Rather than offer a roundup of lures designed to catch fishermen first and billfish second, we polled a cross section of the world’s top marlin-chasing captains for their favorites. These specific brands, models and colors are the ones they rely on — from Australia and Bermuda to the Bahamas, Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico and beyond — to produce bites.
Capt. Gerard “Frothy” DeSilva, Pesca Grossa
The Ruckus is an aggressive, hard slant-head lure that carries air below the surface to create lots of commotion. DeSilva fishes it on the fourth wave off the short corner. When targeting big blue marlin in Madeira, he uses the XXL size, but he prefers the large size when fishing for smaller blues in the Caribbean. The blue, white and pink color combination has never disappointed him.
Fathom Offshore Pepal Grande
Capt. Matt Mauldwin, Click Through
Gulf of Mexico, United States
A flat, chubby head allows the Pepal Grande to run well in all sea conditions, with an undulating effect marlin love. Armed with an 11/0 single-hook stiff rig, Mauldwin runs this lure from the short-rigger position on a tag line. The Pepal Grande in the Alive Dolphin color pattern has accounted for more than 50 percent of his marlin bites, even catching eight consecutive blues in one stretch.
Capt. Milton Pichardo, Teaser
With a very unique action thanks to its angled head, the Polu Diver is irresistible to all pelagic species, especially blue marlin. With Aruban seas averaging in the 5-foot range, Pichardo finds that minor adjustments — a bit longer or shorter, up or down with the outrigger halyard — is just enough fine-tuning to get these lures to swim properly in nearly any sea condition he encounters during a busy charter season. Purple-and-silver is his go-to color.
Pakula Paua Hothead Mosquito
Capt. Laurie Wright, Australian Fishing Expeditions
The Mosquito packs a big punch in a small footprint. Tiny by big-game-lure standards, it is easy for a fish to home in on, which is a handy trait when targeting small blue marlin. When Wright was fishing in the National Game Fishing Titles in Papua New Guinea, the smaller class of marlin called for a more diminutive lure. Evil Angel is his preferred color pattern.
Moyes Lures Dark-N-Stormy
Capt. Bull Tolson, Sea Toy
Oregon Inlet, North Carolina
The Dark-N-Stormy is a double-tapered plunger with realistic taxidermy-style eyes. Although he is a huge Joe Yee fan, Tolson quickly names the Dark-N-Stormy in black, purple and pink as his next favorite lure. Fished from the long rigger with a double hook-set, it is a deadly weapon in Sea Toy’s Bermuda spread.
Aloha Lures Smash Bait
Capt. Ross Finlayson, Bounty Hunter
The Smash Bait from Aloha Lures is the one to pull for big fish. Used as a bridge teaser or hook bait, the Smash’s assertive bevel gives it a tumultuous in-water presentation. “This one is a freak for getting bites,” says Finlayson, who adds that both black and blue marlin love it. Running it in any position, Finlayson has brought several near-granders to the leader using a blue-and-green-skirted Smash Bait.
Capt. Chris Donato, Benchmark
Kona, Hawaii Blue Breakfast is just what the name implies: a breakfast snack for a blue marlin. Running from the short or long corner, this lure produces 90 percent of Donato’s big-fish bites. He rigs it with a single hook pinned down to eliminate some of the bill-wrapping that comes with such an active lure. A Blue Breakfast was responsible for a 1,025-pound blue marlin he caught from amid a school of tuna the fish was feeding on. Donato’s favorite skirt color is pink-and-yellow rainbow under black.
Capt. Skipper Gentry, Carolina Gentleman
Able to run well in any position, in any sea, and at any speed, this lure from Pakula is a sure bet. Gentry likes to run his single-hook-rigged Sprockets from the short rigger. Chugging behind the right flat and a bridge teaser, plenty of blue marlin — from North Carolina and the Bahamas to Australia — consistently paddle in but rarely fade off.
He relies on the green-lumo color pattern to produce bites.
Capt. Fin Gaddy, Qualifier
Oregon Inlet, North Carolina
Rigged with a 9/0 or 10/0 Southern-style tuna hook, the Trojan is perfect for blue marlin in the 100- to 300-pound-class range, as well as gaffer-size dolphin and big wahoo. The lure also swims well at slower speeds, allowing you to capitalize on a picky blue that turns down a natural bait. Gaddy says the Trojan, fished from the short rigger or short shotgun positions, has a better hookup percentage on the smaller class of blue marlin he sees on the East Coast. The yellowfin color pattern gets the nod on most days.