Sailfish Tips

It doesn’t get more impressive than the sailfish.

With fantastic colors, graceful movements, and lightning-quick speed, these highly-prized trophy fish are one of nature’s most impressive creatures. The sailfish may not be a top choice for table-fare, but it remains one of the most sought-after fish for anglers all over the world, including the warm coastal waters here in the USA.

They are also considered that fastest fish in the ocean. In fact, sailfish have been clocked leaping out of the water at 68 mph!

Catching these fish can be a challenge, but when done right, it’s an angler’s dream come true.


There are two subspecies of the sailfish, the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific. However, recent research has discovered that genetically, the two are essentially the same, although they do not breed together.

The sailfish’s habitat is essentially the entire tropical belt of the planet. Generally, they are found offshore, usually feeding off schools of fish near the surface. Their food includes schooling fish like sardines and anchovies, although they have been known to feed on squid and octopus. They usually feed in groups, using their numbers to keep bait-pods in place.

Sailfish are highly abundant throughout the world; outside of common fishing regulations, there is currently no special status or protection for these fish.



Sailfish aren’t the biggest fish in the ocean, so you won’t need the heaviest gear at the bait shop. However, you will need fairly strong line and rods. Many sailfish guides carry upwards of 50 pound braided line with a matching fluorocarbon leader. There are many rigs that you can use, and the setup will change the weight of line you should select.


Nearly any small bait you pull from the water will be effective for catching sailfish. You can use blue runners, threadfin herring, cigar minnows, large pilchards, and more. Having live bait is essential, so change out your baits when they start to slow or die. The panicked, frenzied vibrations of fresh bait are what usually attracts the mighty sailfish.

Finding Sailfish

Sailfish are usually found in offshore water depths around 60 to 180 feet. If you can target these depths and stay within range of reefs, you are in good shape. Sailfish are visual hunters, so clear water is their favorite habitat. Keep an eye out for pods of school fish bursting at the surface followed by the shimmering sails slicing the water. You can also look for birds, as they may lead you to the school.

Always covers as much water as possible by casting baits in multiple directions. When a sailfish is hooked, bring in any lines that will interfere with the catch, but leave out the ones that won’t; they jus may bring your next trophy.

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