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Do you always relish catching swordfish? Would you like to know how to catch swordfish? Swordfish are one of the fiercest predators any angler will experience when fishing. They are large, powerful, fast, agile, and will put up a serious fight for a long period when hooked.

Many anglers have to catch on their fishing wish list. In this article, we will share information about how to catch swordfish the best baits, lures, fishing gear, swordfish fishing tips, and other information to help you achieve this fishing feat of landing a swordfish.

How To Catch Swordfish
How To Catch Swordfish

How To Catch Swordfish

How to catch swordfish during the day depends on the angler and the conditions during the day. There are many different fishing methods that can be used for fishing swordfish and they are explained below.

1. Trolling

Trolling is one of the fishing methods that can be used to catch swordfish. When trolling you set your bait on the line and attach the rod to the back of the boat. As the boat moves slowly, the bait is pulled by the boat’s speed. Usually, trolling is done at a slow speed.

Moreover, when fishing for swordfish, anglers implement a type of trolling called bump trolling. It is often used to target swordfish during the day. With bump trolling, the bait is dropped at a variety of depths using a bobber-like fishing buoy. Bump trolling is ideal when there is very little or no current in the water.

As you move the boat forward, the bait will move at the speed of the boat toward the surface. When you slow down, the bait will drop back to the initial depth. This allows you to cover both the surface and the depth. Bump trolling allows you to cover a lot of water and test out different depths.

2. Drifting

Drifting is a fishing method in which the boat drifts with the currents allowing you to target swordfish. Drifting is often implemented when fishing on the bottom and you can then target swordfish that are at the bottom preying on baitfish, squid, plankton, and crustaceans.

3. Kite Fishing

Kite fishing is a fishing method in which a kite is used to suspend the bait at different depths in the water. It is effective in attracting swordfish located at different depths in the water column. It helps you cover a large area of the water when fishing for swordfish in a relatively short period of time.

Catching Swordfish
Catching Swordfish

4. Deep Dropping

Deep dropping is another fishing method anglers use to fish for swordfish. To deep drop, you will need to know the depth that the swordfish is feeding and set the bait. You will have to rig the bait properly since swordfish will not go for bait that is poorly rigged.

When deep dropping, you must be ready to strike when the swordfish takes the bait. A good fish finder will provide that information. if you are interested in the best fish finders, then you can read this review.

Swordfish Tackle

Swordfish is a large, agile, fast, powerful, and elusive fish. It is also one of the fiercest of fish you will encounter. It will put up a serious fight when hooked. Therefore, you will need a sturdy fishing rod and reel with a high line capacity to its strength and weight.

Additionally, a 30-pound reel with 500 yds of the 80-pound braid with a 150 yd top shot of 60 mono and a wind-on leader and a strong drag system to handle the ferocious fight of the swordfish will work.

A breakaway rig works well when targeting swordfish as it allows for a quick release of the fishing line if it becomes entangled. A hook size of 12/0, a leader of about 300-500 pounds, and a drag pressure of a minimum of 30 pounds will work when targeting swordfish. A pair of gloves will work well when handling the bill of a swordfish.

Understanding Swordfish Behavior

To learn how to catch swordfish, you should learn the behavior of swordfish. This knowledge will give you an advantage on where to look for them during the day and the night, as well as when the temperature changes or the season changes.

Understanding their migratory patterns, which are influenced by food sources and water temperatures, will help effectively fish for swordfish. You will significantly improve your chances of finding swordfish by studying their movements.

Swordfish usually go to deeper waters during the winter season where they can prey on baitfish that reside in the deep scattering layer. This deep scattering layer is a layer of the ocean, usually at depths of 1,000 to 1,500 feet, where there are a lot of marine life activities happening. Swordfish will be there feeding on squid, baitfish, plankton, crustaceans, and other baits.

Where To Catch Swordfish

Swordfish can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, from California to the Gulf of Mexico, Australia, Venezuela, and the Mediterranean Ocean. However, to be more precise, look for areas where the water temperature, food supply, and structures for cover align.

Find the baitfish, and you will find swordfish. When the baitfish go to deeper water, swordfish will pursue the food supply by going deeper. When the baitfish come closer to them at night, swordfish will come closer to the surface.

Additionally, where you can find structures like rock piles, seamounts, and ledges underwater where baitfish, squid, and other fish can try to seek cover from predators like swordfish, you will also find swordfish there hiding and setting ambush for the baitfish.

Swordfish Fishing Tips
Swordfish Fishing Tips

Best Bait For Swordfish

1. Squid

Squid is a favorite bait used by anglers when targeting swordfish. It can be used as a whole or strips of squid to target swordfish. Many anglers prefer using strips of squid rather than the whole squid.

2. Mackerel

Mackerel works well as bait for swordfish and is used by anglers when fishing for swordfish. Strips of mackerel are preferred by many anglers when fishing for swordfish.

3. Bonito

Bonito is another fish that is used as bait by anglers for catching swordfish.

Swordfish Fishing Ideas
Swordfish Fishing Ideas

4. Herring

Herring is another fish that is used by anglers when targeting swordfish. It works well as a bait for swordfish.

5. Hake

Hake also works well as bait for swordfish and is used by anglers when fishing for swordfish.

6. Sardines

Sardines do a good job as bait for swordfish and is a regular for many anglers.

Swordfish Fishing
Swordfish Fishing

7. Anchovies

Anchovies work well, like sardines and herring, as bait for swordfish.

Best Lures For Swordfish

1. Deep-Diving Plugs

Deep-diving plugs are often used by anglers to mimic the movement of live prey to lure swordfish.

