IGFA - Fly Fishing Record Rules [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: IGFA - Fly Fishing Record Rules

01-31-2002, 07:44 PM

IFGA rules for fly fishing world record fish are below

Note in F. that use of more than one fly at a time disqualifies you. Appears a weighted fly is OK, but no scent of any type is allowed.

Saltwater guys note no chumming allowed. Actually have seen a few guys doing that for trout and steelhead over the years. Throwing a handful of salmon eggs or corn into a pool can get the buggers really turned on. Have to admit in my youth we did that on the stocked NJ hatchery trout.

The things we do in our youth. :tsk_tsk:


Equipment Regulations


Any type of fly line and backing may be used. The breaking strength of the fly line and backing are not restricted.


Leaders must conform to generally accepted fly fishing customs.

A leader includes a class tippet and, optionally, a shock tippet. A butt or taper section between the fly line and the class tippet shall also be considered part of the leader and there are no limits on its length, material, or strength.

A class tippet must be made of nonmetallic material and either attached directly to the fly or to the shock tippet if one is used. The class tippet must be at least 15 inches (38.10 cm) long (measured inside connecting knots). With respect to knotless, tapered leaders, the terminal 15 inches (38.10 cm) will also determine tippet class. There is no maximum length limitation.

A shock tippet, not to exceed 12 inches (30.48 cm) in length, may be added to the class tippet and tied to the lure. It can be made of any type of material, and there is no limit on its breaking strength. The shock tippet is measured from the eye of the hook to the single strand of class tippet and includes any knots used to connect the shock tippet to the class tippet.

In the case of a tandem hook fly, the shock tippet shall be measured from the eye of the leading hook.


Regardless of material used or number of sections, rods must conform to generally accepted fly fishing customs and practices. A rod shall not measure less than 6 feet (1.82 meters) in overall length. Any rod that gives the angler an unsporting advantage will be disqualified. Extension butts are limited to 6 inches (15.24 cm).


The reel must be designed expressly for fly fishing. There are no restrictions on gear ratio or type of drag employed except where the angler would gain an unfair advantage. Electric or electronically operated reels are prohibited.


A conventional fly may be dressed on a single or double hook or two single hooks in tandem. The second hook in any tandem fly must not extend beyond the wing material. The eyes of the hooks shall be no farther than 6 inches (15.24 cm) apart. Treble hooks are prohibited.


The lure must be a recognized type of artificial fly, which includes streamer, bucktail, tube fly, wet fly, dry fly, nymph, popper and bug. The use of any other type of lure or natural or preserved bait, either singularly or attached to the fly, is expressly prohibited. Only a single fly is allowed. Dropper flies are prohibited. The fact that a lure can be cast with a fly rod is not evidence in itself that it fits the definition of a fly. The use of any lure designed to entangle or foul hook a fish is prohibited. No scent, either natural or artificial is allowed on flies. The use of scented material in a fly is prohibited.


Gaffs and nets used to boat or land a fish must not exceed 8 feet (2.44 meters) in overall length. (When fishing from a bridge, pier or other high stationary structure, this length limitation does not apply.) The use of a flying gaff is not permitted. Only a single hook is permitted on any gaff. Harpoon or lance attachments are prohibited. A rope or any extension cannot be attached to the gaff.

Angling Regulations

1. The angler must cast, hook, fight, and bring the fish to gaff or net unaided by any other person. No other person may touch any part of the tackle during the playing of the fish or give aid other than taking the leader for gaffing or netting purposes.

2. Casting and retrieving must be carried out in accordance with normal customs and generally accepted practices. The major criterion in casting is that the weight of the line must carry the fly rather than the weight of the fly carrying the line. Trolling a fly behind a moving water craft is not permitted. The craft must be completely out of gear both at the time the fly is presented to the fish and during the retrieve. The maximum amount of line that can be stripped off the reel is 120 feet (36.57 meters) from the fly.

3. Once a fish is hooked, the tackle may not be altered in any way, with the exception of adding an extension butt.

4. Fish must be hooked on the fly in use. If a small fish takes the fly and a larger fish swallows the smaller fish, the catch will be disallowed.

5. One or more people may assist in gaffing or netting the fish.

6. The angling and equipment regulations shall apply until the fish is weighed.

The following acts will disqualify a catch:

1. Failure to comply with equipment or angling regulations.

2. The act of persons other than the angler in touching any part of the rod, reel, or line either bodily or with any device during the playing of the fish, or in giving any aid other than that allowed in the rules and regulations. If an obstacle to the passage of the line through the rod guides has to be removed from the line, then the obstacle shall be held and cut free. Under no circumstances should the line be held or touched by anyone other than the angler during this process.

3. Resting the rod on any part of the boat, or on any other object while playing the fish.

4. Handlining or using a handline or rope attached in any manner to the angler's line or leader for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.

5. Intentionally foul hooking or snagging a fish.

6. Shooting, harpooning, or lancing any fish (including sharks and halibut) at any stage of the catch.

7. Chumming with the flesh, blood, skin, or any part of mammals.

8. Using a boat or device to beach or drive a fish into shallow water in order to deprive the fish of its normal ability to swim.

9. Attaching the angler's line or leader to part of a boat or other object for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.

10. If a fish escapes before gaffing or netting and is recaptured by any method other than as outlined in the angling rules.

11. When a rod breaks (while the fish is being played) in a manner that reduces its length below minimum dimensions or severely impairs its angling characteristics.

12. When a fish is hooked or entangled on more than one line.

13. Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh. (Injuries caused by leader or line, scratches, old healed scars or regeneration deformities are not considered to be disqualifying injuries.) Any mutilation on the fish must be shown in a photograph and fully explained in a separate report accompanying the record application.

