New Language for IGFA

DANIA BEACH, FL –  The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recently announced that it is adopting new language to the organization’s rules pertaining to the use of power-driven reels, most commonly referred to as “electric reels.” These reels have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially within the recreational swordfish fishery.

To preface the new language outlined in detail below, the IGFA would like to stress that it does not, and will not, accept the use of electric reels that aid the angler in fighting a fish. This new language simply clarifies the use of electric reels regarding deploying and retrieving baits and/or lures.

IGFA International Angling Rules: Section E. Reel

2. Power- driven reels of any kind are prohibited. This includes motor, hydraulic, or electrically driven reels, and any device that gives the angler an unfair advantage in fighting the fish.

NEW RULE – Effective Immediately
2. Power- driven reels are acceptable under the following situation and configuration.

a) Reels that have power accessories (e.g., electric drill attachments, motors or other power accessories specifically designed for a reel) that can be physically removed from the reel may be used strictly for the purpose of retrieving a deployed bait or lure at depth all the way to the boat.

b) Power accessories may only be used to retrieve a bait or lure completely to the boat and are not permitted for adjusting the position of a bait or lure in the water column.  Once a power accessory is attached to the reel, the bait or lure may no longer be legally used to catch a fish and the bait or lure must be retrieved all the way to the boat for manual redeployment before it may be legally used to hook or catch a fish.  Power accessories may not be attached to the reel during the deployment of a bait or lure.

c) Power accessories must be physically removed from the reel before the act of hooking and/or fighting a fish.  Any fish that strikes a bait or lure being fished with a reel with power accessories still attached- whether or not under electric operation- will not be eligible for record consideration.

d) Electric reels that do not have removable electronic components that allow them to be completely manually driven are prohibited.

The new language listed above was unanimously approved by the IGFA Board of Trustees during their annual meeting in February 2021. Prior to voting on the new language, the IGFA queried leading angling authorities around the world to gather perspectives on this topic.

“Changes to the IGFA’s International Angling Rules are always something we handle with the utmost care,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser. “This rule in particular has been a point of contention for years, and we are pleased to announce this new language that we strongly feel adapts IGFA rules to the technology of our time, while not jeopardizing the core principles of IGFA ethics.”

For more information, please contact IGFA Angler Recognition Coordinator Zack Bellapigna at or 954-924-4247.


About the IGFA

Founded in 1939, The International Game Fish Association is a nonprofit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making, record keeping and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of angling. The IGFA maintains world records in freshwater, saltwater, fly-fishing and junior angler categories. The IGFA has members in more than 100 countries.