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Swordfishing Techniques For South Florida

Author: Double Threat Charters (Alumni)

Tips For Swordfishing 

 (Knowledge From 100's Of Trips)

Swordfish are one of our favorite fish to target because they are not only LB for LB  the strongest billfish, but they are also one of the most challenging fish to catch. After too many swordfish trips to remember here is some advice we have. 

"A rule of thumb for swordfish is that the battle will be an hour per 100Lbs. "

Hooked Up!
We exclusively fish Bullbuster braid for daytime swordfishing.

A rule of thumb for swordfish is that the battle will be an hour per 100Lbs.  To make matters worse with swords have very soft mouths so even though they are strong you cannot put  too much drag on them (We have hooked several monsters and fought them for hours, only to have them pull the hook). It took us many trips to hone in the techniques that consistently catch us more swordfish. 

Big Daytime Swordfish
Capt. Brent with a 300LB+ daytime sword. This was part of a daytime swordfish streak where we caught 8 swords in 6 trips.

The Fish

"Swordfish follow what scientist call a diurnal migration (They migrate twice a day). "

Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) are arguably the ultimate gamefish in South Florida.  There has been a great rebound of these fish since  longlining was banned in 2000 made the recreational fishing for them top notch.  There have been some swordfish buoy permits allowed in recent years but the fishery seems to still hold a lot of fish. Swordish are famous for eating squid but they eat just about anything they can find.  This includes mahi, bonitas, ribbon fish, and a number of  other crazy looking deepwater fish and even deep water crustaceans. 

Heading Out Swordfishing

(Check Out This Article To Learn How To Grill Up Your Swordfish)

Open up the stomach of the next swordfish you catch and you will be surprised to see how much these things eat everyday. Swordfish eat so much because, like mahi they grow at  insane speeds and start mating early. Swordfish start to reproduce when they are about 4 years old and a 150Lbs. The biggest swords you catch are females, while the males tend to stay smaller. 

Pumpki Swordfish
Above is the meat of a large "Pumpkin" swordfish we caught while daydropping. Swordfish that eat lots of crustaceans get this orange hue and are tasty as hell.

 Swordfish follow what scientist call a diurnal migration (They migrate twice a day).  During the day swordfish spend there time feeding on the bottom, and at night they follow the squid up to the surface to feed on squid and fish who are following up plankton.  This daily migrations means that there are two very different ways to fish for swordfish during the day and at night. 

Swordfish Migrations
This graph shows the behavior of a satellite tagged swordfish. The white squiggly line shows the swordfish at the bottom during the day and up at night. The colors show the water temp differences. What we find most interesting is that on some graphs we have seen like this the swordfish spend some time in the middle of the water column (both in the early morning and late afternoon) which has interesting fishing implications.

The Techniques

Fishing For Swords At Night

While nighttime swordfishing we usually drift a mixture of 4-6 squids as well as live baits (blue runners, speedos, goggle eyes) in the top 300 feet of the water column. On nights when the moon is full we tend to fish on the deeper end of that spectrum.  On new moons, we tend to get more hits towards the surface.  

  We use 300Lb Bullbuster Grander Leader  to make our rigs, because the sharp bill of a swordfish can create a lot of where and tear on anything less tenacious. Although the average swordfish is about 90 pounds, we sometimes get shots at fish over 500 pounds so we never use any reels lighter than a 50w.

On our 50lb class combos, we like to use 750 yards of 80lb yellow Bullbuster braid as backing. On top we have about 400 yards of 80 pound Bullbuster high-vis monofilament connected to a clear  Bullbuster wind-on leader. Even though we are only using 50 wides, the way we spool them gives us additional backbone if we hook up to a monster without sacrificing line capacity

(See This Article On Spooling Your Swordfish Reels)

While the night time bite for swords is not entirely as consistent as daytiming has been for us in the past few years, we definitely get a good amount of bycatch, like sharks, mahi, and an occasional triple tail that can swim up in the lights while we are waiting for a hit. 