2. Skirts

Skirts, like deep-diving plugs, are also used by anglers to attract swordfish.

How To Catch Swordfish
How To Catch Swordfish

How To Catch Swordfish At Night

Many years ago, it was the general consensus that swordfish could only be caught during the night, and daytime fishing for swordfish wasn’t possible. However, with more fishing technology available and more understanding of the behavior of swordfish, we learn that is not the case.

At night, swordfish come closer to the surface of the water to feed as the baitfish is closer to the surface during the night. You can easily find swordfish at just 300 ft during the night as they prey on baitfish.

During the day, the baitfish will descend to deeper depths like the deep scattering layer which makes swordfish also go to that depth in search of baitfish.

Here’s the kicker: when targeting swordfish, find the baitfish, and you will find swordfish.

1. Trolling

Trolling can also be used to catch swordfish during the night. They are further up the water column in search of baitfish during the night and this may make it easier to target them.

2. Drifting

Drifting is also used to target swordfish during the night. You can drift at 350 feet over inshore humps and canyons. Use squid and other baits while drifting fishing at night. The current in the water at night will determine how you will drift.

Catching Swordfish
Catching Swordfish

Swordfish vs Marlin

 Feature / Characteristic   Swordfish Marlin
Strength Swordfish are stronger than marlin. Not as strong as swordfish.
Bill Larger than that of marlin. Smaller bill.
Dorsal Fin Non-retractable and taller than marlin’s fin. Crest-shaped dorsal fin more streamlined to body.
Eyesight Better eyesight than Marlin. Not as good as swordfish’s.
Body Shape Round elongated body. Tubular smooth body.
Behavior Migrates annually across the sea. Migrates less than swordfish.

Silver and gray in appearance.


Distinct blue top.
Size Smaller than marlin. Larger than swordfish.
Lifespan Swordfish live for 10 years or less. Marlin lives 10 to 20 years.
Taste Flesh is fattier and thicker than marlin; has great taste. Milder flavor than swordfish.
Where It Lives

Lives further below the surface in the deep scattering layer (DSL) usually at depths of 1,000 – 1,500 ft.


Lives in deep tropical oceans.

Swordfish Fishing Tips

  1. If you are fishing for swordfish and are catching squid in an area, then you can be sure that swordfish is the area also preying on squid.

2. Swordfish put up a ferocious fight when hooked and they also have the endurance for a long and intense battle. Be physically and mentally prepared for the fight as the prize is well worth it.

3. Choosing the right gear for swordfish fish is very important to success as it is a large and powerful fish.

4. Use the right bait when fishing for swordfish. Squid, or strips of squid, is one of the most popular baits used by anglers when targeting swordfish. Others are mackerel, bonito, anchovies, herring, sardines, and hake.

Catching Swordfish Tips
Catching Swordfish Tips

5. Monitor the temperature change when fishing for swordfish as their migratory patterns are influenced by the water temperature and food supply.

6. The depth of the water is also another factor to consider when targeting swordfish. They usually reside in deep water as they go after baitfish, squid, plankton, crustaceans, and other food sources in the deep scattering layer. However, they will come closer to the surface when their food supply moves to the surface.

7. Be patient when fishing for swordfish as it may take some time to locate them. Be observant and look for signs of swordfish activity such as jumping or finning.

8. If you are fishing for swordfish and you are finding squid, that is a sign that you are in the right area as swordfish will be preying on squid there also.

9. Bump trolling, deep dropping, drift fishing, and kite fishing are some of the fishing methods you can use when fishing for swordfish.

Tips For Swordfish Fishing
Tips For Swordfish Fishing

10. Look for structures, like ledges, rock piles, and seamounts, under the water that could provide cover for baitfish. Swordfish will be in that area hiding under the structures waiting to ambush baitfish.

11. Swordfish are usually found at the bottom during the day where they feed on baitfish, plankton, and other crustaceans. During the night, you can find them closer to the water’s surface as they go after baitfish that are at the surface of the water during the night.

How To Cook Swordfish

Swordfish is considered a delicacy and have a premium value because of its firm, white flesh that is low in fat and has a mild, sweet flavor. Swordfish can be prepared in a number of ways to bring out its tasty flavor by grilling, baking, or smoking.

What is the best bait for swordfish?
Squid, bonito, mackerel, herring, and hake are some of the best baits for swordfish. Anglers usually use strips of squid and other baits.
How hard is it to catch swordfish?
Catching swordfish is challenging as they are large, fast, powerful, and will put up a ferocious fight for a long period of time. Swordfish fishing will test your fishing skills and requires patience, determination, and bait presentation skills.
What depth should I fish for swordfish?
The depth depends on when you will go swordfish fishing. During the day, they will be close to the bottom where the baitfish resides and you will have to find the depth and go deep. During the night, swordfish will come closer to the water surface to prey on baitfish that are closer to the surface. You can find them within 300 feet of the water’s surface at night.
Where are most swordfish caught?
Swordfish will be around structures such as ledges, rock piles, and seamounts at the bottom in ambush waiting for baitfish that seek cover in those structures. If you target those structures you will increase your chances of finding swordfish.

The Bottom Line

Swordfish is one of the most elusive, powerful, fast, and agile fish sought after by anglers. It is the dream of almost all anglers to catch this behemoth of a fish. Catching a swordfish will definitely test your fishing skills, knowledge of it, test your bait presentation skills, strategy, and patience.

In this article, we discussed how to catch swordfish as well as the fishing methods, the right gear to catch swordfish, the baits and lures, fishing tips, and tricks. You can also read how to catch sailfish and how to catch marlin.