IGFA Release Guidelines

For the purposes of qualifying catches for IGFA Grand Slams and determining releases in recreational fishing tournaments, IGFA will consider a fish officially released when one of the following actions occurs:

Leader lengths must conform to current IGFA tackle requirements. For saltwater species caught on conventional tackle, in line up to and including 10 kilograms (20 pound), the leader may not exceed 4.57 meters (15 feet). In lines over 10 kilograms (20 pounds), the leader may not be in excess of 9.14 meters (30 feet). For freshwater species caught on conventional tackle, the leader may not exceed 1.82 meters (6 feet). All leader measurements are inclusive of the lure or hook arrangement and are measured to the bend of the last hook. IGFA tackle requirements for fly fishing do not stipulate a maximum overall length for fly leaders. However since IGFA rules do not allow class tippets heavier than 10 kilograms (20 pounds), IGFA has adopted the convention of allowing maximum fly leader lengths of 4.57 (15 feet) in keeping with the regulations for conventional tackle. Fly leader length will be measured to the eye of the first hook. Shock tippets may not measure more than 30.48 centimeters (12 inches) in length and class tippets must be a minimum of 38.10 centimeters (15 inches) in length.

The IGFA also recommends the following best practices for safe and ethical release of fish:

• Circle hooks are encouraged when fishing with live or dead natural bait.
• The hook should be removed if possible so that it will not cause additional harm to angler or fish.
• If the hook cannot be removed, the leader should be cut as close to the hook as possible.
• Refrain from breaking or “popping” leaders as this can cause additional harm to fish, especially those not hooked in the jaw.
• Ample time should be taken to revive exhausted fish by gently moving them forward in the water to get water flowing over the gills.
• Knotless, rubber coated nets should be used on fish that are netted.