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Would you like to go marlin fishing? Do you want to learn how to catch marlin? Marlin can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. There are four species of marlin namely, black, white, blue, and striped marlin. Marlin is a fast, large, and athletic fish. It is a hard fighter and will jump, twist, and shake when hooked. In this article, we will discuss how to catch marlin, fishing techniques, tips, and equipment to improve your chances of catching marlin.

How To Catch Marlin
How To Catch Marlin

How To Catch Marlin

1. Trolling

Trolling is a highly effective fishing method for targeting marlin, allowing anglers to cover large areas of open water while presenting a variety of enticing baits or lures. By trailing lines behind a moving boat at varying depths and distances from the vessel, anglers can mimic the movement of prey fish and attract the attention of marlin cruising near the surface or deeper depths.

This method is particularly popular in offshore environments where marlin are known to inhabit. Trolling allows anglers to experiment with different bait and lure presentations, including natural baits like mullet, mackerel, or squid, as well as artificial lures designed to imitate the swimming action of prey species.

Additionally, the use of teasers or dredges can help create additional visual attraction and entice strikes from curious marlin. To ensure successful trolling efforts, anglers must pay close attention to factors such as trolling speed, lure placement, and sea conditions. For more information on trolling techniques for marlin fishing, anglers can refer to resources provided by organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries at this link.

2. Drifting

Drifting involves allowing the boat to drift naturally with the current while presenting bait or lures to marlin passing by. This method is often used when fishing over areas with significant underwater structure or where marlin are known to congregate.

Anglers can deploy live bait or rigged dead baits such as ballyhoo or mullet at varying depths to entice marlin. Drifting allows for a more natural presentation of bait and can be effective in areas where trolling may not be suitable.

3. Live Baiting

Live baiting involves presenting live baitfish such as mullet, mackerel, or bonito to marlin using specialized rigs or kite fishing techniques. This method can be highly effective, as live baitfish are naturally enticing to predatory species like marlin.

Anglers can deploy live baits at different depths and distances from the boat to target marlin feeding near the surface or deeper waters. Live baiting requires careful bait management and rigging to ensure the baitfish remains lively and attractive to marlin.

4. Chunking

Chunking is a method where anglers deploy chunks or strips of baitfish into the water to attract marlin. This technique involves cutting baitfish into chunks or strips and dispersing them around the boat to create a scent trail. The scent of the baitfish attracts marlin to the area, where anglers can then present hooked baits or lures to entice strikes.

Chunking is often used in conjunction with other fishing methods such as drifting or anchoring and can be particularly effective when targeting marlin in areas with strong currents or where natural baitfish populations are abundant.

Marlin Tackle

Marlin can be caught with almost all tackles. However, with its size, strength, and spirited fight when hooked, you have to invest in a high-quality tackle. it has to be heavy enough for the beating it will endure when a marlin gets hooked. A trolling reel and a custom roller rod with at least 130lb braid and a 300lb mono leader will work.

Tricks For Marlin Fishing
Tricks For Marlin Fishing

Best Bait For Marlin

1. Mullet

Mullet is a popular and effective bait for targeting marlin due to its oily flesh and natural swimming action. When rigged properly, mullet can mimic the movement of injured or distressed baitfish, making it highly attractive to predatory species like marlin.

Anglers typically rig mullet as either live bait or dead bait, depending on the fishing method and preference. Live mullet can be rigged through the lips or back using circle hooks or J-hooks to keep them lively and swimming naturally.

Dead mullet can be rigged with single or double hook rigs, often with skirted or unskirted trolling lures to add extra attraction. Whether drift fishing, trolling, or live baiting, mullet can entice strikes from marlin prowling the depths or cruising near the surface, making it a versatile and reliable bait choice for anglers targeting these powerful game fish.

