How to Fish from a Sailboat: A Complete Guide

One of the amazing yet crazy activities to take part in when long distance sailing is – fishing from your sailboat. You can’t deny the freshness of these fish and it is easy to turn them into ceviche, sushi or other amusing meal. You will be highly satisfied with these ‘sea to pan’ dishes. It is a great pass time for anyone in the boat that also brings a delicious meal with it.

There are some rules and techniques that you should follow while you are ready to do fishing from a sailboat. After starting to catch fish, you have to gather and prepare all of the essential gears. Here are some basic guidelines about preparing your fishing gear as well as catching fish.

1. Choosing the gear carefully

You would find racks of reels, rods and different colorful, shiny lures of different sizes and shapes. You have to choose these elements according to the area you are fishing and what type of fish you are going to catch. If you find it confusing, ask the shopkeeper for a suggestion. The cost would increase for stronger and bigger equipment.

The reel and rod set-up is not necessary for landing fish but it could make the process a lot easier. Some fishing kits consist of an empty bottle of 2lt for wrapping around and some line. Using this kit, you may catch an average-sized fish but keep in mind that you would need to fight a little, thick gloves and help of the crew members to pull the line.


It is actually easy to pull the line with your hands but you have to go for the thicker line as a big line is difficult to snap. You would find lures in various colors, buy one that suits your whole set up.

2. Length of the line

When you are done with picking the lure, the length of the line would come in your mind. The faster your boat is running, more lines ought to go out. Usually, the length should be four times the size of your boat length. Fish often come up for taking a look and go for lure but the wake of the boat always causes disturbance and intrigues them. But it is a bit difficult to judge the distance of a semi-sinking lure.

You could set the break with a reel and it would lose the line in the time of a strike. But without reels, you would need something that might suit taking the snatch. But doing this, the line won’t snap as the hook could be fixed firmly.

3. Reeling in

The average beach caster rod and the set-up of the multiple reel is suitable to reel in the small species. Species like pouting, dab, whiting, flounder, cod, dogfish, coalfish and Pollock would lay a little bend in your rod but you would need an angler to raise the rod and reel in steadily and quickly for getting the catch to the sailboat. To reel the larger species in requires more fight and effort.

You have to pull the rod back to create a bit of a slack line and get some shots of the reel before you strike the rod back again. You should repeat this process till the fish is in. you may not want to lose a strong and big fish; so, increase the clutch to tire out the fish. you should slow down your boat now and consider furling or bearing away the headsail.

best fishing line

Set the clutch on the reel to let the line wind in. don’t make it too tight for fish that it couldn’t take more when it feels energetic. You could make progress when the fish is breaking on the shallow. Allow more lines and keep patience if you find it diving deep.

4. Landing fish

When you find the fish near your boat, you should think about how to land it on your sailboat cleanly and quickly and it is good to catch the fish technically. The certain way to land is to gaff the fish. It is a sharp and large hook placed on a stick that allows it to hold the meat by this hook before it’s too late.

Except this, you could pull up the fish under a guardrail. Be careful as a little mistake due to the rapid thrashing could set it free. Thus, a gaff would be a right investment. Otherwise, you may pass a hoop of line on the fish and tight it properly over the fish tail for getting a stable hold.

But this process is not so successful as the fish could easily jump from the hook and get away unharmed. In every way, the gaff is good for landing your fish.

5. Kill the fish and prepare your meal

Now it’s time to kill the fish but you may wonder what is the best way to kill it? Using a crane handle or something heavy could make the process inhuman, slow and bloody. The way is holding the head of the fish in a water container and cutting the gills using a sharp knife.

This could be done without any mess and drama as the blood of the fish would go into the container. Now, remove the upper layer of the fish, bring out the flesh and make your meal ready.

Tips to fishing from a sailboat

  • Use different shaded lures for experiment
  • Slow down the boat when reeling in
  • Buy a good quality fishing rod and reel according to your budget
  • Take good care of the hook after landing the fish
  • Take advice from the local people about sailing before starting your journey
  • Don’t eat fish that contain ciguatera as it is risky
  • Cut out the line if you find a fish that you don’t want to land and that is large enough
  • Always wear safety gloves before landing the fish
  • Two hours before sunset and after sunrise would be the best time for fishing
  • Don’t forget to attach a leader and a swivel in front of the lure
  • The fishing line should be strong and thick enough to catch bigger fish

Hopefully, this article would be useful for you to find a proper guideline about how to do fishing from a sailboat. Though it is a bit challenging, it could make your journey enjoyable and useful.

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