All On The Line

I recently purchased a heavy duty deep drop outfit and want to try my luck with swordfish. What line should I load my reel with? – Joe Felix, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.


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Daytime swordfishing requires highly specialized gear.

Excellent question. First, lets set the stage for those unfamiliar with this emerging fishery. Daytime swordfishing takes place in 1,500 to 2,000 feet of water over submerged seamounts. Underwater peaks and valleys deflect nutrient rich currents toward the surface and create ideal hunting grounds for beastly broadbills. It’s in these chilly, dark depths where swordfish hunt from dawn to dusk. Broadbill swordfish have the supernatural ability to locate and capture prey in this extreme environment thanks in part to a unique heat exchanger that pumps warm water to their brain and eyes, allowing the fish to function where most others wouldn’t dare venture.

As the helmsman powers bow first into the relentless Gulf Stream, the idea is to naturally present a bait to a predator prowling the pitch-black depths along the bottom stretches of the water column. This requires the use of 10 to 15 pounds of lead, a long wind-on leader that acts as a shock absorber, and a light source that essentially rings the dinner bell.

To do this effectively, ultra-thin, super sensitive braid is the only viable option, regardless if you’re fishing a manual reel, power-assist or electric. Otherwise your gear probably won’t hold enough heavy monofilament to reach the bottom and you certainly won’t be able to detect subtle strikes with so much elasticity. In this arena, having a clear understanding of what’s occurring so far below the surface is critical. Daytime swordfishing is a science and contrary to what you may think, broadbills do not viciously annihilate everything they see and charge off for the hills in high gear. Even big fish can be sluggish in such extremes and often need to be coerced into making a final commitment.

While broadbill swordfish are the undisputed gladiators of the sea their mouths are comprised of fairly soft tissue, so unforgiving drag is out of the question. This means there is no need for anything more than 100 lb. line, with seasoned slayers going as light as 65 lb. braid. Imagine capturing a 500-pound sea monster with 12 lb. diameter line. Wow!

One thing you can bet on is that once a decent fish is hooked you’re in for a long battle. Experience and quality of equipment will be factors toward achieving success.

Regarding brand, we fish 80 lb. Diamond Braid exclusively but it is a matter of personal preference. Hi-vis colors help monitor the angle of the line, but again it’s all personal preference. It is important to note that modern braid was not designed to be fished in this manner, and today’s super-lines are still evolving. In the meantime, inspect your line often.

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