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New IGFA rule changes are in effect

By Staff | May 25, 2017

With tournament season approaching, here are the new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) rule changes that became effective on April 1, 2017.

Assisting the Angler, Disqualifying Acts – Currently, IGFA International Angling Rules state that “the act of a person other than the angler touching the rod, reel, or line either bodily or with a device once the fish strikes or takes the bait” constitutes a disqualification.

However, nowhere in the IGFA’s rules do they discuss the legality of another person touching or making contact with the angler. The IGFA is frequently questioned on the legality of touching the anglers while they are fighting a fish.

In order to clarify this important subject, the IGFA has added the following language to Section 3 of Disqualifying Acts: “Holding or touching an angler in a manner that assists them in fighting the fish or takes pressure off the angler. Touching or briefly holding the angler to prevent them from falling does not constitute a disqualification.”

Backing & Top-Shot – Previously, IGFA’s International Angling Rules stated: “If the fishing line is attached to backing, the catch shall be classified under the heavier of the lines.”

This rule has long been contested in cases where the main line or top shot is lighter than the underlying backing, as logic dictates that the lighter line will break before the heavier backing.

The IGFA has made the following alterations to Equipment Regulation A:

Title change from “LINE” to “LINE AND BACKING.”

Adding a new subsection that reads: “The use of backing is permissible.”

Adding a new subsection that reads: “The catch shall be classified under the breaking strength of the first five meters (16.5-feet) of line directly preceding the double line, leader or hook. This section must be comprised of a single, homogenous piece of line.”

To clarify, this new rule ONLY concerns those anglers fishing with multiple lines on their reels (i.e. backing and top shot). If a single line is used throughout the reel, NOTHING changes, because in these situations, the IGFA has always tested the first several feet of line closest to the double line, leader or hook to determine the appropriate category in which to classify a catch.

All this new rule changes is that if multiple lines are used on the reel, only the line closest to the double line, leader or hook will be tested, rather than requiring and testing a sample of each different line on the spool.

That said, the IGFA still requires anglers to submit the first 16 meters (50 feet) of line used in the capture, no matter what it is, as per normal. Of this 16-meter section, at least the first five meters (16.5 feet) is to be the homogenous line class line, which will be tested to determine the category in which the catch shall be placed. The length of five meters (16.5 feet) was added to ensure the IGFA had enough line to perform the necessary tests.

The full 16 meters (50 feet) is still requested for two main reasons: 1) The line closest to the terminal tackle is chaffed, scraped or damaged; and 2) To have a line sample on file with the record for historical purposes.