A lot of fish are lost, and fights unnecessarily prolonged, because anglers don't know how to pump a fish properly. Here is an easy way to get a novice started, and brush up your own technique, at home on a nice, stable platform. In picture (1), Peter has rigged a small, pulley wheel to a rafter of the roof, then he's run the line through that and down to tie of on the handle of a half bucket of water. How much water you put in the bucket depends on the tackle you are working with. In this case, Peter is using a 24kg outfit.
To do the exercise, stand off a reasonable distance from the pulley to flatten the angle of the line to a reasonable level, then start pumping the bucket upoff the ground (pic 2). The trick is that the bucket must never be allowed to go down, only up. It's harder than you think, but a bit of practice here will get rid of those split seconds of slack you give a fish; split seconds that often cost you a fish.
The trick is to keep even pressure on the rod, same speed on the downward stroke as the upward stroke, plus start to wind the reel handle just before you drop the rod on the forward pump.
CLEARING THE ROD HOLDER
This is the one where you can actually watch the fish swimming off, smiling, when you get it wrong. In the first shot (pic 3), Peter does what most people do, grabbing the rod with two hands above the reel, and lifting in the direction of the pull. This will allow the rod tip to dip taking the pressure off the fish which may lose it, especially if it's a billfish.
In the next shot (pic 4), Peter does it right, taking a firm grip with one hand above the reel and one below. In (5) and (6) you can see how the lower hand pushes against the butt, while the upper hand pulls against the fore grip. It is this upper hand that becomes dominant as the rod clears the holder, pulling back against the fore grip to loosen the grip in the rod holder and to keep pressure on the rod tip.
The same push/pull grip is maintained until the rod is firmly locked into the gimbal.
Picture (7) shows a quality gimbal apron and kidney harness properly adjusted. With lots of pressure on the line, Peter is able to stand comfortably, resting his arms, yet still applying maximum pressure to the fish. In (8) you can see how relaxed Peter is, but his body weight alone has that rod loaded nicely, and he is, in fact, pulling a 6m boat sideways into a stiff beam wind. Note that Peter is leaning back, with bent knees and straight back and shoulders.
In (9) the correct method of applying side pressure to a fish is demonstrated. It looks awkward with the reel tipped over onto its side like that, but the line has been kept bedded right down into the smooth base of the rollers. When the rod is simply tilted to either right or left, the line moves onto the roller frames shredding the line, and there goes another fish.
THE "COME HERE" TECHNIQUE
In (10) Peter has that situation we all hate, but many people simply accept as part and parcel of dealing with big fish, the straight up and down slug that destroys perfectly good backs. The solution? Move the boat. Preferably in the direction where the boat will drift away from the fish ie down wind or down current. this puts maximum pressure on the fish and helps plane it up towards the surface. Try and keep the angle of the line at least 45 degrees.
In (11 & 12) we have the final 'Don't Argue' situation, where the rod is fully loaded off the harness, and a single turn of line over the hand facilitates a full lockup on the fish. Remember, you don't have anything like the pressure on your hand with line over the hand with line over the rod that you do on a direct trace grip. If you do this with the double on the reel you can put a huge amount of pressure over a bent rod held at a low angle, it is highly unlikely that the line will break through a bent rod
This is a very useful trick when fishing two up in a boat. The driver only leaves the wheel to wield the tag pole.