2. Mackerel

Mackerel is a favored bait among anglers targeting marlin due to its oily flesh and strong scent, which can attract these apex predators from a distance. Whether rigged as live bait or used as dead bait, mackerel’s natural swimming action and enticing scent make it irresistible to marlin.

When rigged alive, mackerel can be hooked through the lips or back, allowing it to swim freely and attractively in the water column. Alternatively, dead mackerel can be rigged with hooks and added to trolling spreads or drifted behind boats to entice strikes. Its versatility and effectiveness make mackerel a go-to bait choice for anglers pursuing marlin in various fishing conditions and locations.

3. Bonito

Bonito, with its robust flavor and oily flesh, is a popular bait choice for anglers targeting marlin. This fish’s strong scent and natural swimming action make it highly attractive to these apex predators. Bonito can be rigged as live bait, allowing it to swim freely and entice marlin with its lifelike movements.

Alternatively, it can be used as dead bait, either whole or filleted, and rigged with hooks to be trolled behind boats or drifting in the water column. Its versatility and effectiveness make bonito a valuable asset in the arsenal of anglers seeking to lure in and hook marlin during their fishing expeditions.

4. Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo, a type of halfbeak fish found in tropical and subtropical waters, is a staple bait for targeting marlin. Its slender profile and flashy colors mimic the natural prey of these large billfish, making it irresistible to them.

Anglers often rig ballyhoo with a circle hook and attach them to a trolling lure or skirt to create an enticing presentation. Ballyhoo can be trolled at various speeds and depths to target marlin cruising near the surface or deeper in the water column. Its natural swimming motion and enticing scent make ballyhoo a go-to bait for anglers looking to hook into these powerful gamefish.

Ballyhoo is one of the best baits for marlin as it is a favorite of marlin, tuna, wahoo, and mahi-mahi. When learning how to catch marlin, remember this as you collect baits and lures for marlin fishing.

5. Flying fish

Flying fish are a coveted bait for targeting marlin due to their natural behavior of leaping out of the water to escape predators. Marlin are known to prey on flying fish, making them an effective bait option.

Anglers often rig flying fish with a specialized kite or helium balloon rig to simulate their natural flight and attract marlin to the surface. The bait is typically rigged with a hook and attached to a kite line or balloon line, allowing it to glide enticingly above the water.

This presentation mimics the behavior of flying fish and entices marlin to strike. Using flying fish as bait requires skillful rigging and presentation techniques but can yield rewarding results when targeting these majestic billfish.

6. Squid

Squid is a versatile and popular bait for targeting marlin, known for its effectiveness in attracting these predatory fish. Whether used whole or in strips, squid emits a strong scent that can entice marlin from a distance.

Anglers often rig squid on large hooks to mimic the appearance of natural prey, ensuring a better chance of enticing a strike. The soft texture of squid allows it to move naturally in the water, adding to its appeal as a bait option.

Additionally, squid can be easily combined with other baitfish or lures to create attractive presentations for marlin. Overall, squid serves as a reliable and readily available bait choice for anglers targeting these powerful game fish.

7. Tuna

Tuna is a highly effective bait for targeting marlin due to its oily and flavorful nature, making it irresistible to these apex predators. Whether fresh or frozen, tuna emits a strong scent that can attract marlin from afar. Anglers often use large chunks or whole tuna as bait, rigged on heavy-duty hooks to withstand the powerful strikes of marlin.

Tuna’s firm texture allows it to stay on the hook well, even in rough sea conditions. Furthermore, tuna can be trolled behind boats or deployed as a natural baitfish presentation, mimicking the behavior of injured prey and enticing marlin to strike. Overall, tuna is a favored bait choice among anglers seeking to hook into these majestic and powerful game fish.

Fishing Marlin Tricks
Fishing Marlin Tricks

Marlin Fishing For Beginners

A beginner should go fishing with others who have experience catching marlin. Marlin is not a regular fish like bass or trout. You will need guidance with your fishing career. Moreover, it can be dangerous to fish and handle marlin.

