Kona Marlin Lure Fishing Techniques

Kona Hawaii Blue Marlin Fishing Techniques

Blue Marlin are the most sought after big game fish in the world. Their explosive strikes, incredible aerial acrobatics and awesome strength are a great test of an angler and their skills. There are two main ways to catch Blue Marlin in Kona. One method is trolling lures (this technique developed in Hawaii). It is the most popular and the most productive way to Blue Marlin fish. I will start with this technique.

Trolling lures requires two main skill sets. One is to set out the proper lures. The second is to go the proper speed with a lure spread that give the lures action without having them flying out of the water. These lures imitate bait fish going through the water which entices the strikes. Blue Marlin are opportunistic feeders. By that, I mean the feed on a wide variety of fish. While their main diet consists of skipjack tuna, they will also feed on most every other fish they can catch and swallow.

I have seen Blue Marlin attacking and eating 40 lb Spearfish, 30 lb yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, mahi mahi, wahoo and and 6 inch flying fish. Therefore, we want to run a variety of lures with different actions to maximize our fishing efforts. Kona charter boats generally run five rods and reels while trolling. This means that five lures are in the water at all times. They are designated as short corner, long corner, short rigger, long rigger and stinger.

Here are a variety of lures:

The number one question I get is “aren’t we going too fast”? Let’s get that question out of the way very quickly. No, we are not going too fast. Specifically, we troll at about 8.2 mph, or 8 knots. Blue Marlin have been clocked at 70 mph, so no, we aren’t going too fast. A few boats will even put out two lures while running at 20 knots going to a specific area. Listen, having a Blue Marlin slam a lure while going 20 mph is like hooking a Mac truck going the other direction. It is spectacular.

The closest lure to the boat is one the short corner. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “isn’t that lure too close to the boat”. No it is NOT! Generally the biggest lure is run closest to the boat because it causes more commotion and is easily visible to the marlin. Many experienced Captains think the biggest attractor of the marlin is the noise and white water of the boat going through the water. One illustration. I personally was bringing in a lure to the boat, grabbed the leader to take the lure out of the water, only to have a Blue grab the lure 3 feet from the boat and rip the leader right out of my hand. Generally the short corner lure is run on the second or third wake on the boat.

Here is a typical short corner lure. It is about 14 inches long

The long corner lure is on the opposite side of the boat on the 3rd or 4th wake. It probably is the most productive in terms of numbers of hits. The short rigger is on the 5th wake, the long rigger on the 6th wake and the stinger on the 7 or 8 wake. The smaller lures are generally run on the long rigger and stinger while the bigger lures are on the short corner, long corner and short rigger.

Here are typical lures run on the long rigger or stinger rods


Most lures are locally made here in Hawaii by some of the finest lure makers in the world. We take these lures, put skirts or vinyl on them and rig up a hook. So, the lure itself consists of the lure, skirts and hook or hooks.