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Swordfish Rigging

6891 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Skipjack
I copied this, it is avery good source of info though.

Boat rigging:

You will need a seaworthy boat, either chartered or owned, All running lights need to be in working order; Port, Starboard, and Stern lights. These lights are mandatory and very important since there are shipping lanes in our fish zone. You must be able to identify and be identified when you're on the water at night. Knowledge of vessel lights is important so as to avoid a collision course. Keep all loose articles either tied down or in a locker as you make the long run offshore. Always do manual checks on your bile pumps. I take a hose and start filling up the bilge. If your float switches are working the bilge pumps will come on automatically and you're ready to roll.

Fishing line:

800 yards of 50 pound test should get most jobs done. Most guys are going with the braided lines which have a smaller diameter than monofilament does and have double the strength. As an example we have used 200 lb. braided Tuff line which has a diameter of 50 lb. test mono, therefore we can spool over 1000 yards on to a Penn 80TW. This might sound overkill but I like to fish all my rods ready for that 400 pounder.


50 weight reels such as Finore, Penn, and Shimano's 2-speed are the preferred minimum. If you size down you take a risk of getting spooled or the drag might not hold up against the pressure. It can be done but it takes good skill. The Broadbill Swordfish has been known to reach over 1000 pounds, but more common in the 100-200 pound range.


A nice short stick in the 50 -80 pound class is an awesome rod. A bent butt rod is my choice for handling a big fish. Extra large Aftco roller guides are some of the best guides to have and play an important role when line strips off the reel. They help to keep your wind-ons from getting damaged.


To start, wind-on leaders should be used and can be purchased at most offshore tackle shops. They help when your fish comes close to the boat and does not want to cooperate. The extra length of heavy mono will safeguard your line when it chafes on the bottom of your boat or goes around the props. A 40 turn bimini needs to be tied to the end of your main line, then connect the loop that is on your wind-on to the loop on your bimini by taking your wind-on loop and insert it through your bimini. Then take the tag end of your wind-on leader and pass it through the wind-on loop 2 times, then pull tight. Next you need to connect a 300 lb. strength ball-bearing swivel or better to the end of the wind-on using a crimp that matches your line strength. I use 300 pound leaders with the crimps to match and also chaffing gear to reduce any wear and tear to the leader connections. Now you need to connect 8-10 feet of the same strength leader to the other end of the ball-bearing swivel. Don't forget the chaffing gear.


You are near the final stages. Size 10/0 Mustad hooks are the average and are worthy. The following are 2 single hook rigs: The first one is easy and used for live bait. Just crimp your hook, (use chaffing gear) to the end of the leader. Keep your loops small as you crimp the hook, but big enough so that the hook swings freely. Live baits should be bridled through the eye sockets and not through the eyeballs. I use 50 pound strength wax line with an open eye needle for bridling. Then I insert the hook upwards under the bridle. The 2nd rig is a squid rig. It is almost like the first except you use 2 crimps. Pass the first crimp through the tag end so it slides freely then crimp your 2nd one the same way as the live bait rig, only this time leave about 2 inches of the tag end pass through the crimp. Next take your medium to large squid and insert the hook about ¾ of an inch down from the top of the mantle and pull through past your crimp and extra tag line. Then take your free moving crimp and bring it down and insert that extra tag line into the crimp, but do not crimp down on it. This will hold up your squid as if on a coat hanger. Then you will need to re-insert the hook back through the squid making sure the squid hangs straight when all is finished. Next take your bridling needle and floss and sow the squids head and tentacle section to the mantle piece. This section is delicate on the squid and might even pull off. Making sure everything looks normal to the fish is important. Using the needle and thread will make the squid stay intact on the strike.


