Using the Rail--Discussion Thread:

Discussion in 'Jigging and Popping' started by Uncle Russ, May 2, 2008.

  1. Uncle Russ

    Uncle Russ Senior Member

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    The purpose of this thread was suggested by fishhead56—to present a thorough and constructive discussion of “using the rail” as a technique for fighting fish. I volunteered to start the discussion, not because I know anything about it or have extensive experience with it, but rather because I have collected information from various internet sources over the last couple of years. The following is a summary, together with some photos, including the one that fishhead56 already provided. If folks feel like weighing in--great--if not, you won't hurt my poor old feelings. :)

    Reasonable people can differ, so let’s keep any discussion positive in all respects. Such words as “ridiculous”, “idiot”, “stupid”, and any curse words should be directed only toward Uncle Russ, who thought his first name was “Damnit, Boy” until he was 25 years old.

    Why use the rail? The general consensus seems to be that you can defeat a fish using heavy drag much more quickly using this method than you can using commonly accepted standup techniques using a harness.

    What is Using the Rail? Generally, you place the portion of the rod handle on the rail of the boat, using the rail as a fulcrum. You then push down, using any one of several methods, on the rear portion of the rod, thus raising the rod tip, and gain line—presumably in low gear—while reeling down and lowering the tip. You can also simply lay the rod on the rail and crank in low gear. As in harness fishing, you use your body weight to exert leverage on the fish, but you do it using the rail as the fulcrum of a lever.

    When do you use the rail? The consensus seems to be that the technique is of little or no value when the fish is running out and away from the boat or parallel to the gunnels. Rather, it is useful when attempting to lift the fish when it has gone straight down (as it inevitably will.) On the other hand at least one of the folks quoted below, uses the rail, with the butt of the rod down against the deck, to get the tuna to go deep in the first place, so the technique will work even better pumping it up.

    Methods: Some people advocate putting the butt of the rod under their right arm, steadying the reel (to prevent torquing???) with their left hand, and cranking with their right hand while pumping the rod with their weight applied from under the right arm. Others tuck the rod butt under their left arm. Still others have said they sit on the rod butt as with a seesaw and finally, others (see one of the pictures below) tuck the rod butt in their crotch. Ouch!

    Rod Design: Most think that a longer rod is needed in order to get the line out from the rail when the tuna is straight down. Also, it is useful to have a longer butt to fit under your arm (or, I guess, to sit on) and a longer fore grip for positioning on the fulcrum/rail.

    Special Considerations: If you want to set an IGFA record, using the rail will disqualify you. You can find a lot of angry discussions on the internet (probably from people who need to get a life and have more sex) concerning whether it is more sporting to use the rail or to back down on fish. Hopefully, this thread will not provoke any of that. I figure it is what it is, and fishing is fishing. If some old boy thinks he is closer to God using any given method, then more power to him—just don’t ask me to take it seriously.

    General Discussion:

    The most interesting discussions I have found on the subject are provided in the two links below which provides a lively exchange with varying opinion, and from which I have excerpted some posts:

    UsingTheRailPart1

    976-TUNA: Forums / Tuna-long range fishing / Using "The Rail" to your advantage!

    Here are some extra helpful excerpts:

    Wahoodad: On how to get the fish into an up-and-down position quickly then winch it up: “I hook the fish, and I crouch down, kneeling and I put the rod in one of those notches on the rail, butt almost to the deck. This is the tough part, and I don't blame you one bit if you choose to use a harness for this part of the fight…but I just hate clanging around with all that garbage on me. My knees get really tired in this crouch, but the good thing is, the amount of pressure put on the fish makes it go straight up and down pretty quick. One thing to watch out for is the rod. Try to make sure that the rod only rests on the rail at one point, preferably at the hypalon. If it hits on the inside of the rail at the hypalon, and also rests on the glass on the outside of the rail, you could have an ugly problem. Try to avoid this at all costs…Ok, you've made good progress, and now you are at deep color. I switch to under arm now to keep the line away from the hull, and to cut those circles off. I prefer the rod under my right arm, as I feel it's a straight grind, not reaching across my body. Do what feels best for you, so try both ways. I fish 6 and 6 1/2 foot rods for a few reasons. It keeps the line further away from the hull, and it has more tip so it takes the shock out since I have such short topshots…When the fish is in it's circle way to my right, I bring the rod tip way left. And visaversa. When it's under the boat, I put the rod tip out as much as I dare, and when it's out from the boat, wind as much as you can. At the very end, sometimes you can finish with the rail, but more often than not, you have to plant the rod in your gut, lean back, wind in the proper parts of the circle(ask crew), and bring the fish up to gaff.”

