What’s The Hardest Fish To Catch?

By Debbie Hanson

Sep 07, 2021

Why the blue marlin is considered the hardest fish to catch, trolling techniques for the toughest fish to catch, how to land the hardest saltwater fish to catch

If you ask a few different anglers what they think the hardest fish to catch in saltwater would be, you might get a few different answers based on opinion. However, most would agree that the blue marlin ranks right near the top when it comes to the most challenging of the big game species, but is closely followed by the black marlin, swordfish, and yellowfin tuna.

Hardest Saltwater Fish to Catch

Maybe you’ve been wondering, “What is the hardest fish to catch based on size and strength?” If that’s the case, consider the fact that blue marlin can exceed 14 feet in length and 1,500 pounds. This amazing pelagic species is capable of impressive leaps (often multiple leaps in quick succession) and high-speed dives when hooked, which is why blue marlin are among the toughest fish to catch and are often pursued by offshore saltwater big game anglers worldwide.

Trolling Techniques for Hard to Catch Fish

Trolling from an offshore sportfishing boat with either live baits or rigged dead baits (such as ballyhoo or flying fish) is one of the most common techniques for targeting blue marlin, but rubber skirted lures or plugs can be used to troll for this challenging offshore species as well. In general, trolling speeds for blue marlin range from 6.5 to 8.5 knots and they can be found as shallow as 250 feet and anywhere deeper than 250 feet.

Reeling in the Hardest Fish to Catch

As you might imagine, reeling in a “grander” (a blue marlin that weighs a thousand pounds or more) is no easy feat. Keeping constant pressure on the fish is so important to prevent the fish from tossing the hook out of its mouth during a leap or headshake. Once you successfully reel the fish up to the final 50 feet, you will have to “pump and reel” by raising the rod about 15 degrees and then reeling very fast for one turn of the crank as you lower the rod tip back down 15 degrees. You’ll have to rapidly repeat this process until the last of the line is gained and the leader is touched by the mate or a fellow angler who is assisting with the catch.

Now you know the answer to the question, “What is the hardest fish to catch?” You also know why the blue marlin deserves the title of the hardest fish to catch in the world of offshore big game sportfishing. If you want to switch gears from saltwater fishing to freshwater fishing, you can learn about hard to catch river fish or get tips for freshwater river fishing.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.