How to catch Marlin

Marlin are the pinnacle of game fish to catch. This reputation also is associated with super expensive tackle and million dollar game boats. However, Marlin can be caught in relatively affordable trailer boats without the need to break the bank on tackle either.

We will go through the basics of what you need to consider when preparing to catch your first bill fish.


Marlin travel the currents in search of bait. On the west coast of Australia, they are found in the Leeuwin current which spans from the north west right along the coast to south of Perth. Marlin have been caught from the back of Rottnest island, but are more commonly targeted and found further north from the Abrolhos Island up to Exmouth. Although the current is normally strongest in the deeper waters (100m+), Marlin have been known to come inshore and have been seen in waters less than 30m.

On the east coast they have been caught in Victorian waters, but it’s not common. The real bite comes from the southern NSW coast all the way to far north Queensland. These large pelagics follow the bait balls and can cover 1000’s of km’s in a year.

A useful resource for anybody chasing pelagics is the sea surface temperature graphs. This will show you where the currents are flowing and give you some idea on where the bait might be.


The most common error people make when targeting bigger fish is using the heaviest hooks and terminal tackle as they can find. The problem with this is that heavy hooks need a heavy rod and line to match, and enough drag to allow the hooks to set. Most people will find that their day to day fishing tackle cannot handle the stresses that these big hooks put on the gear.

The best way to work out the hooks needed are to start with your line class and reel drag rating. We have caught marlin with snapper outfits when using this approach.

We are working on a few preferred rigs and rod / reel combos to help take the guesswork out of getting started. You don’t always need to spend mega bucks ether.


There are a few main ways people go about catching marlin. The most common are;

– trolling skirted lures
– trolling swim/skip baits
– trolling lures with no hooks for switch baiting with a live bait

All three methods can produce fish and all may have there day when they out perform the other methods.

Those new to game fishing, its a good idea to start with some quality lures and focus on getting a god spread and practice using teasers. There is a lot that goes on once a fish is hooked, so its a good idea to have a game plan. Who is on strike, who is driving the boat, who is pulling in the teaser and other lines? These are all things that need to be sorted out in advance. There is nothing worse than having your spool emptied by a big marlin while you try decide who’s going to grab the rod.

Marlin are fast a fight hard. It is important to set he drag properly and not be tempted to increase it during the early stages of a fight. Too much drag will cause you to break line and pull hooks!

Be prepared to fight a marlin for some time and don’t be afraid to chase it with the boat. With trailer boats its best to fight from the side of the boat and drive forwards. Just be careful to keep a good angle on the fish and not run over the line.

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