Striped Marlin (Tetrapturus audax)

The body of the Striped Marlin is elongate and compressed. The upper jaw is much extended, forming a rounded spear. The striped marlin has a dark steely blue back that is lined with dark cobalt blue or lavender stripes, fading to a silvery white underside. The striped marlin has the most pronounced vertical line markings, hence the name. Generally there are fourteen to twenty prominent lavender blue vertical stripes from the true gill plate to the caudal peduncle. The first dorsal fin at its highest point is from 75% to a 100% of the body depth, measured at that point on the body, with the length going back to almost the second dorsal fin. The striped marlin’s dorsal fin is generally higher in its total height than other marlin species. The dorsal fin has many dark black to purplish-black spots scattered throughout with a light purplish or violet blue background. The anterior part of the dorsal is pointed like the blue marlin. The second dorsal is slightly posterior to the second anal fin and is also pointed. The pectoral fins of the striped are pointed, fold easily against the body and “light up” to a very brilliant lavender to purple. Striped marlin pectoral fins are generally straight, with a slight curve on the bottom. The spear of the marlin is sometimes used as a weapon for defense and as an aid in capturing food. When it uses its bill in capturing food, the striped marlin sometimes stuns its prey by slashing sideways with the spear rather than impaling its victim, as some believe. Females are reported to reach first maturity at 50-80 lb.; it is not possible to determine onset of sexual maturity in males because change in the size of testes is slight. Largest recorded Striped Marlin to date is 494lbs.Striped Marlin occur in tropical and warm temperature waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans (21 – 30 C). Most of the striped marlin wander in the ocean alone, but, as with all marlin when breeding, they may be in pairs or schools. The food of striped marlin is predominately fishes, squid, crabs and shrimp. The latter three make up lesser portions of the diet than do fish.

Techniques

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.

Tackle

  • 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.

Destinations 

Seychelles – CosmoledoProvidence, Astove and Farquhar Atolls
Mauritius – St Brandons
Kenya – Manda Bay and Kingfisher
Principe – Sao Tome
Madagascar