The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recently announced that it is adopting new language to the organization’s rules pertaining to the use of power-driven reels, most commonly referred to as “electric reels.” These reels have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially within the recreational swordfish fishery.
Under Section E. of the IGFA International Angling Rules regarding reels, the previous rule stated that “Power- driven reels of any kind are prohibited. This includes motor, hydraulic, or electrically driven reels, and any device that gives the angler an unfair advantage in fighting the fish.” Effectively immediately, IGFA new rule states that power-driven reels are acceptable under the following situation and configuration:
- A) Reels that have power accessories (e.g., electric drill attachments, motors or other power accessories specifically designed for a reel) that can be physically removed from the reel may be used strictly for the purpose of retrieving a deployed bait or lure at depth all the way to the boat.
- B) Power accessories may only be used to retrieve a bait or lure completely to the boat and are not permitted for adjusting the position of a bait or lure in the water column. Once a power accessory is attached to the reel, the bait or lure may no longer be legally used to catch a fish and the bait or lure must be retrieved all the way to the boat for manual redeployment before it may be legally used to hook or catch a fish. Power accessories may not be attached to the reel during the deployment of a bait or lure.
- C) Power accessories must be physically removed from the reel before the act of or hooking or fighting a fish. Any fish that strikes a bait or lure being fished with a reel with power accessories still attached- whether or not under electric operation- will not be eligible for record consideration.
- D) Electric reels that do not have removable electronic components that allow them to be completely manually driven are prohibited.
The new language listed above was unanimously approved by the IGFA Board of Trustees during their annual meeting in February. Prior to voting on the new language, the IGFA queried leading angling authorities around the world to gather perspectives on this topic.
“Changes to the IGFA’s International Angling Rules are always something we handle with the utmost care,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser. “This rule in particular has been a point of contention for years, and we are pleased to announce this new language that we strongly feel adapts IGFA rules to the technology of our time, while not jeopardizing the core principles of IGFA ethics.”
For more information anglers can contact IGFA Angler Recognition Coordinator Zack Bellapigna at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-924-4247.