Building a Simple Sailfish Leader

How to make a simple live-bait leader for South Florida sailfish.
Hunter Ledbetter
Atlantic sailfish invade South Florida's waters in the cooler months and drift-fishing live baits is an easy way to get in on the action. Here is a simple fluorocarbon leader that anyone can tie, and it's very effective in landing this acrobatic pelagic, whether drifting baits or fishing from kites. All photos by Hunter Ledbetter
Start by tying a Bimini Twist in your monofilament main line.
Connect the end of the Bimini twist to a length of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader using aUni-to-Uni knot. It's very important to trim the tag ends of this knot as close as possible, because loose ends can catch on the line or rod guides when casting and retrieving baits.
Measure out 15 to 20 feet of leader by pulling out three arm-spans of line.
Tie a 5/0 circle hook on to your leader with a simple Clinch Knot. Trim the tag end and make sure that the knot is neat and tight.
When drift-fishing, a big, lively pilchard is king, but a goggle-eye, threadfin herring or ballyhoo will work as well.
Hook the bait right above the upper lip, through the nostrils. These baits are fragile and will need to swim as naturally as possible so handle with care.
Watch for the a raised sail coming in on your baits as you drift. Be patient, as it's not uncommon for a sailfish to miss one or two baits only to pick up the third. After you've hooked up, remember to fight the fish to the boat as quickly as possible for a healthy release.

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