    Some folks wear knee pads and kneel down to gain leverage—you can also use them with a harness to brace against the gunnels of the boat.

    A different post, quoting Stas Velonicas, a well-known rail fisherman: It seems that there are two different methods of using the rail. One, as described in the previous discussion, is to put the rod under your armpit (probably your left armpit if you crank right handed and vice versa if you are left handed but it depends on what you are comfortable with). Under the armpit, you are more mobile but you have to squat a bit more, especially if you are tall. The other method is to sit on the butt section of the rod. This method allows you to stand a bit more upright…This allows you to stand a bit more upright than you would using your armpit and gives you a little more mobility than sitting on the rod (plus, the family jewels won't get into harms way if you hurry too much trying to sit on the rod). It comes down to what you are comfortable with. The trick is to minimize your exertion. Either method makes you a lot more mobile than using a harness and belt.

    And another one: I believe Stasi Velonikis ("The Mad Greek") was the first guy to use the rail as a primary technique for catching tuna. His rods were made with a 2 foot extension to the butt section, and he put the butt on the deck, sat on the rod with the forearm on the rail, and used leverage to move the fish. He would sit down, and as the rod straitened, raise up, and crank. Simple but very effective technique to kill a tuna, with minimal effort on the angler. I use a different style, I put the rod on the rail, under my left arm, squat down on my knees to move the fish, and when the rod tip comes up, raise up and crank. You can put the rod under either arm, if you need to, if you're in a crowd. Other people have different styles, and can offer their technique, or tips on using the rail. You need a rod designed to fish the rail, but there are lots of those. I have an 8 1/2 foot rail rod, an 850H, but they can be 5 1/2 feet to 10 feet, and it works pretty much the same. Anybody who is longrange fishing, needs to develop their own "Rail Technique", to kill tuna quickly and with minimum effort. Rex, you know I am a firm believer in using the rail. Every time the boat rocks it pulls the fish up and when it rocks back the other way you get your cranks. I use both techniques actually; when near the stern where the rail is lower I sit on the back of the rod and use my body weight to lift and then stand to get a wind. Up near the bow I put the rod under my left armpit with the fore grip of the rod placed on the rail. I'm only 5' 7" so this style of fishing suits me perfectly. In fact, I don't remember the last time I had to use my OTR harness…However, the rail technique is most effective when the fish is straight up and down and that usually doesn't happen right away. I have had big yellowfin stay up high and circle the boat for long periods of time. Because of the angle of the line it is difficult to get the same amount of "lift". Without the harness you are forced to use your back and arms until the fish tires and starts to circle deep and this part of the battle can be physically taxing on the body.

    I've considered using the harness during the first phase then switching to the rail to kill the fish near the end but I find the drop plates and harness to be cumbersome while fishing. In the end I would just suck it up and hang on until I could use the rail effectively.

    Finally, Kil (KSONG) is known for using the rail as well, even toting his own “Porta Rail” along for boats where the rail is too low. I have posted some pictures (with his permission) below—including one where the rod broke. However, I think I remember hearing that that was the blank—not Kil or the rail itself! :D

    (I am having trouble getting the photos to post--I will send them to T.J.)


    Photographs:
     
  2. jaredchasteen

    jaredchasteen Senior Member

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    Russ,

    YOU HAVE TO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS.
     

  3. gman

    gman Senior Member

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    holy crap man, you have outdone yourself.
     
