The sailfish belongs to the family Istiophoridae and is related to the swordfish and the marlin. Named after its high, deep blue and black dorsal fin, it has a pikelike upper jaw and small scales embedded in its skin. Their average length is 6 ft, although they can reach an impressive 10 ft. The Pacific sailfish, I. orientalis, specifically grows around 100 lbs. Many sources believe that the sailfish is the fastest fish, capable of swimming in bursts of 70 mph.
Billfish will often first attack in order to "kill" prey with its bill, circling back to swallow it afterwards. A good tactic for catching sailfish, therefore, is to drop back after one strikes a trolled bait and free-spool the line so that you can trick the fish into thinking it's stunned the bait. The techniques that are most incredible, however, involve using fly gear, especially since baitfish are actually frightened out of the water by the sailfish quite regularly. You can tease the sails with other trolled lines and live bait that you let them taste but keep out of reach until they're near the stern. Then you can snatch the live bait out of the water and replace it with the fly bait, which the hungry sails will instantly attack.
Artificial baits have been known to catch quite a few sails! You can also use baitfish, such as a mullet, with a much more visually attractive artificial bait over it (see an example of this in the clip above) or with its backbone removed so that it swims more naturally and with a 2-ounce egg sinker on the hook to keep it just under the waves. The scent that Mullet puts in the water often attracts sailfish into going after your other trolled lures or bait, as well.
A sailfish should be released alive as soon as possible. If you'd like a mount, all you need are some approximate measurements and a picture!
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