How To Rig A Daisy Chain
how to rig a daisy chain

How To Rig A Daisy Chain

Of all the billfish that make up the most attractive sport fishing available, sailfish are held uniquely in high regard. Whether it’s determining how fast sailfish really can swim or what their famous dorsal fins do, these fish are far and away some of the most interesting prey for sporting anglers on the planet. So what should you consider when you are learning how to rig a daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat?

What Makes a Sailfish a Sailfish?

There are purportedly two species of sailfish, the Atlantic sailfish and the Indo-Pacific sailfish. However, science has led us to believe that they are in fact one species. Given that scientists have been unable to find genetic evidence distinguishing them, it’s probably safe to lump them together.

Sailfish have the reputation as the fastest fish in the sea. And with the largest sailfish caught weighing in at 220 lbs or so, that is a lot of very athletic, hard-fighting, and dangerously bill-waving pelagic and migratory sea-creature to handle.

Taking on a top gamefish is something of a dream for many anglers. So if you are lucky enough to gear up to take one on, you might want to make sure you are giving yourself the best tools to succeed.

The Sailfish Habits that Explain Why You Should You Learn How to Rig A Daisy Chain

And that’s what brings us to this next part. Not only will we tell you why you should learn how to rig a daisy chain to bring sailfish to your boat, but also why that technique is effective.

This top gamefish doesn’t just go for any single lure. Their specific hunting preference make it critical to put together the right presentation.

Getting the Bill: How Sailfish Eat

The key to catching sailfish is understanding their hunting patterns. This fish species is very sophisticated hunter. These fish have learned that hunting as a group results in more meals for all the group members. Sailfish have collectively learned their techniques over generations and generations to make themselves faster, better, stronger.

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork for Hungry Sailfish

Although they’ve been known to live independently, sailfish generally indulge in the fact that they can team up with other sailfish. They carefully limit the numbers of their gang. The number of sailfish hunting a baitfish school is basically a fixed ratio; too many sailfish, and the fish can’t secure enough prey; too few, and the school that they’re hunting might be able to evade the sailfish with many fewer losses.

As you might guess from looking at a sailfish, they hunt using their bills. (They are also known as bayonet-fish, after all).

Scientists have discovered they use two specific methods. The first is called “tapping”; poking or spearing already targeted fish with their bill.  And the second is called “slashing”, where they’ll use their overwhelming speed and power to flail across the ranks of schooling fish desperate to escape them.

All of the sailfish’s hunting efforts are focused on the back of the school. Because their energy can be exhausted relatively quickly, their goal is to slow down the unlucky fish that are already bringing up the rear. And this will have implications to why you want to learn how to rig a daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat.

The sailfish exert great energy to stun, wound, and otherwise slow down as many of the most vulnerable fish as they can. This means that as the main school of mackerel or other baitfish escape, the sailfish are left with plenty of wounded or disoriented prey to chase down and eat.

Amusingly, they also display a right or left-handed preference while making their moves on schooling fish. And their self-organizing hunting gangs tend to have even numbers of sailfish with each tendency, so no matter which way the school breaks, they have their bases covered.

Never Break the (Daisy) Chain

As you can see, by learning how to rig a daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat, you get to take advantage of what these billfish are born and bred to do: attack small numbers of injured fish that were force to separate from the school and become sailfish dinner.

This means a daisy chain, which is a string of high-test leader line with multiple lures spaced evenly, can upset the water in a way that would mimic a small group of fish that were injured stragglers separated from their main school.

The first step on how to rig a Daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat is to understand how the setup best works. Daisy chains are NOT necessarily meant to be the bait that you want your sailfish to hit.

Because you probably don’t have a professional crew that’s helping you prep fresh mackerel for bait every few hours, a daisy chain with artificial lures can keep you fishing with even the most basic rig; just a daisy chain in your wake, and a couple of other poles rigged with bigger lures for when the sailfish appear.

The Presentation is Why Sailfish Strike


When you want to know how to rig a daisy chain to bring sailfish to your boat, it helps to know the “why.” Basically, what’s the daisy chain is doing is acting as a BIG tease for these fish.