  4. Minnow

    Minnow Administrator

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    Railing pictures
     

    Attached Files:

  5. tbuckshot

    tbuckshot Guest

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    I like the rail even with lighter tackle, but only when ya get the fish in that stubborn spiral mode. It really works well.
     
  6. gman

    gman Senior Member

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    OK I will start this one off ...

    I honestly don't understand why you would want to use the rail unless its for a medical reason (bad back, shoulder etc).

    People are using 2 speed reels, great rods why do you need a rail to land your fish?? To me its using the boat to aid in landing the fish. In addition you ruining your rod, you become pretty stationary and fight from a pinned position. Some will say you get the fish in quicker but what's the fun in winching in a fish in 5 minutes

    Were not talking about 300# yellowfins on a long range boat, were speaking about schoolie sized 100# tuna.
     
  7. rhale

    rhale Senior Member

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    OK I will start this one off ...

    I honestly don't understand why you would want to use the rail unless its for a medical reason (bad back, shoulder etc).

    People are using 2 speed reels, great rods why do you need a rail to land your fish?? To me its using the boat to aid in landing the fish. In addition you ruining your rod, you become pretty stationary and fight from a pinned position. Some will say you get the fish in quicker but what's the fun in winching in a fish in 5 minutes

    Were not talking about 300# yellowfins on a long range boat, were speaking about schoolie sized 100# tuna.


    I am with you gman, I have never used the rail and dont see a need to.
     
  8. Uncle Russ

    Uncle Russ Senior Member

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    Well, gman and rhale:, I don't know how old you are, but I'm assuming you haven't hit 50 yet. I always hope I'm still around when all you whippersnappers who think you are immortal and omnipotent start getting referred to your hearing doctors, your hernia surgeons, and getting mail from Medicare Supplemental Insurance companies :) I won't tell you how old I am, but let's just say if I had had a way to go overseas when I was a baby, I could have thrown my pablum bowl at Hitler and Mussolini. And it's like Indiana Jones said to his girlfriend after he got dragged under the truck and she commented that he wasn't the man he used to be. Indiana said: "It's the mileage, sweetheart--the mileage."

    So yes to the bad back, yes to the hernia surgeries, yes to the injured shoulder, yes to arthritic joints, yes to benching about half of what I did when I was 35, and yes to having beat the crap out of two bouncers in one night when there ended up there were three of them--that sort of thing will send you looking for alternative solutions in a hurry.

    Russ
     
  9. Gunsmoke

    Gunsmoke Guest

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    I am with you gman, I have never used the rail and dont see a need to.

    The only reason to use the rail is to use it as a device to tie yourself off or a friend that has had to much to drink.:) It's main purpose is keep people from falling overboard. :D For fishing it is a just long cheater bar for those who do not see the sport in fishing.

    If your over 50 and have health issues, then it's OK as long as you don't hand the fish to someone else. Bring the fish in by yourself or let it win the battle to swim free.

    Russ, it appears you are qualified to use the rail and you have done your homework on the subject.
     
  10. Uncle Russ

    Uncle Russ Senior Member

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    If I were the man I was at 50, I would be pulling those SOB s in like Black Crappie. It's 60 that does the damage.

    Russ
     
  11. ksong

    ksong SPONSOR

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    As you see my post about jigging/popping rods, I like to experiment a lot with different things. Railing is one of them. In fact, I developed porta-rail to jig more than to fight tuna. Tuna jigging requires long hours, oftenly over 10 hours non-stop. It is not easy to jig non-stop over 10 hours even for a strong guy. :) Nowadays I don't use the rail to fight any tuna under 200 lbs as I am experimenting to fight a big tuna without harness or any other help by using my body and moving forward and backward. The technique is so effective anyone can land a big tuna with the technique without much problem.
     
  12. Gunsmoke

    Gunsmoke Guest

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    The last time I fished with my father before he passed away, he was in his low 70's. He was a stubborn old guy fixed in his ways. He liked the long trolling rods with a shoulder harness. I kept telling him it was bad for his back. It's hard to teach an old mule new methods.:)

    For nostalgia purposes, I took out one of his fishing cronies a couple of years ago. He was 84 and I had one the funnest trips in my life listening to his stories about him and my dad. Turns out the apple didn't fall far from the tree.:eek:

    He bragged about this and that while sipping a cold beer. When the outrigger popped, I handed him the rod. After ten minutes, he turned to me and said,
    "I was bullshitting you a little bit about my catches and health". He give me the rod and said "I'll just go sit down and drink a cold one and give you some tips".

