Black Marlin are found almost entirely in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In tropical areas distribution is scattered but continuous in open waters; denser in coastal areas and near islands. Black marlin have been known to migrate great distances. The black marlin is the only marlin, regardless of size, whose pectoral fins is rigid and cannot be folded flat up against the body without breaking the joints. The pectoral fins also have an airfoil shape, whereas those of other marlin are flat. The ventral fins are extremely short, almost never exceeding 12 inches in length. The first dorsal fin is retractable and fits into a groove along the back; it is proportionately the lowest of any billfish, usually less than 50 percent of the body depth. The leading edge of the second dorsal fin sits slightly in front of the second anal fin. The lateral line, which is rarely visible in adults, is a straight double row of pores.
Its body is laterally compressed, rather than rounded – much more so than in the similar-size blue marlin, and the upper jaw is elongated in the form of a spear. Dorsally, the body is a dark slate blue, but this coloring changes suddenly to a silvery white below the lateral line. Light-blue body stripes are usually visible on live marlin, especially when the fish is excited; these fade after death. Slight variations in color cause some specimens to have a silvery haze over the body. Very strong and exceptionally fast, Black Marlin feed on squid and pelagic fishes including tuna and dolphin. They spawn in the Northern Pacific from May to August. Blacks exceeding 300 pounds are almost always females; a 500-pound male is a rarity.
To be successful at targeting Marlin you need the right teasing equipment as well as fly tackle. As most Marlin do their fighting in a spectacular airborne manner as well as sounding you are going to need a rod with plenty of lifting power. Match the rod with a high quality large arbor reel with a smooth drag that has the capacity to handle a large amount of backing and you are half way there.
Intermediate-tip, sink-tip or full sink fly lines all work well in different conditions. The important things to remember is never use a shooting-head, always use a full length line. The reason for this being, as the fish takes the fly you should allow it time to turn before setting the hook. In order to do so you have to give the fish a little time and line before striking. With all this going on you don’t want to end up with backing or braided running line in your hand while trying to set the hook as it will cut to the bone. Secondly, the fish will tire far quicker whilst tail-walking and dragging the fly line around. A full length fly line creates more drag and will allow you to beat the fish quicker and reduce its stress before releasing it.
When teasing the FlyCastaway guides have found that trolling skirts or softheads in Black and red, hot pink, green and chartreuse or blue and white with a belly-shine works best. As the Marlin will mouth the teaser while you entice it closer to the boat, the fishy taste of the bait will bring a “hotter Marlin” to the boat and allow you more time to get your cast in. Please note that the switch should be way quicker than that done when fishing for Sailfish.
Combine all this with one teaser being trolled on the starboard outrigger (rigger line), a second teaser (flat line) in the third to fifth wake on the port side and a bird and daisy chain (teaser line) on a cord slightly starboard from the of the middle of the boat. The rigger line should be further out than the flat line and the teaser line shorter than the rigger line. The optimum speed will vary between 9 and 10 knots depending on sea conditions and current speeds.
As Marlin are largely a migratory species it is very important to know when these fish will be in your area. Working to structure like drop-offs, pinnacles and entrances to atoll lagoons while concentrating on bird life and baitfish chases will often prove successful.
- Fly Rod: Quick action 15 weight fly rod.
- Reel & Backing: A large good quality saltwater series reel loaded with 800 or more meters of 50 60 lbs braid. A Bimini Twist to Double Surgions should be tied into the braid, following which the fly line and backing should be joined using the loop to loop method.
- Fly Lines: Billfish intermediate tip, 450 to 600 grains or any sink-tip line with 50lbs braided loops nail knotted on both ends.
- Leaders: 100 – 120 lbs Fluorocarbon or Monofilament Shock. We prefer to always choose heavier class tippets as to reduce the fighting time and stress on the fish.
- Knots: Fly to leader – Improved Homer Rhode or Perfection Loop; Leader to Braided loop – Perfection Loop. NB mono has a stretch factor and a tendency to slip before seating. When tying your knots make sure you leave a tag and seat them properly with the use of pliers. In saying this ensure you do not stress the knot.
- Flies: Cam Seigler’s or Large Flashy Profile’s on tubes with tandum rigged hooks. Flies tied in hot pink and white or Chartreuse, green and white have consistently been the most successful.
- Sunglasses: Dark amber or blue mirror grey lenses.
Before leaving on your trip you will be briefed in detail by the FlyCastaway guides as to exactly what fly patterns you are going to need and how you should prepare your tackle. For all our destinations we have compiled a comprehensive tackle list.