You want the daisy chain to act like the injured remnants of a school of fish. Generally the best way to achieve this is rigging the daisy chain so it stays closer to your wake. The churning water, noise from your motor, and the flashes of the lures will definitely grab any sailfish’s attention.

However, to rig up a successful daisy chain lure, you don’t want to quit there. Although the excitement created by the daisy chain may garner sailfish attention, you have to make sure the presentation makes sense to the sailfish.

One of the most effective methods is to use the daisy chain to “raise” sailfish; not to hook them on it, but to get their attention.

You cast out a bigger single lure behind the daisy chain. That placement puts your main lure directly in between the sailfish and the daisy chain that caught its attention in the first place.

The reason that this works is because it makes an even more realistic picture for the sailfish. It’s a fish eat fish world out there. You’ve set up with the daisy chain closer to the boat, setting up the look of frenzied confused fish.

You then have a large lure that looks like it’s totally focused on pursuing this easy prey. The sailfish, of course, is the top dog; and your lure will be the first thing it hits because it’s the competition for the daisy chain!

(A brief aside: If your concern is catching an IGFA world-record sailfish, there should only be one hook on the chain of lures. If you’re fishing for your own satisfaction, it’s totally up to you).

From the perspective of the sailfish, they’ll see a small predator (aka qualifying sailfish-food) fully engrossed in chasing even easier prey out in front of them. This whole picture should rile up a sailfish to the point at which they are at their most aggravated, aggressive, and likely to bite.

Different Chains for Different Folks

Part of what makes it worthwhile for you to learn how to rig a daisy chain to bring sailfish to your boat is the sheer diversity of daisy chain rigs you can put together.

Pro Status

Want to use live ballyhoo for bait like the professionals? You can check out this article by Steve Kantner on the FishTrack website that takes you knot-by-knot, step-by-step through gearing up live ballyhoo. The slideshow attached is great and well worth your time to read, since you want to know how to rig a daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat

If you’ve got no live ballyhoo available to you (or it’s not within your skill bracket or budget), don’t worry, you shouldn’t have to boo-hoo!

Rigging a Daisy Chain for Regular Folks

Whether you choose eBay, Amazon, or an independent company, there are more than enough folks ready and willing to supply you with pre-assembled daisy chains that are far more durable (meaning more time with lines in the water, and less time twisting copper wire around a ballyhoo’s bill).

Daisy chains that you buy from a vendor will usually be made of 120-200lb test, often feature nifty features like individual swivels for each lure. And the price shouldn’t break the bank either. Prices between 20 and 40 USD means that even the thriftiest sporting angler can feel a lot better about how much they’re REALLY spending for how much value… fishing budget be damned.

After all, your daisy chain, especially with artificial lures, is how you’re supposed to RAISE fish, not catch them. Your setup doesn’t need to be sophisticated; just use it to troll, and watch carefully for any sailfish you might raise.

Sailfish Study

Even though they fight hard, sailfish aren’t considered fish to be fought on heavy tackle. Their energy usually flags quickly after their rapid bursts of show acrobatics like tail-walking on the water or charging flat out for 300 yards (toward or away from the boat!).

And since they’re gamefish that aren’t generally considered good eating, there’s a sporting aspect that lighter tackle will tire the fish out less and let them recover faster to provide you with another fight another day.

 Since we’ve covered the major points of how to rig a daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat, you might want a refresher where you should be once you’re geared up and ready to go.

If your sailfish adventures tend to take place on the Atlantic ocean, it’s said that the best time of year is the colder season (November through May) with January and February being the best months.

At that time the sailfish will be riding the ocean swells south, surfing their way to their winter grounds. And even though fighting a sailfish in rough weather might be one of the most exciting fishing that there is to be done, don’t forget that those sailfish bills mean business. It takes a savvy captain to get out of the way of a charging billfish and keep them on, no matter the climate.

One of the last, but most important fine points of how to rig a daisy chain to bring the sailfish to your boat. Have a good pair of gloves! They will protect you, your hands, and give you the safest way to hold up the sailfish of your dreams before you release to grow just a little bit bigger for your next trip. Happy fishing!

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