Swordfish are found in warm, deep parts of the ocean around the world. Anglers often target them because they make a tasty meal and put up quite a fight when caught. The best methods to use to catch them are bottom fishing, drifting, and night fishing.

How to identify Swordfish

The swordfish is the largest of the broadbill fish species. It smooth, flat and has sword-like bills. It uses its bill to kill prey and defend against predators. The dorsal and pectoral fins of the swordfish are non-retractable. There is large caudal keel on either side of the caudal peduncle just before the tail.

swordfish identification diagram

Coloring along the back and sides of the swordfish varies from shades of browns, grays, blues, and even purple, while their underbelly is typically a dirty white or light brown.

Adult swordfish lack scales and ventral fins. These are massive fish. When fully mature, they can reach over 12 feet in length and 1,000 pounds.

Identifying characteristics:

  1. Long, wide sword-like upper bill
  2. Large eyes
  3. First dorsal fin tall and rigid
  4. Back is brown to purple color
  5. Underbelly white to light brown
  6. Keel on sides of caudal peduncle
  7. Lack pelvic fins, scales and teeth

Where to catch Swordfish

Swordfish are found around the globe in warm waters at depths of 3,000 feet or more. Females generally prefer cooler, deeper water along coral banks and canyons. During spawning, female swordfish are often seen in warm water, where the males prefer to stay. These fish are solitary and migratory.

Range: Northeast, South
Swordfish Fishing Map

The following are habitats where you can catch Swordfish:

How to catch Swordfish

The best technique for catching them during the day is bottom fishing. At night, trolling or drifting can be very effective for catching swordfish. Another effective method to try is saltwater trolling. Anglers should look for swordfish in deep water near underwater canyons and valleys. At night swordfish can be captured by drift fishing at 350 feet over inshore humps and canyons. Peak fishing season for swordfish is during the fall. Swordfish are skittish of moving boats. Their fins sometimes stick out of the water when they float near the surface looking for warmth, which can make them an easy target for watchful anglers. They normally won’t strike at bait unless it’s repeatedly put before them. Hooking them can be challenging because they have soft mouths. To compensate, anglers should drag lower. Before an angler can fish for one of these behemoths, they must first obtain a special permit for highly migratory species.

Drift fishing during the night using natural bait, such as whole squid, is an effective method for catching Swordfish. If you want to improve your catch rate, add a small light stick just above the hook.

The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching Swordfish:

Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch Swordfish

Live baits, such as squid, bonito, Spanish mackerel, eel, mullet, herring, and tuna work well for catching swordfish. Improve your catch rate by adding a lightstick to the line just above the hook.

The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch Swordfish: