Black Marlin Caught On Fishing Line


It is a glorious day out on the continental shelf, 20 miles away from shore. You have been trolling lures for Blue or Black Marlin all morning without any luck when you hear the sweet sound of your drag and you know you are onto something. What a rush. As you prepare to prepare to take the fight to the fish, the skipper of the boat is doing the same. With an experienced skipper, you as the angler will not even have noticed his or her role in the catch, but it was a team effort. Here’s why…


As soon as the skipper realises you are on a fish, they will likely try and minimise the amount of line you are losing by driving the boat straight at the Marlin. By driving at the fish, the skipper will create a small belly of slack between the angler and the fish, which will naturally keep the lure behind the fish and keep the hook set. This has all happened while the angler is preparing for the fight and letting the fish run.

Most anglers will keep winding in the slack on their end until they get the Marlin boatside. However, they forget that just because there is slack on their end, doesn’t mean there is slack at the Marlin’s end of the line. Drag pressure and lure pressure could mean that there is no slack on the Marlin’s end. This could result in the Marlin coming in boatside while it still has an abundance of energy, and this is when accidents can happen.

Alternating between winding in the slack and applying heavy drag, and letting the Marlin dive before pulling it back in again will tire the Marlin to help when the leaderman can get his or her hands on the beast, it can be held and released.


Chances are your skipper will have positioned the boat to give you the easiest fight they can. This means positioning the boat up-sea of the fish. When you are down-sea of the fish, the angler has to fight the fish, the wind, and the sea itself, making the fight much harder than it has to be. Getting up-sea of the fish will make this much easier and take as much of the strain out of the fight as possible.

The skipper can also position the boat to increase the angler’s visibility. Positioning the boat so the angler can see the line clearly will help judge the fish’s movements and allow the angler to modify his or her angles accordingly.


If the Marlin attacks the lure hard then runs hard without many jumps, it could only have the hook around the bill. If the angler turns the fish in this scenario, the hook will slip off and the fish will escape. These are 50-50 scenarios. This is when it becomes even more important that the skipper controls the slack and gets the angler to adjust the drag so as not to pull the fish in too quickly and lose the catch.


As the fight draws to a close and the wireman is getting ready to grab the leader, the skipper will try to match the boat’s speed with that of the fish. If the skipper stops the boat too early and the fish darts, the fight starts all over again. It also helps keep everyone safe. If the fish quickly changes direction and comes in too close too quickly, it might jump. If the boat is still moving, the skipper can make minor adjustments to keep the Marlin at arm’s length a little longer. This is particularly important when tagging. A moving boat means the fish’s head will be kept underwater, whereas pulling the fish in close from a stationary boat puts pressure on the fish’s head and pulls it out of the water, which could cause an unwanted response from the fish.

Next time you take a Marlin, be aware that it was very much a result of angler-skipper cooperation. A good skipper can make the difference between a successful day out and a handful of missed catches, or worse, an accident at sea.


Do you have anything to add? What does your skipper do differently? Let us know in the comments section below.

John Steele
John Steele

John loves cooking at home and outdoors, travelling, fishing and discovering a new life. He's got loads of experience he wants to share while he adventures through retirement.