuna are voracious hunters that are quick to bite and are quite aggressive when hooked. King Mackerel are another variety that will leap hard and will certainly test your real, dragging length off over lengthy fights. With strength matching a fish twice its size, it’s important to bring sturdy equipment to overcompensate.

King Mackerel and tuna are quick and maneuverable with a torpedo body shape that makes them unpredictable in a fight, making it important to let them take longer runs and tucker out earlier through strategic pulls opposing their swim.

A 20-30 lb. monofilament mainline pairing with a 40-60 lb. test leader works well, avoiding braided line for its propensity to rip into your hull. An offset hook in sizes 6/0-8/0 are a great choice for bringing in kingfish.

Halibut

Fight Rating: 6/10

Halibut may not shake the line much, but they certainly pull with force! Tending to be hooked on the bottom, the start of the fight usually involves trying to get them to surface, and the whole fight is usually up and down from there.

Halibut don’t tend to move laterally but like most flatfish they’re going to pull in at an angle. This makes them a pretty predictable runner, and once they’re tired it’s as easy as spinning the real.

Regarding gear, there’s usually a strong variable difference depending on the body of water. Lines can vary as much as 50-130 lb. test for the mainline, typically with a 75-80 lb. braid being best. 8/0-10/0 hooks are good to have in bulk, with monofilament leaders being a typical pairing.

Mahi Mahi

Fight Rating: 9/10

Mahi mahi, also referred to as dolphin, are one of the best fighting fish you can catch. Second only to the powerful billfish of the open ocean, almost no fish can compete with mahi mahi for pure fighting ability.

You know you’re in for a good fight when you’ve hooked a mahi-mahi. “Mahi” itself means “strong” in Hawaiian, and this fish certainly lives up to its name. Mahi-mahi will rip a ton of line from the real and tend to display quite a bit of acrobatics leaping out of the water.

The fight is comparatively short to other fish, however, and sometimes, when it’s done they’re basically dead in the water.

Mahi have a tendency to move sideways in the water which makes it particularly difficult to apply opposing pressure, and you typically have to let them run before doing your final pulls.

30-50 lb. test braided line is great for a main, with plenty of extra yardage. Light tackle setups with bucktail jigs tend to be ideal, with live bait on 6/0-9/0 circles being common practice as well.

Grouper

Fight Rating: 8/10

A difficult fish to land in a pinch, grouper fight with plenty of endurance and will test your own stamina. Having a tendency to immediately seek cover after getting hooked, it’s important to lift your line to keep grouper tight on the surface, as they’ll quickly work their way out of your hook or break your line if you’re not careful. Grouper are also known to bend a cheap rod, which makes the right gear particularly important.

It’s recommended to have a 70 lb. test braided line as your main, with 65 lb. being the absolute minimum. A braided line is ideal as you’ll need something rigid to keep grouper from dragging into cover. 8/0 or 9/0 circles work great, depending on the size of your bait.

Do Seasonal Conditions Impact How Hard Fish Fight?

One important thing to note is how the season and ambient conditions (weather, temperature, turbidity, etc.) affect how hard a fish will fight. Typically, good fighting conditions are in the warmer spectrum of a fish’s feeding temperature range, with rainy weather and turbid waters offering more action.

Unusually cold or blistering hot water given the season can drive a fish to shelter and give them a higher propensity for seeking cover and sheltering on the bottom, which requires more rigid lines to combat them.

Metabolic changes throughout the season are important to note, as most fish are going to be less active in the winter, making them less likely to take bait and more limp against the pole.

Long Fights vs. Short Fights: Which is Better?

While long fights are a heck of a lot more fun than quick, easy grabs, one important thing to consider is the effect this might have on the fish.

Fish expend a huge amount of energy in short bursts when they’re on the line, and this stress not only can make a fish less likely to survive if thrown back, but also taste worse as stress alters fatty acid production. This is why it’s important to quickly kill a fish and have them filleted and on ice fast, especially if you’ve had a long tussle.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>