Catching a marlin can be a rewarding experience, followed by being a topic of conversation for a lifetime. However, catching one of these big boys can be a challenging endeavor. Chasing ballyhoo, mullet, and sardines, these large fish spend most of their life in the deep sea and can be found in abundance in the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic. Whether you’re targeting one of these for fun or sport, here’s a how-to guide for catching marlin.

Understanding Marlin

Marlin is a migratory fish and comes in blue, white, black, and striped variations. It is a part of the billfish family, with the blue Marlin being the largest among them. Marlin are considered the pinnacle of the sport fish and are capable of exceeding over one ton, with some achieving two tons in weight. For this, expertise and know-how to fish them matched with sturdy and tried equipment is needed. 

Moreover, Marlin can thrive in both cold and warm water; however, they are found in abundance around the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Hence, it is not a species-specific fish in the US and is found in Australia, Portugal, Costa Rica, the Azores, and Cape Verde to name a few locations. When tracking on a fish finder, look for schools of baitfish, and hungry Marlin should be near the surface close by.


deep sea fishing

Image credits: Nico Smit via Unsplash

Trolling: A form of fishing that drags baited lines behind a boat.

Marlin rig: Marlin rigs will vary, but will consist of an artificial bait with a cable line finished with a curved hook. 

Teasers: An unhooked bait that appears as if it’s a panicked fish to Marlin, enticing them to strike.

Trolling speed: A reduced speed to allow fish to take the line.

Materials Needed:

  • Saltwater rod and high-speed reel combination
  • Braided line or monofilament line
  • Artificial skirted marlin trolling lure
  • Curved hook (sizes 11/0 to 9/0)
  • 900-pound cable line (or leader of similar strength)
  • Abrasion-resistant shrink wrap
  • Ball bearing swivel
  • Teasers

How to Fish For Marlin

Free photos of Fishing

Image credits: barbh230 via Pixabay

Step One: Rod, Reel, and Line

Although outriggers would be the preference for many, there is no harm in setting up your drag behind the boat if you don’t have the luxury of outriggers. With a saltwater rod and reel meant for deep-sea fishing, line with your choice of big game monofilament or braided line. Once finished, you will have a rod and reel with the fishing line awaiting the lure.

Step Two: The Marlin Rig

With the end of the fishing line, feed onto the Marlin lure. Otherwise, if the lure comes pre-feed with a line, attach a leader between the Marlin rig and fishing line. Once completed, attach a ball bearing from the bottom of the skirted trolling eyelet. If possible, try to incorporate double crimped connections if found at local tackle shops, this prevents twists in the line.

Step Three: Cables and Hooks

From the ball bearing swivel, connect the 900 lb cable with the eyelets on each end. Finally, add the curved hook to the end. Although, not necessary to catching Marlin, adding abrasion-resistant shrink wrap over the joints of the swivel and cable connections will make the marlin rig last longer. Secondly, it also adds a splash of color to spot from a distance if brought near the surface of the water.

Step Four: Trolling 

Now it’s time to put the rig into practice. Once your line is set into the water, a vast majority of the work is complete, until you land a behemoth on your line. Alas, trolling can appear as a mundane sort of fishing, yet when trolling for Marlin; speed is crucial. There is no set way or speed at which to troll, and some trial and error will be needed. Furthermore, many variables go into trolling, such as weather and current. A good speed to start at when trolling for Marlin will be around 7.5 mph to 9.0 mph for artificial baits.

Step Five: Teasers

Additionally, anglers may want to consider running a teaser 13 to 20 feet on a chain behind a boat. Teasers appear like startled fish and invite Marlin to get close to the boat and the hooked lures that are running in the water.

That’s a Catch

There you have it, Hook and Bullet’s guide on how to catch a marlin. It’s important to note that this is only a basic trolling method for landing one of these monster fish. There are other alternatives for nabbing one, such as using kite fishing or outriggers, as an example. The next time you are at a crossroads as to which sports fish to target, don’t be intimidated when it comes to Marlin. Keep this guide in mind when preparing to go out on the water and pack the patience.