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Have you always wanted to experience the thrill of catching sailfish? Do you want to learn how to catch sailfish? Sailfish is one of the most challenging fishes to catch. They are of the billfish species of fish that also include swordfish, marlin, and spearfish. They are very large, powerful, and put up a spirited fight when hooked.

Sailfish are also very fast swimmers which makes it even more challenging when fishing for them. In this article, we discuss the fishing methods, tips, tricks tackle, bait, and other information to help you experience catching sailfish.

How To Catch Sailfish
How To Catch Sailfish

How To Catch Sailfish

There are a number of fishing methods that work well when targeting sailfish. Most anglers will implement, trolling, kite fishing, drifting, or sight fishing.

1. Kite Fishing

Kite fishing is one of the popular and effective methods of fishing for sailfish. Kite fishing suspends live bait from above and keeps it just underneath the surface of the water. This allows the bait to swim naturally just below the surface and it also lets your tackle be above the water which makes it difficult for the sailfish to see it. Live bait is the best when kite fishing and mullet, blue runner, and goggle-eye are baits that work well.

2. Trolling

One of the favorite fishing methods of most sailfish anglers is trolling. When trolling, you cover a lot of water in a relatively short period of time. Trolling involves slowly moving the boat as you let your bait drift at the speed of the boat. This will attract sailfish and other fish. When they bite, you take your fishing rod and skillfully control the fish, and eventually reel it in.

Tricks For Sailfish Fishing
Tricks For Sailfish Fishing

3. Sight Fishing

Sight fishing is another method used by anglers to catch sailfish. This method involves looking out for baitfish like ballyhoo frantically escaping from an area. The chances are that they are fleeing from a predator like sailfish and this is a sign for you to target that area with your bait and lures to catch sailfish.

4. Drift Fishing

Drift fishing is a fishing method in which there are several fishing lines placed at equal distances on a boat and also range in depth. As the boat moves, the baited fishing lines are carried by the speed of the boat. Drift fishing is used not only for sailfish but other fish in the billfish species like swordfish and others fish species as well.

Tips To Catch Sailfish
Tips To Catch Sailfish

Sailfish Tackle Setup

A 20- to 30-pound conventional or spinning fishing rod will work well when you fish for sailfish using kite fishing or trolling. If you are targeting sailfish on the surface, you can use a 12- to 20-pound spinning fishing rod.

The fishing reel has to match the rod and a 12- to 30-pound spinning or conventional reel will work when fishing for sailfish. You can use a 12- to 30-pound monofilament line and a 15-foot wind-on leader of 40- to 50-pound fluorocarbon. In-circle hooks, 4/0 to 7/0 will work depending on the size of the bait.

Tips For Sailfish Fishing
Tips For Sailfish Fishing

Sailfish Fishing Tips

  1. Always keep on the lookout for birds circling above the water exhibiting a specific behavior. Look for frigates that are cruising or diving and working the water. If you find birds circling or diving into the water, that is a sure sign that they are targeting fish.

2. Sailfish likes warm temperatures and this makes the water temperature important when fishing for sailfish. Learn to study the sea-surface temperatures, especially the morning weather conditions.

3. Sailfish often travel in groups. When you get one hooked, quickly get it off and set your line back in the water as there are others nearby that you can also get.

Sailfish Fishing
Sailfish Fishing

4. Set your hook sets low just in case you miss, the fly will be in position for another bite.

5. Prevent the fly line from wrapping around the rod’s tip when the sailfish jumps. Stick the tip in the water to increase tension on the line.

6. When fishing for sailfish, remember that they prefer hunting into the current.

Sailfish Fishing Tricks
Sailfish Fishing Tricks

7. Always let the sailfish run for a few seconds before engaging the reel when using a circle hook. Do not jerk your rod tip upward. Instead, let the circle hook work and set it in the corner of the fish’s mouth.

8. Wear gloves when releasing the fish back into the water to protect your hand from the bill as well as protect the fish from damage.

Sailfish Fishing Tips
Sailfish Fishing Tips

9. Try to not pull the sailfish out of the water. Just hold the bill and pull it through the water at a slow speed and release it back when it seems to have recovered from the catch.

Sailfish Fishing Ideas
Sailfish Fishing Ideas

Best Bait For Sailfish

1. Blue Runners

Blue runners are one of the best baits for sailfish. It is very effective and many anglers use Blue runners when fishing for sailfish.

2. Cigar Minnows

Cigar minnows are another good bait that anglers use when it trolling for sailfish.

3. Goggle Eyes

Goggle eyes are another bait that works well when fishing for sailfish. It is a favorite with many anglers who target sailfish.

4. Pilchards

Pilchards, especially large pilchards, cigar minnows, and threadfin herring, are great bait for sailfish, especially when sailfish target small baits.

Sailfish Fishing Hacks
Sailfish Fishing Hacks

5. Speedos

Speedos, like google eyes and Blue Runners, are good bait for sailfish, especially when you use them as live bait.

6. Sardines

Sardines as a live bait also works well with Blue runners, cigar minnows, goggle eyes, speedos, and large pilchards.

7. Mullet

Mullet works well when you use kite fishing to target sailfish. Blue runners, threadfin herring, and goggle eyes are also other baits that work well when kite fishing.

8. Threadfin Herring

Threadfin herring is another bait that is very productive when you implement kite fishing when fishing for sailfish.

Catching Sailfish
Catching Sailfish

Best Lures For Sailfish

1. Spoons

Spoons are excellent lures for sailfish. They are very popular with anglers as they are easy to use and work well to attract sailfish. Spoons mimic the movement and flashing that is often done by bait fish. This makes them attractive to sailfish and excellent lures.

2. Feathers

Feathers also work well as a lure when targeting sailfish.

Catching Sailfish Tips
Catching Sailfish Tips
What is the best bait for sailfish?
Blue runners, mullet, cigar minnows, goggle eyes, and sardines are some of the best bait for sailfish.
How long does it take to catch a sailfish?
Sailfish puts up a spirited fight when hooked; however, that fight does not last a very long time. On average, sailfish will fight for about seven minutes.
How deep of water do you need to catch sailfish?
You can fish for sailfish between 60 to 80 feet deep in water.
Are sailfish good to eat?
You can eat sailfish as it is edible; however, it is not the most tasty fish.

The Bottom Line

Sailfish is a large and powerful fish that anglers like to target as it is an exciting sports fish. It is a member of the billfish species and can be found on the Eastern coast of the United States and Canada as well as in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is a challenging fish to catch as it is not only large and powerful, but it is very fast and will put up a spirited fight when hooked. In this article, we discussed how to catch sailfish, discussed the fishing methods for sailfish, the best baits and lures, and other information about sailfish. If you also fish for marlin, you can also read how to catch marlin and how to catch swordfish.