As you prepare to deploy your lines you will need a supply of 12-32 oz weights, light sticks, balloons and rubber bands. The first line to be set out will be the furthest from the boat and also the deepest, 250-350 feet deep. First things first, crack your light stick or twist your Electralume and attach it to your leader with a wax line loop tied on your line anywhere from 10-40 feet away from the bait. Then rig your bait as we did earlier. Throw your bait overboard and go at least 20-50 feet behind the bait to attach your weight by using another wax line loop. Make this connection tight so the weight does not slide around the line. The heavier the weight the faster your bait pulls through the water. Heavier weights for dead baits like Squid, Bonita and small Mackerel and lighter weights for live bait like Blue Runners, goggle eyes, Tinkers etc. Set your first jug or balloon far from the boat, at least 200 feet away with a cylume attached for a good visual. You're ready for rod # 2. This rod will go 2-250 feet down, then attach your balloon or jug and set this line in between the boat and the furthest balloon. Space the balloons about 100 feet apart. Your next rod will go down 150-200 feet. To avoid all the counting I will pre-measure my lines at home and mark them by tying half hitches with wax line. This way when you deploy your lines, just let out the line slowly until you reach your marker. This last rod does not need a balloon, it is fished right below the boat. If you use more rods you need to set your first balloon further from the boat, and perhaps a 2nd rod at the boat, one on the bow, one on the stern. It is a good idea to get an under water light that can be kept right under the transom. This light will attract fish, and you can see passing Turtles, Dolphin and other baits come right into the light looking for something to eat and sometimes even a Swordfish will swim through. Prior to all the rigging, the most important part is to set your drags. With 50 pound line, 8-10 pounds of drag is sufficient at the strike drag position. With heavier lines, 12 pounds of drag is more than enough. The lower jaw on the Swordfish is very soft and if a hook gets lodged in that section it will pull when under enough pressure. If the hook gets lodged in the upper section you can use more drag, but you never know where he's hooked so stay light on the drag and bring that fish to the boat. Shimano's drag scales are a great tool for measuring your drags. Your final step is to tune your drag levers after you deploy each line. Some Captains prefer to keep their drag lever in the strike position I prefer to keep them loose with the clickers on, just enough so you don't hear the line pay out when the waves lift the boat up and down. You are now Sword fishing! Remember there is a size limit of 47 inches from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. There is nothing wrong with releasing fish bigger than 47 inches either. Sinking a gaff into a fish near 200 pounds or better is a much better accomplishment. If you would like to see it all firsthand contact Captain Cary Hanna @ [email protected] to take you out for this deep sea adventure. Captain Cary Hanna is a USCG certified boat captain. He runs his charter boat, the 'New Lattitude' out of the Port Everglades inlet in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. and has logged over 200 trips fishing for Swordfish. The Captains' boat is a custom rigged 2004 32 foot Donzi center console powered with twin 225 hp Mercury Optimax's. To reserve a charter or ask any questions about this article call 954-907-0967.

Till Next Tide,

Captain Cary Hanna

Florida Fishing Charters

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After fishing for them off Miami, I would highly suggest using 80's. Many offshore anglers will attest that finding and hooking swords is the easy part ...successfully landing them is a different story. Most anglers like myself tha are used to tuna fishing with heavy drags end up pulling the hooks due to thier soft mouths. This is fustrating to say the least, most of the good capatins use 12-15# of drag and then allow the angler to slow the spool down with your hand

On that not it is imperative that you fish with light drags therefore the fish will make long sustained runs which dicatates line capacity. A 100# fish will easily dump a 50 in short time, they are without a doubt the hardest fighting fish I have ever caught and I dropped a 200# slob at the boat by putting too much heat on him during the end game and watched him mock me by fliping his big a** tail as he disapeared into the darkness. Patience is key, slow and steady wins the race

**Live bait is key, every trip I have been on the swords hit the livies

I fell in love with swording, watching a lightstick race across the surface is awesome in the darkness.

here are some of our pictures from Miami two months ago these were both Anthonys fish, i lost my big boy


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Nice fish Gman. What part of Miami you run out of?
cool name by the way, I actually live in New Jersey, I just go to Miami frequently to swordfish and sailfish. They have an amazing fishery down there for swords becuase they shut down the longliners. They guy I fish with just landed a 420 last week.

Imagine this...all of the fishing is done withing sight of land only 12 miles of the coast on the 50 line.

And where there are swords ...my best friend is swimming, the Mako Shark. The night we were fishing the boat next to us had 3 swords to 150# and free gaffed a 300# Mako. It was insane
The fact that makes south florida so goood for swords is you can run 12 miles in a 21ft bay boat and catch em. The one we caught last week was landed a cool 80 miles from shore.
Do you have any pics of that rigging? Its very wordy...Kind of difficult to see without having that stuff in your hands or without a pic.
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