Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundking
... If you get a bite and don't loose the fish inside the first phases of the fight, that fish is pinned. Just get the fish tight to the drag and the hook will burry itself. ... Trying to set a hook home after a tuna bite will only lead to a bigger lip hole or a break off. ... Also, starting with a heavy drag is asking for problems. I only fish spin gear ... I have found that a lighter initial drag will lead to a longer first run. When the tunas lock into a burst, they close their mouths, tuck in their fins, seal their gills and hit the high gear. Think of it as running a windsprint with your mouth shut. Obviously, this will tire the fish. When the fight begins, I try to encourage a long run as much as possible. The longer the runs, the more likely the fish will stay pinned in the spiral. Once you get that line angle deep, it is necessary to apply as much pressure as possible to keep the fish in the spiral. In my experience, this is only achieved through maximum pressure. If you have the fish spiraled and it becomes erratic, drop the drag and encourage another long run. You can always persue the fish to mitigate a horizontal run. Once you get a steady tailbeat, utilize the entire blank, specifically the last 6 inches of the rod to apply a lifting pressure to the fish. I have learned that it is mandatory to never pump a light blank. Simply max out the blank by keeping the rod parallel with the horizon, apply additional pressure with the hand or the thumb and keep the head of the fish pointed upwards. Gain when the spiral approaches the boat, refuse to break pressure or give drag when the fish is spiraling away from the boat. The name of the game is resting initially, then applying maximum heat and fully exhausting yourself in the end game. Think about the way these fish swim. Don't listen to me or anyone else if this differs from the fight the tuna is dictating to you. Like anything else in life, you only become good at something by pushing yourself and analyzing the variables. I feel that 'feel' is the most integral variable in fighting tuna. Try to tailor your fight to the persona of the fish. Remain adaptable and feel the tailbeats of the tuna. Remember that a burst is straining for the fish and relatively relaxing for you. When the tailbeats are steady, do not give them an inch. When the tailbeats change, allow the fish to run. If this method is used effectively, it will keep the fight time on a fish under or around 60" under 20 minutes.
I am passionate about this fighting style ...

Sorry I made this so long, but I'd like to add some numbers ("analyze the variables") to Soundking's methods.
First though, let me note that there's been other discussion in recent posts of how to apply the most "heat" to the fish and land them quickly, without risking a pulled hook. Some think high initial drag is good (anwhere from 20#  35#) to get them to the boat fast and others favor low starting drag. Many believe that next year's fish will be bigger, making me wonder if my equipment (Penn 950 SSM and SWS70MHF) will be big enough. Lastly, I don't want anything below to be interpreted as me saying that your approach isn't as goodsome of the analysis below is directly applicable to all rods and reels and some is specific to my gear.
"Heat" is a good word to use when thinking of stopping these fish since it is a term that is a measure of how much WORK the fish can do before it has to stop and "catch its breath". Since this posting is long, here are the main points.
Reel
Drag Increases Significantly When a Fish Takes Line: As noted by many others, the 950 SSM has a top drag of about 18 pounds with a full spool. I measured a maximum drag torqueresistance of about 25 inchpounds when the capscrew spring is fully compressed. That means that the 950SSM drag force goes up 2.2 times (e.g. 18# to 39.5#) from a full spool to an empty spool. (Other reels will be different based on the ratio of full to empty diameter.) When 200 yards of 50# line has been taken, the drag rises from 18# to about 2425#. (I went to a large triple soccer field to confirm this.) (Also, see Twinspin note from the last page of the Accurate Twinspin Manual, below)
Drag Increases Faster with Heavier Line: A secondary factor: with 100# braid on the 950 the drag increases from 18# to 30# on a 200 yard run. That's because the diameter of the spool gets smaller more quickly as thicker line is taken. (But also there's only 100 yards left on the spool and the spool will heat more. Is 100 yards enough of a cushion with drag greater than 30#?)
Drag Washers Convert a Fish's Work to Drag Heat: Two things take most of the "heat" from the fish: the drag when the fish is pulling against it and the work done on the fish lifting it up from below the boat. (No matter how much you move it, the rod is a spring, doing very little WORK on the fish.) From some numbers I've run, the fish does about 90% of the WORK to tire itself out (assuming 3 runs of 200 yards) and the fisherman does the other 10% pulling it up from 150' below the boat, with say, 25# of drag. (If you can just hold the pressure while the fish is circling below the boat, reeling as the fish circles back to the boat, you can get the fish to do a lot of this work too.)