There are chartered boat services for marlin fishing that may be the right setup for a beginner marlin angler. The charter services come with the right equipment and an experienced crew that will guide you on your fishing trips.

Best Lures For Marlin

1. Rubber Lures

Rubber lures, also known as rubber skirts or rubber squids, are a popular lure choice for targeting marlin. These lures typically consist of a soft rubber skirt that mimics the movement of baitfish underwater. Rubber lures are often rigged with a weighted head and trailing hook assembly, allowing them to be trolled behind boats at various depths.

The vibrant colors and lifelike swimming action of rubber lures make them highly attractive to marlin, eliciting aggressive strikes. Anglers can customize rubber lures by adjusting the size, color, and skirt configuration to match local baitfish species and water conditions.

When trolled at high speeds, rubber lures create commotion in the water, attracting curious marlin and triggering their predatory instincts. Overall, rubber lures are a versatile and effective option for enticing marlin in offshore fishing environments.

Marlin Fishing
Marlin Fishing

Marlin Fishing Tips

1. Live baits are a better choice when fishing for marlin than plastic or wooden baits.

2. When the fishing area is small, use live bait.

3. Trolling can be used to catch marlin.

Marlin Fishing Tricks
Marlin Fishing Tricks

4. When fishing for marlin, use live baits in areas near buoys and steep underwater ledges.

5. When marlin takes the bait, let the fish go with the hook for a short time before setting it. Then give the line a few tugs.

6. Marlin is often caught in the deep sea.

Marlin Fishing Tips
Marlin Fishing Tips

7. You can also use lures trolled behind a boat to catch marlin.

8. Marlin is a migratory fish and will migrate to spawn, eat, and find warm waters.

9. Troll slowly when using live bait because if you troll too fast, the bait will not survive.

Marlin Fishing Ideas
Marlin Fishing Ideas

10. Marlin will bite live bait, rigged natural bait, and artificial lures.

11. Ballyhoo is a popular choice for anglers when using rigged natural bait.

12. Circle hooks are a good choice for hooks if you will release the marlin back into the water.

Fishing Marlin
Fishing Marlin

13. One technique anglers implement is to troll one bait on each side of the boat and then have another one down deep on a downrigger if you have one.

14. When a marlin takes the bait, ease the tension on the reel until the line starts going out such that you can’t stop it. This usually implies that the fish has taken the bait.

15. One of the keys to successfully fishing marlin is to find the areas where they are located.

Marlin Fishing For Beginners
Marlin Fishing For Beginners
What is the best bait for marlin?
Mullet, squid, tuna, mackerel ballyhoo, and bonito are some of the best baits for marlin.
Is it hard to catch marlin?
Marlin is difficult to catch as it is large, fast, elusive, puts up a spirited fight when hooked, and is a master of escape.
How are marlins caught?
Trolling with live or dead bait, artificial lures, or rigged natural bait is the widely used method of fishing for marlin.
What depth do you catch marlin?
Marlin can be found at depth of about 150 feet, although you can also find Atlantic blue marlin and white marlin at depth of about 400 feet.
Is marlin meat good to eat?
Marlin is good to eat and is low in saturated fat and rich in vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium, protein, selenium, and other vital nutrients.
What time of year is best for marlin fishing?
The best time of the year for marlin fishing is from January to March.
How fast do you troll for marlins?
When trolling for marlin, moving in the range of 3 to 8 knots will work.

The Bottom Line

Marlin is one of the largest game fish in the world. It is one of the goals of anglers to catch a marlin. It is large, elusive, powerful, and a hard fighter when it is hooked. The angler’s skills are truly put to the test when they fish for marlin. The key to being successful fishing marlin is knowing where to look, using the right bait, and using the right equipment.

If you are also interested in largemouth bass, haddock, and lingcod, then read how to catch largemouth bass, how to catch haddock, how to catch sailfish, how to catch swordfish, and how to catch lingcod.