Highly sought after by anglers due to their blazing fast speed, clocking in at 110 to 112 kph, their acrobatic jumps, and distinct dorsal fins, the Sailfish is a solid contender for top place in anyone’s fishing hit list. Let’s learn more about this wonderful species.
Speedsters of the Ocean
The sailfish (Isthiophorus platypterus) has one of the most distinct dorsal fins on any fish in the ocean. With a sail like dorsal fin that can be taller than the length of their bodies, it is hard to mistake this fish for any other.
Categorized as a bill fish due to their long upper jaw, these speedy predators, with the wahoo are arguably the fastest fish in the sea. They use their bills as a spear to strike and stun their prey before devouring them.
Usually seen feeding on the surface, they provide anglers with a highly visual hit and offer them an acrobatic battle with insane jumps while trying to get rid of the hook. A true spectacle to the eyes of the anglers who get them hooked.
Sails are a fast growing fish that can reach weights up to 100kg or 3.3m in length and as a result of their speedy growth and redline lifestyle, they only average 4 – 5 years of life.
Sails are truly great sportfish. Apart from the awesome hits and battles, they have little value in the commercial fishing industry, compared to tuna, marlin and other pelagics, allowing them to have stable numbers worldwide.
Where to Find Them
Sailfish are distributed throughout temperate and tropical waters worldwide. With some of the best game-fishing coastlines in the world, offering volcanic walls, drop-offs and pinnacles, Vanuatu houses a healthy population of sailfish among other hard pulling pelagic predators.
The Ocean Blue team has gained decades of experience in finding and hooking up to these beautiful pelagic predators, allowing you to fish with utmost confidence without worrying about anything else.
Frequent locales vary depending on the underwater structure present in certain locations, but schools of sailfish will visit the same spots where bait usually group in schools. A perfect example would be in Kuala Rompin, Malaysia, where the bay is a breeding ground for the local anchovy population.
There are no specific locations to pinpoint when chasing sailfish as they are highly pelagic and move frequently to find food. A general rule to follow is to locate bait schools. Looking for diving birds are one way to locate bait schools and may hold sails as well as other feeding predators.
Sailfish Fishing Techniques
The most popular method of hooking up to sailfish is the bait and switch technique. The crew deploys a spread of teasers ranging from daisy chains, flashers, plugs and baited skirts to help tease up the targeted fish.
Teasers imitate a school of bait and the surface commotion caused by the spread of teasers attract not only sailfish but even other saltwater predators that may be around the area.
The angler will have a live bait or fresh bait rigged on a separate live bait outfit ready to go. The captain or skipper are the “eyes” of the boat and the angler will be the “hands” so stay ready and wait for the skippers’ instruction.
Once the skipper gives the go signal, drop your live bait back until the captain instructs you to stop. It is recommended to leave your reel in free spool and use your thumb to stop the line from running out. You will see the fish take your bait or swipe at it with their bills a few times and the line will naturally run out from under your thumb.
A 3 – 5 second wait before engaging the clutch of the reel and tightening your line will produce more successful hooksets as the delay allows the sailfish to engulf the bait fully in its mouth. Remember that sails hit prey with their bills first before devouring them.
In certain locations such as Malaysia, they are so dense in number that rarely are there days where you don’t see several free-swimming schools of sails breaking the surface. These locations allow anglers to utilize their favorite topwater fishing techniques using poppers and stickbaits.
Fly anglers get their sailfish fix in Malaysia too as sight fishing is in abundance and teasing them close to the boats with topwater plugs are another highly practiced technique over there.