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I was originally going to make this a reply to another thread where they were discussing how hard do spotted bass fight but then I though it would make for an interesting thread itself.

So, how much of a fish's fighting ability is based on reputation versus the actual fight, or individual fish? What widely accepted generalities of fighting ability are true?

Personally I believe the following are true:
-Smallies > Spots > Largemouth, but the spread isn't as great as you would be led to believe. I've caught smallies that were decidedly meh and largemouth that tried to pull me overboard. The one exception is a big river smallie (20+ inches). I've never caught one that didn't take me for a ride.

-River fish > lake fish, but often lake fish come from much deeper water. Does a big lake fish that had lots more room to fight leave a better impression than the same size river fish?

-Within any fish location/population of bass there is a certain portion that pull like they're possessed. How many times have you hooked a fish and thought it was a giant and then come to find it wasn't that big after all? My most memorable was a smallie that pulled so hard that my wrist was sore and my spinning reel almost jammed up. I thought it was 6 lbs, it turned out to be 17".

So what say you?
 

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I remember my first spot at Norman was about a 10" fish on a spinnerbait, thought it was a 3 lb largemouth by the pull. I have found that fish in certain lakes seem to overall pull harder pound for pound.
 

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Im gonna have to base my short list off a visceral feeling of which fight is the most "fun" rather than the top in any specific category.

For Freshwater
American shad (nothin comes close) > > Striped bass > Bowfin > Hickory Shad > Catfish > Carp > Black Bass*

*I haven't caught a smallie so Ill leave that one out of the black bass category. Catching one in a fast flowing river would probably be pretty awesome
 

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IMO the best pound for pound fighter, is an over the slot red drum. They pull like they're possessed.

I agree with FC, a shad is a great fighter especially when it hits that current. Striped bass are studs too.
 

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I guess this thread could get quite diverse...I would be hard pressed to say that any bass that I have caught pulled as hard as the 35 pound amberjack I caught a while back and took 30 minutes to land...but my equipment was heavy enough for that battle. When bass fishing, the tackle is matched to the species...so I guess when thinking about this, it has to be something that is tackle specific too. I would think, then, that any fish, caught with the right tackle, would give a super fight and be a blast to catch! But then...some say I think about these things too much...:p
 

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If we are talking Micropterus species, I vote smallmouth. Have caught several river smallies approaching four pounds and they all were rough, acrobatic fighters.
Largemouth are great fighters, but pound for pound, edge to smallmouth. As for spots, I am hardly an expert, caught only three in my life, and was not overly impressed, fought not one bit better than the similar sized largemouth I caught that day. Maybe they get better as they grow.
 

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Never caught a spot so out of large and smallmouth I'd say smallie pound for pound, but as far as average fish or "amount of fight per five fish caught" largemouth win because they are generally larger.

As far as any freshwater fish, pound for pound or otherwise, Bowfin by far. They jump, pull, run and do just about everything else. Solid muscle and teeth. You can't beat it.

I do agree that river fish fight harder, but FishinCary surprised me by listing catfish. They are heavy and they pull hard but I've never really considered that a fight. I guess the interesting thing about this thread is that it shows how different peoples opinions are as to what "fight" actually is.
 

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I'd put a grown spadefish in my top 5 or so "pound for pound best fighting fish". Its like getting snagged on a train. IMO smallmouth beat the crap out of largemouth. And Red drum would be near the top. I haven't caught any pelagic fish but from watchin videos, false albacore seem to be pretty strong for their size.
 

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I pretty much only fish for black bass and stripers and 90% of that in rivers but I have done some still water fishing in my youth. I'll stick to these species for the most part. Also I am not an expert just based on my experience and bias.

In the same water conditions, same day, same river, and lb for lb...

stripers >= smallmouth > spotted >= redeyes (Chattooga kind not NC or VA. Different fish) > LM

River fish fight harder with same water conditions, species, & weight and ESPECIALLY if there are shoals that keep lots of O2 in the H2O.

Another consideration...stripers, spots, and redeyes ain't really big on jumping. Smallies and LM do catch air and smallies are just insane on catching air. That can add bonus points IMHO.


That being said, salt water fish (at least the few species I've fought) fight a lot harder.

Case in point, 9.5 lb snook I landed back in Jan 09 on my fly rod blew my mind. Also burnt my line holding fingers on first run. Those fish will hurt you and break things. Yeah, kind of like the US armed forces.

That being said, same everything and one will fight and another just fakes it.

Some memorable hard fighting fish...









 

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I've fished a lot of freshwater and saltwater. Saltwater fish are the only fish that have ever blistered my whole thumb pad and put bruises on my thigh via a rod butt.
It's the only place my equipment has ever been put to the test with drag burning runs.
It's the only place I've had hours long fights to the point of just breaking the line for some relief.
 

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Some rays, some sharks, and some reds.
They've all beat me up a bit on the surf.

But a ray as big as pick up hood on the other side of the bar will put a beating on you. My last one of that of that magnitude went an hour and 45 minutes before I had had enough. I felt that one for days afterwards. Neck, back, shoulders, arms, fingers, etc. A sting ray can run pretty good when it wants to. It's not a drum quality run, but it's impressive .
 

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From my experience bowfin come to the top and thrash... that's about the extent of it. Not sure I would really call it one of top fighters.
I love catching the 8-10lbers in late spring. They will pull drag and run all up and down the creek. Just when you think they are whipped they will take off again. They aren't the kind of fish that take a run or two and then tire out. I reckon as with any fish it depends a lot on the location and individual fish, but I've rarely caught a bowfin over 2lbs that didn't make me work for it, and I've caught hundreds.
 

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There are a whole lot of fish that can put the screws to you, if they're willing and conditions are favorable. I've been absolutely tanked by a couple of brown trout on gear that I've had no trouble landing 32-34" reds on, but neither I nor anyone else would seriously argue that brown trout are better fighters than red drum. I like the fight that smallies put up, but I rarely feel threatened by the fight; when I lose one it's because it came unbuttoned in a jump or the hook came out because I let slack develop, not because they overpower the gear. The general assessment is that big sharks are 'lazy' fighters, but whenever I talk to someone who has actually landed a really big shark and ask them, "How long did it take to land it?" the answer is invariably like 3-4 hours, sometimes more.

I think it also varies with what you like in a fight. Do you like fish that make long, fast runs? Or do you want something that gives a real heavy pull? Do you want fish that jump, or fish that just won't come in?
 

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I know I'm making some gross generalizations, but for the most part saltwater fish > freshwater for me. I've had several species of salt fishies beat the crap out of me, even on heavy tackle. But then again, a striper trip out of Oregon Inlet is about as bored as I've ever been fishing. I wanted to go back to the school of blues we left.

For freshwater I'd have to put smallmouth and hybrid bass at the top. I love catching stripers, but it's usually just 1 hard run and then drag them in. The hybrids fight you all the way to the boat.

In then end, I enjoy the fight in most every type of fish as long as my tackle is matched accordingly.
 

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I have spent the last hour thinking this one over and have still not come to a conclusion. I am having issues discerning between different environments like rivers and inlets and gear, light tackle vs pole spear and speargun. Have speared amberjack that would not quite give up, forcing me to surface for air several times before expiring. They also will not let you grab ahold of them too early or they will beat you with their bodies. Also have had a 36" snook pull enough dag with the inlet tide giving him a helping hand that required me to not only get off the overhang on Sebastian Inlet but also walk the line down the jetty just to keep fighting the fish. Dangerous and a long fight, but stands out in my mind very well.


Good thread conversation.
 
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