01-31-2002, 10:10 PM
Hal... I joined the IGFA just for the hell of it and recieved their book with it's history, all records and the rules... but what ,for me was more valuable is it's fish species index with pictures and descriptions as well as various names each individual fish is known by.. I think it's a great resourse... The Association seems a little too tournament oriented but the book is well worth it.

Capt. Mel Simpson
02-01-2002, 06:35 AM
Thank you PM for the rules info, but I think it would help if you also explained the requirements for applying for and the weighing of a world record fish.
I agree strongly with Striblue about the over emphasis on toutnaments by the IGFA. The tournement mentality is out of control here in Florida and I wouldn't wish that on any fishery.
Looking forward to you next thread on IGFA rules?

02-01-2002, 08:29 AM
Same reason I didn't join and I had a free membership coupon given me by a guide two years ago!

I did the tournament thing back in the U.K. for about three seasons and I nearly quit fishing altogether! There was more aggravation during tournaments than I ever had at work which seemed kind of wierd until an old sage reminded me what fishing is supposed to be about:smokin:

02-01-2002, 07:15 PM

I just found it interesting what their rules for qualifying a world record fish on a fly fishing gear were. I agree I also am not into the tournament fishing circuits of any type of all. Sad to see there apparrently still are many people into this type of fishing though.

Myself I have been full catch and release for at least 15 years now, but I grew up with this mentality cutting my fly fishing teeth on the NYS Catskill region rivers (Beaverkill, Willowemuc, Delaware,etc,) where no kill fisheries started around the mid 1960s.

I love eating fish, just not the ones that I catch !


02-01-2002, 08:19 PM
Hal.. The IGFA also provides for a mechanism to apply for a world record without killing the fish... I don't have the reference at my side.. But if you are able to photo it, weigh it and have a witness they will accept it as viable application.. However.. your scale must be certified by the Association and you are to mail it in for testing and then get it certified... the certification is good for one year.

02-01-2002, 09:23 PM

I would never take the risk of hurting the fish with the extra steps required to measure, photograph, and weigh it, even if I knew it was a potential record. I guess that it is just me. Caught enough big fish, I am over that stage in my fishing pursuits. Now it is just to relax and if I catch something great if not it was still a great day. The macho pursuit stage is over, except when I know the large (15lb+) wild steelhead are in the river and within range.
Then the heart gets pounding for sure. :hehe: :hehe:

God I hope work does not cancel out the March Steelhead trip when the big wild ones are available, but things are not looking good right now, work schedule is filled with time critical things, and more are coming from my Swiss HO friends.

We will see.


02-01-2002, 10:43 PM
I agree with you on the weighing potential danger and was only making certain that people knew that they do not have to kill a fish if it is a record they are after, but having it photoed in your arms does not concern me. The witness ,i.e. your fishing companion would be taking the picture and I think that is done often so long as it is done fast. just My opinion.

02-02-2002, 07:56 AM


The only possible world record fish I may have had on was that huge Musky that gave me a boat ride around the Chippewa Flowage in Northern Wisconsin six years ago. That was not on fly fishing tackle but normal Musky bait casting setup, 40lb test line. Chippewa Flowage still has the world record Musky at 69 lbs, 63 inches long, which was caught in 1947 by Louis Spray just a mile or so from the famous area of the flowage "Petes Bar" in which I hooked this monster fish. Had it on for 30-40 minutes and beat the Hxxl out of me. Exhausted, bleeding, etc. The locals say there is always one or two huge possible new world record Muskys that may be around the "Petes Bar" area of the flowage.

I told that story in a thread back in November, big fish stories thread.

After I lost that fish, and was drifting by myself in the middle of the Flowage, a beaten man, on a beautiful late June sunny afternoon, I knew that was the fish of my life time, and there would probably not be one that could top it.

The Chippewa Flowage is in what they call the "North Woods" area of Wisconsin and is just a beautiful wilderness area. A large part of the Flowage is in indian reservations. It is 15,000 acres, 233 miles of shoreline, 140 islands, and uniquely has floating bogs. These are islands which float around the like, pushed by the wind, some are large. You never know where they will be. Just a beautiful area, white birches, eagles, bears, mink, loons, etc...

If you ever get the chance get up to that area also UP of Michigan and Minnesota are beautiful areas and great fishing.

Great country we have here and fisheries, hopefully it will be preserved for future generations.


02-02-2002, 04:57 PM
Sounds like a great area.... let me know when you are ever in Boton on Busines.

02-04-2002, 06:54 PM

Yes when in Boston again will let you know. Just hope it is not
January - March when I got stranded twice in one month in blizzards years ago. 1978 remember those ?

Right now getting ready for trip to LA next week, world wide Zurich compliance conference. No time for fishing or probably even to see the sun with the schedule they have me on !!!!!

Oh well get to see LA a little any way, but not like the times I have been there before.


02-05-2002, 11:27 AM

Thanks for the Rules. The only record I would even think about going for would be Blue Fish. The thought of a 20#+ Blue on an 8- or 9-wgt would be quite a kick!

I have been to Northern Minnesota (Brainard, famed in the movie "Fargo") on bussiness in the Late 80's. No time for fishing, but it sure was pretty country. Up there the Mississippi R. is not even a stones throw wide!

As JohnM said, let us know if you get up to the NE during fishing season; we could show you some hospitality.

Yeah Pats!

02-06-2002, 07:38 AM
>>Saltwater guys note no chumming allowed

Actually, chumming is allowed. Chumming with mammal parts isn't. Who would want to do that anyway?