How to Catch Marlin: Marlin Fishing Tips [2022 Update]


Updated on September 5, 2022 by

Smoked marlins are one of the best delicacies from around the world. And they taste even more delicious when you have spent hours catching them yourself. These fishes are one of the largest aquatic animals in the sea, not to mention that they are extremely fast and intelligent. 

So, it is best to go prepared with the best gears and equipment, as well as a few marlin fishing tips to save you some energy and time in the ocean. Hopefully, it will help you get some action in the little time you have managed to find amid your busy schedules. 

We’ll help you choose the right lures, baits, rigs, boats, and sea destinations anywhere in the world before you start fishing. So, let’s get started! 

Best Lures and Baits for Blue Marlin Fishing 

The key identifier of a Marlin is its long, sword-like upper jaw which they use to stun and catch fish. So, if you are looking for lures, you need to find ones that strongly resemble fleeing baitfish or squid so that it entices these predator species to strike.  

These are some of the best marlin baits of offshore anglers: 

  1. Mold Craft Wide Range 

This is a popular choice, and you’ll probably see it in every boat that you board. It has a squared-off nose and a center hole that helps it remain stable in different speeds and conditions. They come in striking colors, such as purple/silver/black, and have a sharp bite that will give you a run for your money. 

You can put it in flat lines or short riggers on a single- or double-hooked rig to successfully catch a blue marlin or striped marlin, no matter how rough the water gets.  

  1. Mold Craft Super Chugger 

This lure is only 8 and ¼ inches long, but just like its name suggests, it can pretty much snatch anything. Blue, black, and striped marlin, Pacific sailfish, a massive yellowfin tuna, it works on everything. 

This universal lure is available in blue/white/yellow combo with a concave face to entice the lure in closer. It has a regular bounce to it that drives predator species, like black and blue marlin and striped marlin, insane. 

The fishes try to grab onto the lure’s face and pull, which remains surprisingly stable in heavy current and different ranges of trolling speed. 

  1. Tournament Tackle’s Ilander Lure or Hawaiian Eye 

The Ilander is probably the first lure that comes into mind whenever an angler thinks about marlin fishing. It has a record for catching double the blue marlin on the Atlantic oceans coast more than other lures and is basically idiot-proof, even for the most amateur anglers. 

The lure, with its fixed nylon skirts and realistic eyes, performs exceptionally well at a high trolling speed. Many anglers like having blue/white Ilanders in hand for white marlin fishing on the East Coast. 

  1. Copa Fishing Lures’ Tado 

These lures are bright and colorful and could be easily mistaken for something else. They are handmade by the creator, Steve Coggin, who also likes to use real shell inserts. The name is a play on the Hawaiian word ‘otado, which stands for skipjack over 10 pounds.  

Tado baits are big and can catch a blue marlin of 700-1200 pounds easily! 

  1. Marlin Magic Ruckus 

If you ask top captains for their favorite lures, the Magic Ruckus will make their way into most lists. It carries a lot of air when diving down and then releases them like a white bubble bomb. 

The lure has a softer slant which makes it easy to secure on a rig and run. You need to learn to match the hatch to get the best versatility and productivity out of it. The purple/black ones work well for skipjack, while the green and blue ones are great for catching mackerel. 

These are only a few of the best lures to catch marlin and other species, and there are many more options available. 

Besides artificial lures, you can also use live baits or rig a dead bait if you just want to use the real thing instead. With these techniques, you can fish anywhere you want, such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and of course, in any coast and sport-fishing ocean city in the US. 

Fishing Techniques Using Dead-Bait 
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Fishing requires a good foundation. Using live baits or natural baits depends on your preference. Instead of panicking when a fish approaches or there is a bite, calmly grab the rod and conventional reel before proceeding into the free-spool where you need to perform a drop-back. 

Remember to eye the line to plan your next steps. If it hangs loose and in waves from the rod tip, leave it be. But if it is pulled taut and straight, then decrease the pressure as needed. You can begin with a four- or five-count drop-back.  

If the bite is not too strong, you need to slightly delay locking it in. On the other hand, you would need to work fast if the bite is too aggressive. And instead of pushing the drag lever straight head, slide it upwards to have the circle hook settle in the mouth. 

You can use a fighting chair and fighting belt to stay comfortable. Here are a few things you can do for the following scenarios while blue marlin fishing:  

Come up Empty-handed 

There are two reasons for this to happen. Either the bait was not properly secured or was missed completely, or the fish bit out the bait, leaving you only the head on the hook. But don’t worry if that happens, for you can always go for a follow-up. 

Hold the rod tip up to see if you have some bait left. If there is, it will bob a little on the surface. Change to free spool right away but keep your fingers ready to go in again. You can stay on the same spot or wind up slightly. And if there is no bait, just put another one. 

