Tips for Catching Daytime Swordfish

July 16, 2017

Australia’s daytime sword fishery has exploded over the last few years with great numbers of fish being found right around the country. Using daytime deep dropping techniques, the flood gates have well and truly have been opened and world-class fishing is evolving at our doorstep.

With today’s technological developments, the added benefit of a CHIRP sonar in deep water applications provide an excellent advantage. CHIRP sonar helps you to see and distinguish fish and bait targets in higher detail than conventional single pulse sonar. The multi-beam frequencies offer you a clearer picture and understanding of what is occurring below the surface.

Finding Spots

Swordfish are deep-sea species generally found along the shelf line or any deep structure, ranging 300-600m+ in depth. By using our GPS, we are able to pinpoint rough areas where there may be pinnacles, valleys or canyon walls. These areas help hold baitfish such as Squid, Blue grenadier, Blue-eye Trevella and Frostfish. A useful feature we have found on our Simrad is the SonarChart Live function. Most map cards are not 100% accurate when it comes to depths and bottom contours of the ocean floor. Using your Simrad sonar and the latest Navionics card, you are able to create new HD bathymetry maps displayed in real time. This feature can be enabled directly onto compatible plotters.

Once in an area, using our sonar, we are able to look for bottom changes as well as fish holding close to the bottom. Using a low frequency transducer in deep water gives a larger cone angle and superior depth penetration. Areas of structure with a scatter layer present are good to target. The scatter layer is a layer of marine organisms that is found throughout the ocean in variable depth range around 300-500m deep. These organisms move up and down the water column and may rise to feed at night.

On the NSS series you have the ability to scroll back on the sonar log and waypoint exactly where the structure or bait is holding. Using those waypoints, we are able to set up an accurate drift in the area we are wanting to target. When understood, scrolling back can be an extremely useful tool.

While sounding in deep water we like to use ‘split zoom’. Split zoom enables the screen to be split in two allowing us to watch a certain depth range, where the bait may be concentrated, as well as full view of the entire water column. This feature is beneficial as it allows you to observe the finer details you may miss on a full screen view. 


Swordfish are commonly referred to as ‘the gladiator of the sea’, so being prepared is the key to success when tackling these brutes! Most anglers are opting for light weight set ups. A good starting point is a 50-80W size reel spooled with 800-1000+m of 80-130lb braid. This can be top-shotted with a matching monofilament line class, a wind-on leader of 300-400 pound and leader of similar strength.

Deep Dropping

Taking a slow and steady approach when deploying a rig will save you a lot of time and tackle. We use 2-3 different coloured lights spread out along our leader with elastic bands. A light 8-10lb monofilament leader is tied to a baited hook and a disposable weight. Deploying the rig weight first, slowly release your line so that you eliminate any harsh bumps that may prematurely break the weight off. Once the weight has reached the bottom, wind up the slack line. With a few quick cranks of the reel the weight will break away and the bait will drift freely in the current.

Depending on the weather conditions and the current, you may be able to use your engine to slow your drift by clicking your engine in and out of reverse intermittently. Alternatively, we occasionally use a sea anchor to help slow our drift and keep our bait down for longer periods of time.

Learning the basics of your sounder, together with the time spent on the water will greatly increase your chances of catching a daytime swordfish.


  • Increasing scroll speed will help enlarge targets. In deeper water, it takes longer for the ping to get down and come back up, and the deeper you go the slower the image scrolls.
  • Adjust your range to suit the depth of bottom you are fishing.
  • Split Zoom your screen to be able to focus on certain depths or bottom.
  • Adjusting your gain will help give stronger returns.
  • Adjust your colour line for better definition on markings/bottom features.

David and Steven Puopolo, Australia