The Sailfish

By: Shannon McNally


The sailfish can range from blue to silver in color and has a white underbelly which can sometimes have spots on them. It also has an upper jaw that is longer than it's lower jaw which creates a spear that the sailfish can use to catch prey. It's most defining feature is the huge dorsal fin that is shaped liked a sail that is almost as long as their bodies but is taller than the width of their bodies when stretched out.


The location of the sailfish will vary depending on what type of sailfish you are trying to catch. The Atlantic Sailfish will be found along coastal subtropical and tropical waters. Their numbers are large along the Florida coast, the Caribbean Sea, the Brazilian coast, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Guinea on the Senegal can be a good place to find this type of sailfish as well. The Indo-Pacific Sailfish stay within the temperate and tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific. The best place to fish for the sailfish would be Guatemala since they receive about 15 to 20 sailfish bites on average which gave Guatemala the name the Sailfish Capital of the world.

Types of Bait and Lures Used to Catch Sailfish

Types of Lures:

1. Trolling Lures : This is one of the most commonly used lures when fishing by boat.

Types of Baits:

1. Ballyhoo

2. Threadfin Herring

3. Blue Runners

4. Pilchards

5. Batfish

6. Large Sea Garfish

7. Sardines

8. Slimey Mackerel

9. Yellowtail

10. Queenfish

11. Mullet

12. Any type of lively bait

Types of Techniques Used to Catch Sailfish

1. Drifting with Artificial or Live Bait: this simple method catches thousands of sailfish each season. This method requires the angler to posses a great amount of skill in order to catch fish effectively. Live baiting is similar to artificial baiting and simply requires a lot of time and patience. It is also the method most loved by anglers.

2. Fly Fishing: This method also requires some patience but is a simple and common method to use especially in places like Florida and Guatemala where there are an abundance of sailfish.

3. Switch-baiting: this method is complex so it isn't used very often but it is effective for catching sailfish.


Fishing Rod & Reel: For a threadline outfit a 6-7 foot 15kg rod matched with a Shimano 6000 or Daiwa 4500 sized reel is ideal. When you are using an overhead setup however, a TLD15-25 size reel with a 5-6 foot 15kg game rod is recommended.

Line & Leader: For the line, a 15kg mono is preferred. You can use a braid as an alternative but it is more useful to visually sight casting surface lures. For the leader, a 2m+ wind-on of 80-110lb hard mono will suffice.

Terminal Tackle: A size 8/0-9/0 owner or gamakatsu circle hook with stainless crimps and thin plastic tubing will do.

Legal Requirements

The requirements for the sailfish is that the minimum size of the fish cannot be any lower than 66 inches of the lower jaw/ fork length. You can only bag 1 fish per person or else you exceed the limit. The season for the sailfish is year-round meaning that you can fish for the sailfish as long as you have your permit or license with you which is required by law whenever you are fishing in federal waters.