(See This Article To Learn More About Making Night Time Swordfishing Rigs)

Daytime Swordfishing

"The goal is to stay on top of the line to keep it straight up and down, and to be able to see the hit. "

Daytime Swordfishing Techniques
Capt. Brent watches the tip for even the slightest hint of a bite. It is very important to be attentative to your rod, thanks to Brent's sharp eyes our hookup ratio has improved ten-fold.

Daytime swordfishing is one of the most demanding fisheries on your equipment and your crew but when you get the technique down there can be a big payoff.

(Check Out This Article To Learn How To Rig Swordfish Baits)

The technique involves bottom fishing in 1500-2000 feet of water with 10lbs -15 Lbs of lead. We have the Gulf Stream to contend with off Miami which typically flows at 2-4 knots and can make  making even a 15lb lead inadequate without the correct line, crew, and captain. 

Use This Comprehensive Guide To Night Time Swordfishing:

 The goal is to stay on top of the line to keep it straight up and down, and to be able to see the hit.  The captain's job is to keep the boat straight on top, the mate's job is to watch the line and communicate with the captain, and the Bullbuster braids job is to cut through the water to make both of their lives easier. 

Rigging For Daytime Swordfish Mobile
We connect our LP to a battery within a cooler which helps us be more mobile while fighting the fish, and be ready to fish on any boat regardless of the electrical rigging.

  We  usually drop with an LP electric reel instead of a manual rig, not because we are not in it for the sport, but because to fish properly, you need to bring your bait up and down to make multiple drops.  This is not just a sit and wait game like most people think.  Daytime swordfishing takes great coordination between the captain and the mate. 

 Before braided lines became available, targeting swordfish during the day was essentially futile.  We actually keep two spools of Bullbuster braid handy for our LP at all times.  One spool has 2500 yds of 65Lb Bullbuster braid and the spool has 2500 yds of 80lb Bullbuster braid. 

Green Sword
This swordfish came up from the depths still green. Check out the purple coloration these things have!

 We tend to stick with yellow Bullbuster braid because it is easier for us to see and stay on top of. The Bullbuster braid cuts through the water and allows us to hit bottom and feel the bite in absurd depths. 

Daytime Swordfish
Using yellow Bullbuster braid helped us keep the boat right on top of this swordfish so that we could see the bite in over 1800 feet of water.

 On days with more current we fish 65Lb Bullbuster braid, on days with less current we fish 80Lb Bullbuster braid and we can put more pressure on the fish. After catching 7 swordfish to nearly 500lbs this past season, we can definitely say that Bullbuster did the trick.

Braid For Daytime Swordfishing

Check out our other articles using Bullbuster Fishing Lines!  

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Using Bullbuster's DIY Spooling Tools -   We show how we use Bullbuster spooling tools to keep fresh line on our reels with minimal hassle. 

Winter Fishing In Miami-  Winter is one of the best times to fish in Miami.  We throw up our kites and put a hurting on the fish including sailfish, kingfish, tunas and big mani. 

Check out some other articles on the Bullbuster Community About Prepping To #SpendMoreTimeFishing:

Why Getting Your Fluorocarbon In Bulk Can Help You Spend More Time Fishing -  One way to get ready for an intense season of spring fishing is to pre rig leaders. If you are a series fisherman get a bulk spool of fluorocarbon and get tying! A 50 yard skein is going to be a waste of time.  Get out a box of ziplock and a sharpie and get rigging!  

Why Buying Braid In Bulk Can Help You Spend More Time Fishing -  We all know braid is more expensive than mono but it also lasts a whole lot longer.  When you buy your braid in bulk you get economies of scale but thats not it!  You actually end up saving yourself a heck of a lot of time re-spooling when you use it as backing and only replace your mono topshot.  If you are serious fishermen, this is the way to go. 

Getting Your Swivels In Bulk Packs Can Help You Spend More Time Fishing -   Again it all comes down to preparation.   Get a bulk pack of swivels and keep on box on your boat or travel case, and keep the other pack safely tucked away in your fishing closet to avoid any corrosion. 

We hope you enjoyed this article, and we hope that we will have the opportunity to help you spend more time fishing.  Check out our brand direct fishing lines which you can buy directly from our factory at the tap of a button, saving you both time and money.