Spool Must Shed Heat from Tuna's Work: The spool of the reel has to shed the all the heat which comes from WORK done by the fish, or else its temperature rises and the "brakes" fade. (The 950 SSM has a label over the skirt, reducing its ability to shed heat. I plan to remove the label.) With a spinning reel, the highest drag setting is one factor, another is how quickly the spool can shed heat that gets built up. (How about ice held against the skirt of the spool during the first couple runs?) Reel makers should give this data.
Rod
Rod Hand Load Can be Much Higher than Drag Setting: If reel drag is set to 18# and the rod is pointed straight out, the fisherman holds back 18#. If the rod is lifted so the butt is at a right angle to the line (St. Croix SWS70MHF), your top hand holds back 48# pounds initially. If the rod is brought back to that same right angle on a 300 yard run (50# braid) the rod hand force goes to 77 pounds. So if the tip is only lifted just a little on a run, it is a lot less tiring than pulling back, but it still does the same amount of WORK on the fish.
With the Right Line Test, You Can Safely Palm Reel Below Boat: When the fish is circling below the boat, if you lock the spool with one hand and pull with 65 pounds of force with the other (the rod butt at a right angle to the line, horizontal to the water), the tension on the line is about 24 pounds. If you could pull 80 pounds with the rod hand (and I can't), the tension in the line is still only 30 pounds. (SWS70MHF).
Emergency Stopping Power: Considering the above rod mechanics, if I lean back during a run to the point where the rod butt is at a right angle to the line, as long as I keep the rod butt at a right angle to the line, I can palm the reel without fear of breaking the line and create an effective drag of 30#, my top hand load will be about 80#, something I can hold for half a minute or so. I believe 60# test with the right knot system will allow a good safety margin. (Note: If the rod tip is dropped while holding the spool, the force in the line can rise rapidly above 30#, eventually to 80# or more.)
Conclusion:
If I increase my braid/leader from 50/50 to 60/60 or maybe 80/80, applying the techniques described above by Soundking, I could continue to use my Penn/St. Croix gear. I have two remaining areas of concern: how much heat can the Penn drag shed through the spool (should I drill some holes in the spool skirt after I take the labels off?) and what load can the SWS70MHF hold without breaking, with the rod held horizontally. Any information would be appreciated.
Additional Details
Reel Mechanics
I got to thinking about the drag characteristics of my Penn 950 ssm and built an Excel spreadsheet for some numbers that I measured on it and my SWS70MHF rod. Also, I wanted to figure out how much "heat" my reel has to extract from the WORK it makes a fish do taking line. The best analogy I can think of is a car's disk brakeshow much of the car's speed can the brakes convert to heat, without overheating and then "fading". Although my data and comments will be specific to my equipment, the approach I'm taking applies to almost all types of gear and if anyone wants, I can run your numbers. (A printout of my data for 18# drag, 50# braid is attached as an example, PDF format.)
The consensus of those experienced with the 950 is that its maximum drag is in the 18# region. So being a skeptic, I decided to see what that was like with my rod and reel so I opened a second story door and lowered an 18 pound bucket to the ground; then cranked up the drag till I could just lift it (rod is St. Croix SWS70MHF). On my reels I had to crank the knob to fully compress the spring to get 18#. So I accept that 18# is about the top, I don't know if that will hold with wear on the drag washers and I think other's suggestions to clean are replace them often is a good suggestion.
The first measurements on my SWS70MHF rod gave me leverage data. With 18# of weight hanging, my hand is about 37% of the distance from the butt of the rod to the point where the line is hanging down, with the rod held horizontal (Hand 22" from butt, line 59" from butt). The mechanical "disadvantage" of the rod is about 2.7:1. Meaning if the rod's butt is roughly at a rightangle to the line, with 15# of reel drag, the weight at one's hand is about 37.5 pounds. If the drag goes to 30#, then the force at the top hand is 80 pounds. As the rod tip is lowered, the load on your hand drops, eventually to equal the drag.
