Sailboat Fishing 101: A Guide to Landing the Big Catch

Sailboat Fishing

It is not a secret that fishing from boats brings many benefits because you can access perfect fishing locations otherwise inaccessible from land.

That gives you an advantage and increases your fishing success. Besides, spending time on a boat is fun and adventurous.

The same goes for sailboat fishing. Sailing on its own is an incredible activity, especially when paired with catching your own dinner. Long hulls of sailboats allow you to store a lot of equipment, and if you are using sails instead of motor, it brings you to desired location quietly, without scaring off the fish.

Another benefit is that some of the worlds most popular sailing destinations, are also the best for fishing, such as the Bahamas and the Caribbean area.

All of this may sound out of reach for you, but the thing is, you don’t have to own a sailboat. You can rent on vacation, even with a skipper if you don’t know how to sail.

Here I will tell you everything you need to know about fishing from a sailboat!



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What is Sailboat Fishing?

Sailboat fishing is simply a term that defines fishing from a sailboat specifically, instead of any other boat.

There are many benefits to this approach, and I will mention some of them later on. What is important here is access to various places that hold a lot of fish. Depending on sailboat type, you can spend day on the open ocean catching deep sea species, or you can anchor the boat in a nice bay and enjoy fishing suitable for all experience levels.

What you need to be careful about is the size of your boat and keel and rudder. Navigating through shallow waters for inexperienced anglers can be dangerous.

Unlike motorboats, sailboats allow you to stay away from land almost unlimited time, and that is what makes this adventure amazing.

How Does it Differ From Other Types of Fishing?

When you compare benefits of sailboat fishing with any other boat, they are almost the same. As already mentioned, the biggest advantage is access.

Difference is that sailboat can be powered with wind, or motors. If you are sailing, you are moving quietly, and anywhere you arrive, fish won’t get scared. Motors can also be used when the weather or location don’t offer good sailing conditions. Sailboats give you options that other boats don’t have.

When conditions allow, you can sail while trolling for fish, and that is one of the most enjoyable fishing experiences you can have. However, it requires experienced crew, and a skipper who will navigate while you are fishing.

But to be honest, there are some downsides. Motor yachts have wider open space on deck where you can move an manoeuvre your rods with ease. Sailboats have masts, forestays and backstays, and many other parts that will stay in a way of your casting. So, before you set sails to a desired location, decide which fishing technique you will use that does not involve swinging your rod around.

Sailboat Fishing - Types

Is Sailboat Fishing Suitable for Beginners?

As mentioned above, sailboats have some obstacles that other boats don’t have. This means that beginners can’t practice casting and that some extra caution is necessary when fishing from it.

Long and narrow hulls, especially sides, can cause tripping when reeling in a fish. All of this doesn’t mean that sailboats are not suitable for beginners. What it means is that a beginner should be in a company of a more experienced angler.

When it comes to kids, I would not recommend leaving them unsupervised at any times while fishing from such boats.

Is There Any Specific Fishing Equipment Needed for Sailboat Fishing?

Fishing from a sailboat requires saltwater rated equipment. Maybe you have a boat in freshwater, but still, invest in more sturdy and durable equipment with high resistance to corrosion.

What is very important here, is using short rods and dropping your baits below you instead of casting. Rods over 7 ft will get in a way a lot and decrease the quality of your sailboat fishing experience.

Depending on targeted species, you can use anything from light setups (small reef species close to shore) up to heavy-duty equipment for offshore.

Jigging (slow pitch or vertical) and trolling are two best techniques, and if you plan on doing that, jigging or trolling equipment should be used.

What you need on a sailboat, besides rods and reels is the following:

Sailboat Fishing - Equipment

What Are Recommended Fishing Techniques for Sailboat Fishing?

Secrets of sailboat fishing are very simple. You just need to pick the right technique. As already mentioned, trolling and jigging are the way to go. Here are some tips for both:

Trolling from a sailboat:

  • Use stiffer rods.
  • If trolling for big fish, use trolling rods with rollers in line guides to reduce friction.
  • Use baitrunner or trolling reels.
  • Use the following formula to approximately calculate how much line you need to reach desired trolling depth: If your boat is going 5mph, you are using 50lbs line, 5lb weights, and you released 50ft of line, your lure will be about 5 ft underneath the surface.

Jigging from a sailboat:

  • Practice vertical jigging in deeper waters.
  • Choose short rods with heavy power to withstand hard strikes.
  • Use conventional reels.
  • Use longer and heavy tapered jigs that have built in weights.

If you have never fished from a sailboat, start simple and get used to the technique first. Later, you will upgrade your knowledge and techniques!

