The Best Way to Rig Swordfish Bait
The Best Way to Rig Swordfish Bait

The Best Way to Rig Swordfish Bait

Is there really a best way to rig swordfish bait? There’s only one way to find out. Many experts have differing opinions but with all this information, you’ll definitely be able to find the best way to rig swordfish bait for you.

What Kind of Swordfishing Are You Even Doing Anyway?

These days there are two main ways anglers go about swordfishing: and the difference is night and day. Literally!

Day and Night

Up until the early 2000s, swordfishing was mostly nighttime affair. That’s the only time when swordfish really get close enough to the surface (within 200-800’) to be caught with a rig that isn’t specifically focused on trolling squid 1500’ below sea level.

Although swords love squid any time of the day or night, it’s become conventional wisdom that your best chance of catching a swordfish is actually during the day; when the fish are largely confined to the pelagic zone as water temperatures and sun exposure in shallow waters is too high for their biology.

Even the staunchest of nighttime swordfishing champions likely run at least one line as far down as they can. So if you’re nighttime swordfishing, quite a few of the daytime tricks will apply. But it won’t work the other way around.

The benefits of learning the ins and outs of nighttime swordfishing won’t quite pay off the same way. And since we want only the best…  We’ll focus on the best way to rig swordfish bait during the day; it will pay more dividends in the long run.

Best Way to Rig Swordfish Bait during the Day

In daytime, swordfish are found around 1500’ below the surface of the water. And that makes a big impact on how you’re going to rig the bait. And the bait will be squid.

If there’s one thing that everyone in the swordfishing community can agree on, it’s that swordfish love squid.

The Deep Drop Rig

The overall consensus is pretty clear. The best way to rig swordfish bait during the day is to put together what’s known as a deep drop rig. What are the components of a deep drop rig? Read along!

Breaking It Down

If you’re going to put fishing line 1500’ down in the ocean, you may want to overbuild so you have a higher chance of getting your rig back up. After all, it’s a long journey to the literal depths of the ocean and back for the bait you’re rigging up! And there are more than a few parts you’ll most likely want to consider.

Don’t Spare The Rod

The best way to rig swordfish bait is the one that will give you the most hits. And you won’t know whether your bait is hitting or not without a rod with a soft enough tip. Since the line is so far away, you’ll want to make sure that your rod has enough give so you can see odd movements that often signify a hit.

Reeling It In

All but the most diehard anglers are going to use an electric reel. And since reels are a big ticket item budget is probably the big factor here. Just make sure that the one you choose is big enough to handle the heavy line you’ll be using and it fits your rod!

Follow the Leader

When you want the best way to rig swordfish bait, the leader needs to be 300lb or better. You don’t want to miss the fish of your dreams because the leader goes and your whole bait rig with it.

Get in Line

65-80lb braided test line in a high visibility color is a favorite. It’s so dark down in the depths that a swordfish isn’t going to be put off by any colors. But you’ll definitely want to be able to identify your line speedily.

Hook Up

You’ll want a good-sized hook for your squid, between 10/0 and 12/0. The best is probably right in the middle: 11/0. The brand Mustad is a trusted name, and you can’t steer to wrong with their 7691 model when you’re looking for the best way to rig swordfish bait.  

Getting Your Weight Up

When you are going to rig swordfish bait for some day-fishing one of the first most important things to consider is how much weight you’ll need to keep your line down where the swordfish are.

Brett Holden is one of the premiere sword fishermen with over 1000 fish to his credit: here he shows the weight system he’s developed over the years. It’s hard to argue with results, and when you’re looking to for the best way to rig swordfish bait, it can pay to listen to folks with experience.

The Squid Itself

Rigging squid for swordfishing is not a matter to be taken lightly. After all, everything has been leading up to this moment.

When we’re talking about the best way to rig swordfish bait, what we’re really talking about is making sure that the squid stays flat (giving the appropriate presentation to the swordfish. An improperly rigged squid could spin, scaring your trophy swordfish off before it even gets a chance to bite.

Words alone don’t do justice to rigging a squid properly. But has an excellent 11 step tutorial here, that will give some images to the process.

Grab your 80lb waxed floss and be prepared to follow along!

First Steps

You’ll want the hook we mentioned before along with the 300lb leader. Crimp it leaving about 2.5” off the end (later).


You’ll want the squid’s head stitched to the mantle and make sure it’s very secure by using a half hitch. Then tie an overhand knot right after.

Captain Hook

Before you go further, lay the squid down, and place the hook over it to see where the right place will be. The extra mono of the tag end will provide some stiffness to the hook’s placement. This is a key trick, that will have you sure you’re using the best way to rig swordfish bait.

Most times you’ll want the hook halfway down the mantle and the hook point should be pulled back through the squid.

As you work the hook all the way through the squid, and pull it back through, that extra length of mono should enter back into the squid too, adding the stiffness which is a hallmark of the best way to rig swordfish bait.

With the tag end into the tip of the squid’s mantle, use a stitch to hold the hook. Stitch the eye of the hook too, and the author recommends you use an overhand knot and a half-hitch to do so. And given his pedigree, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows the best way to rig swordfish bait.

Finishing Touches

You’ll want to use a glow-in-the-dark skirt just long enough to cover the top of the squid, but not long enough to obstruct the hook. The skirt gets two stitches, one on either side of the skirt.

This stitching is critical to ensuring you’ve gotten the most out of this tutorial on the best way to rig swordfish bait. If you don’t know the knots or need a refresher, be sure to look them up!

Finally Out On the Water

No one will be more excited than you when you’ve finished this up. No one said the best way to rig swordfish bait was easy, after all. Good luck with your deep drop, and happy fishing!

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