Since reel spools rotate, the drag force that the reel produces is torque measured in inchpounds or footpounds, like a torque wrench. My point is that since the drag washers exert a constant resistance to torque once they're set (forgetting the effect of heating the drag for a minute), the tension (when you measure it in pounds) on the line will go up as line is taken off the spool. When full, the diameter of my spool is about 2 3/4" and empty, about 1 1/4".
If the drag is set with a scale pulling on the line to 18 pounds (full spool), that translates to 24.75 inch/pounds of drag torque resistance (18#*1.375"). Going in reverse, if you got to the bottom of the spool, the force on the line would be 39.6 pounds (24.75 in# / 0.625"). Another point is halfway into the spool and the drag force would now be about 30 pounds. So just a guess on my part, several fish have stopped their initial runs on my reel when they'd taken enough line so that the tension on the line was at the 22# point.
Since 80# line is thicker than 50# line, the overall diameter of the spool gets smaller faster as the fish runs. So the final drag for a 50# braid 300 yard run is 21# and for 80# braid it's almost 25#. The work done pulling 50# braid off is 11,000 poundfeet and the work done pulling off 80# braid is about 12,000 poundfeet. So loaded with the stronger line, the reel does more work, produces more drag but gives less total line to work with (estimate 500 yards of 50# vs 375 yards of 80# line).
The work produced by three runs of 200 yards with 15# of drag is about 33,000 poundfeet, which is 750 wattminutes (ten 75 watt bulbs turned on for a minute). Pulling a fish up 150 feet against 24# drag is another 3,750 poundfeet. So unless your gear is so strong that you can just winch in a "green" fish, the fish has to do 90% of the work to tire itself out.
As I mentioned earlier, when the fish is circling below the boat, not much WORK is being done to the fish unless you're pulling it up. Work is equal to force times distanceand the force and the distance have to be in the same direction. So when it's circling, the drag force is mostly in the vertical direction but it's motion is in a horizontal circle, leading to little work being doneeven though that situation is very tiring for the fisherman.
Rod mechanics
With my rod held level and 18# hung from it, the distance from the butt of my rod to the hand position is 22" and from the butt to the line hanging straight down (measured as a distance out horizontally). This gives a leverage inefficiency of 37%. So in that position, holding 18# requires a force by the fisherman of about 48 pounds (18 pounds/0.37). Note though that the drag pressure on the fish does not go up.
Now let's say the fish is below the boat and you're bringing it up. You start with the rod horizontal, palming the reel to apply maximum pressure and say you're pulling with 65 pounds of force and generating 24 pounds of force on the fish. If the rod tip drops and you keep pulling with the same effort, the tension in the line builds up, eventually reaching your pulling force of 65 pounds. Obviously that could break the line, so the spool better be released.
Other comments/questions
1. Even if a low drag setting is used and the fish takes a lot of line, the actual tension on the line could get quite high as you approach the bottom of the spool (12# initial drag will increase to 21# after 300 yards line is taken). Lines, leaders and knots should be capable of withstanding that higher drag number.
2. I haven't made any heat to drag fade measurements. I would appreciate any data anyone has.
3. As line is being taken against the drag, if the line roller is at the top (or bottom) of the spool, the drag is about 10% higher as line is pulled from the bottom (or top).
Twinspin Manual Language (My Underlining)
Thanks to the TWINSPIN exclusive Twin Drag technology, the drag tension you set will vary no more than one pound when line is pulled off the reel at any speed!
Unfortunately, there is another factor which causes drag variance that needs to be accounted for. This factor is based on how full the reel is with line. When the spool is filled, the line is being pulled off a high point on the spool. As the amount of line on the spool reduces, the line is pulled from a lower area on the spool. There is less leverage used when the line is pulled at a lower level, which means the line needs more force to move the spool against the drag. The drag setting has not been decreased, but the line will encounter increased tension. (The drag pressure will approximately double when 25% of the line has been removed from a full spool.)
My Note: I don't think that the pressure will double for the first 25% removed. More likely that it will have doubled when 25% remains. If anyone can send me the diameter of a full spool and the diameter of an empty spool, I can calculate it.