What Are Some Common Fish Species That Can Be Targeted?

Sailboat fishing can land you almost any saltwater species, from the smallest to the biggest. Of course, which one you will get depends on your experience level, location, technique, and available species in the area.

Here is a list of most popular ones:

  • Grater amberjack
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Black and blue marlin
  • Tuna
  • Wahoo
  • Mackerel
  • Halibut
  • Seabass
  • Bluefish
  • Flounder
  • Pollock
  • Cod

And many more!

Sailboat Fishing - Mackerel

What are the Advantages of Using a Sailboat for Fishing?

Sailboats have many advantages, and some were already mentioned in the previous chapters.

Here is a sum of those, together with many other:

  • Using wind as power.
  • Quiet moving through waterž.
  • If you are a boat owner, less money goes on gas and motor maintenance.
  • Modern sailboats are very comfortable.
  • Long hulls mean a lot of carrying capacity.
  • Suitable for more people.
  • Sailboats are generally safe and extremely hard to capsize.
  • While sailing, you almost always have a right of way by law which is useful when trolling in busy areas.
  • Sailing is a fun, clean, and relaxing activity that connects you to nature and fish a lot more than motorboats.

Mastering sailing is harder than motorboating, however, the reward is a lot greater!

What are Some Popular Sailboat Fishing Destinations Around the World?

There are many sailing destinations around the world, and many of them are also a fishing paradise!

Depending on where you are from, how far you plan to travel, and what fish you would like to catch, here is list of TOP 5 places all over the globe for sailboat fishing!

  • Mediterranean – Mediterranean is a sailing and fishing paradise. Waters are generally very safe, there much less dangerous marine and weather occurrences than in other parts of the world. I would recommend you visit Adriatic sea and enjoy local hospitality, amazing sailing, and incredible fishing opportunities.

  • Caribbean – Tropical paradise, crystal clear waters, and areas where fish are just waiting to bite your bait are the best here! You can combine sailing and fishing across many islands and places, just make sure to hire experienced skipper as open ocean can be dangerous for beginners.

  • South-east Asia – whether is it the most popular Thailand, or any other country, this place in the world offers breathtaking views, thousands of islands, and waters full of fish just waiting to be caught! It is also one of the most affordable places to fish!

  • Zanzibar – Known as a vacation hot-spot, it also offers incredible sailing opportunities. When you add fishing to it, you are in for a real adventure!

  • Australia – Around great barrier reef, there are incredible fishing spots that are accessible with sailboats! Besides, this is one of the most spectacular marine wonders in the world, so you can add diving and snorkelling on your “to do” list!

Sailboat Fishing - Destinations

Are There Any Safety Considerations or Precautions to Keep in Mind?

Any form of boat fishing has certain dangers. But, if you are responsible and careful, those are minimal.

Sailing on its own can be dangerous for inexperienced people. This is why you should divide duties on a boat. The one who is fishing can’t sail at the same time.

Always wear a life west, and carefully walk across the boat to prevent slipping and falling. Fishing for big game requires at least 2 anglers on top of it, one of which needs to be experienced.

If you have never sailed before, you should receive a safety briefing from a skipper to prevent being hit by a sale while changing direction, to get stuck in ropes, and similar.

Have a first aid kit on board and follow these common sense rules that will ensure safe sailing!

Are there any Legal Requirements or Permits Needed for Sailboat Fishing?

Answer to this question greatly depends on location you are fishing at, and as an angler, you are responsible to check up to date requirements in different countries.

Most common things you need are the following:

  • Fishing license – required for all crew on board, even those just observing.

  • Additional stamps/permits – required for specific fish species in some areas that are not covered with regular license.

  • Skipper license – you must be licensed to operate a sailboat, especially for offshore (there are different types of licences).

  • Boat insurance – boats must be registered and insured to be able to sail.

Among other things, you must know what areas are off-limits for fishing, obey rules about equipment and bag limits, and never anchor in places where anchoring is forbidden.

When you are following all these legal requirements you don’t have to worry about law enforcement and nothing will ruin your sailing and fishing trip!

Sailboat Fishing - Safety


Sailboat fishing is one of the best and most adventurous forms of fishing! There is something special about using power of nature and wind to navigate the seas! Of course, you must take care of your safety.

Secrets of sailboat fishing are quiet arrival to places full of unsuspecting fish, and positioning yourself into ideal locations that nobody else can access without a boat!

From small coastal species to tunas, there is nothing unreachable for sailboats! Just remember to use short rods and avoid casting due to many construction obstacles on sailboats.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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