Catch More Than You Planned 

It is not uncommon for more fish to jump in from somewhere out of the blue. Therefore, you can have multiple shots with high chances of scoring. Remember to pull back the bait through the spread to catch unsuspecting bites. 

Backlash 

Backlashes are unfortunate but not unavoidable. This happens when you are in-free reel and lose control of your reel. Instead of panicking, scream “backlash” loud enough to capture your captain’s attention. 

The skipper would help gain better control by going into reverse if the spread is beneath the vessel. Just try your best and wind back with all you have got. You will also need to apply drag pressure as soon as possible instead of remaining in the free spool. It will help secure those loops when the line has come off the reel.  

Protect Your Thumbs – and Keep Them Off 

Try to avoid backlashes as much as possible. Do not try to play a tug-of-war because you might have to give in. Just do good drop-back and use the drag lever. 

Trolling Speed 

You don’t need to have too high a trolling speed, as your bait and lures might work effectively. Usually, 8.5-9.5 knots are optimal to cover the water and distance, but you can always adjust the trolling speed as you need.  

Always be prepared for the next shot, and remember to stay mobile. And if you have come across a stubborn fish who does not want to move, do a full turn of the reel handle or even a half-one to get its head up.  

Rig Tips to Catch Marlins 

An angler aiming to catch a blue or black marlin should opt for live baits. They may help catch a score to break the record of the largest blue marlin caught. 

And for white marlin, a circle hook works best. With these tips, an angler can catch fish anywhere from the Caribbean Islands to Cape Verde using a rod and a reel. 

These are the steps you can follow for a white marlin or blue marlin fishing:  

Step 1: Insert the Dacron Loop 

Gently hold the bait upside down. Take a split-eye rigging needed and poke the area between the eye socket and the head using a Dacron loop.  

Step 2: Loop over the Hook 

Pull the needle all the way through and remove the needle. Then, circle the Dacron around the hook.  

Step 3: Tighten the Extra Bits 

Spin and twist the hook to pull in the extra bits.  

Step 4: Ride the Hookup 

Still holding the bait upside down, pass the hook under the bridle in one smooth motion so that the point faces up. That’s it, the bait is ready to go on the rod.  

How to Recognise Different Marlins? 

Marlins come in four varieties: blue, black, striped, and white marlin. And it can be very easy for an angler to mix them up and get confused since it is impossible to distinguish them by color alone. 

 Blue Marlin Black Marlin White Marlin Striped Marlin 
Dorsal Fin The front fin is pointed and is never as high as the max body depth Pectoral fins aren’t rigid but can be folded back Broad and rigid pectoral fins that do not lie flat Low dorsal fins compared to body depth Rounded first dorsal, pectoral, and anal fins Maximum height of the first dorsal is more than body depth Pointed front dorsal higher than body depth Flexible pectoral fins Pointed pectoral with anal fins 
Color Cobalt blue that slowly transitions to white; Pale blue stripes may disappear after death Dark blue on dorsal sides that give away to silvery white Lighter in color than other Marlin cousins; Slightly greenish Lean body with compressed sides 
Body Cylindrical shape Bill and body are proportionately shorter Leaner with spots on the underside, first dorsal as well as anal fins Highly visible pale blue vertical stripes 
This table explains the physical differences between types of marlins

How to Choose the Best Destinations? 

In some areas, Marlins are only available during specific seasons, and even that varies from species to species. Marlin species prefer warm waters, so you can look for destinations with moderate and temperate climates.  

Pacific oceans around Hawaii are a good place to start as they are filled with abundant Blue Marlins. Anglers of any skill level can catch them with rod and reel quite easily. 

Just place the long riggers on the 5th wave and the short riggers on the one before. Top captains hailing from the western town of Kona are also experts at catching Marlins.  

Mexico, from late March through July, is also a prime fishing spot for Blue and White Marlin, alongside other Billfish. Even though they are slightly smaller in size, they still pack enough punch. The Canary Islands is also one of the ultimate places. 

Fishing ports around Australia, especially on the east coast, are regularly packed with great fishing charters. Sydney, Cairns, Port Stephens, Gold Coast, etc., are some of the best areas. Its neighboring country, New Zealand, also offers some great locations. 

Central America and the West Coast of Africa, especially Cape Verde, is a hotspot as well. With the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Caribbean Sea on the west, Grenada is also an excellent place to fish for black marlin. And, of course, the Gulf Stream near the US East Coast is there as well.  

Final Words 

With the right marlin fishing tips and tricks, and the best gears, soon, a fishing trip will be your preferred way to enjoy your off time. These tips can also help you during competitions, giving you all the advantages that you could ask for while maintaining tournament rules. 

Hopefully, these can help you catch a big fish and win legendary status as an angler. There is no right or wrong way to fish because if you know the basics, you can always get a score. 


Photo of author

Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.