    I'm not one who likes to receive orders. This day I did without reservations. It was a pleasure to release "His" marlin that day. I saw him last week, and he was telling some woman about half his age how he battled a huge marlin last year. I just smiled and confirmed that he was a man among men. He reached in his pocket and showed me a bottle of Viagra. I guess he put his rod to use that night. If he didn't, he will confirm to me that he went multiple times.:D
     
  13. Uncle Russ

    Uncle Russ Senior Member

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    I guess you all heard about the old guy in his 90 s whose doctor prescribed four Viagra pills each time he wanted to get it going. Next time he talked to the Doc, he revealed that he had only been taking one each time. The doctor lectured him that one wouldn't be nearly enough. "Hell," the old codger replied, "I just want to get that sucker high enough so that when I get up at night, I don't piss on my feet."
     
  14. gman

    gman Senior Member

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    from using the "rail" to Viagra ... boy Russ this thread started with so much promise ha ha ha ha ha ha
     
  15. MrBill

    MrBill Senior Member

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    I'm not sure if I should talk about the rail, the time I stole a little blue pill, or the comment about the apple not falling far from the tree.:)
     
  16. peterk814

    peterk814 Senior Member

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    I like the rail to whip fish in fast to I can take advantage of a hot bite that as wel all know can dissapate fast. Using the rail is no different than the guys who are using a harness and butt belt to aid themselves, it is not any less sporting that that. Same with two speed reels, the rail, harnesses, two speeds are all things to take advantage of fish.
     
  17. d-a

    d-a Senior Member

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    I'm not sure if I should talk about the rail, the time I stole a little blue pill, or the comment about the apple not falling far from the tree.:)


    Why not talk about all three? I am sure some one will get some good info out of it.

    Younger guys about the rail, olderguys about the blue wonder pill and GS about eating the apples under the tree.:)

    d-a
     
  18. crazyjigr

    crazyjigr Senior Member

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    If you need it use it if you dont dont there's no wrong or right.
     
  19. DeepBlueGulf

    DeepBlueGulf Senior Member

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    On drifting party boats, where you have another 30 anglers wanting to catch fish, it's always a good idea to get your fish in quicker. And the longer your fish is in the water, the more likely you will have someone come by with another fish to tangle yours, and maybe burn you off before you get untangled. Unless it's a 100lb + fish, there is no need to use the rail at all unless you are already tired from fishing all night.

    I do use the rail, but I don't use the rod as a lever or put much pressure on the rod, I pretty much just put the reel in low gear and winch the fish in. I do use the rhythm of the boat rising and falling to help as well.

    Tom - DBG
     
  20. hatidua

    hatidua Senior Member

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    I only fish on private boats where rails are generally nonexistent so I've never had occasion to use one. Additionally, I have enough of a tackle addiction problem as it is so I won't be buying any porta-rails in the near future.

    HOWEVER....I don't care if a person uses the rail, uses an electric reel, wants to wear a harness, catches their swordfish with buoy's and handlines, or feels the need to have a three-speed reel. If a person enjoys their method of fishing, great, I'm thrilled for them.

    Far be it from me to criticize someone else's method of recreation. Wanna use the rail? GO FOR IT!
     
  21. Uncle Russ

    Uncle Russ Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'm not an intolerant person until it comes to folks who try to make up rules for other folks--Gunsmoke's rules are acceptable because they strike me as the same sort of rules John Wayne or Charlton Heston would approve of. But dudes who sip lattes and tell me that I am the scum of the earth and don't deserve to live, unless I cast a barbless, size 28 dry fly upstream to a native, wild trout that you have spotted in a sipping rise to a known hatch, it makes me want to use rotenone on their local waters.

    Russ