Where Are the Big Marlin

Modern advances could soon lead to that next record
A black and white image of Alfred Glassell standing next of a large record black marlin.
Alfred Glassell’s 1,560-pound black marlin from Cabo Blanco, Peru is the All-Tackle record for the species. Courtesy IGFA / igfa.org

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There are many who believe that the largest marlin might not be capable of being caught. I have heard this for many years, and there are plenty of stories to back up that theory.

The IGFA records on 130-pound-test line include the largest marlin ever landed—Alfred Glassell’s black from Peru, which weighed 1,560 pounds and was caught in 1953. The Pacific blue marlin record is a Kona fish that weighed 1,376 pounds from 1982, and the Atlantic blue marlin record is 1,402 pounds and was caught in 1992—the most recent of the three, and yet it’s still more than 30 years ago. We have yet to land a marlin weighing more than 2,000 pounds, but there are plenty of stories of those who have seen one in their spread or actually hooked a giant, only to have it get away.

It’s interesting though because we have come such a long way since those early days in nearly every aspect of fishing. We have better reels with smoother drags, spools that don’t spread under pressure, abrasion-resistant line and braid to help cut through the water better. The rods are constructed of space-age ­materials and are virtually ­unbreakable. Fluorocarbon leaders now test up to 800 pounds or more. Crimps and knots are tested and retested, and some lures are truly works of art, from the balanced and highly polished heads to the ­colorful skirts—they do a great job of attracting both fish and fishermen.

A black and white image of four people standing next to a large record blue marlin.
Kona, Hawaii, is home to the Pacific blue marlin All-Tackle mark, a 1,376-pounder which was caught in 1982. Courtesy IGFA / igfa.org

We also have some of the best hooks ever made, although we still break a few too many J hooks in lures. Using circle hooks, our hookup ratios are at an all-time high. The only advantage with a few of those old records was that we could use J hooks and drop back until we hooked the fish deeply, but we also used heavy wire leaders back then, which could also easily kink and break during the fight.

Today’s electronics are the real advantage. With GPS and integrated satellite charts, you can pretty much locate the best fishing spots before you even leave the dock, and then there’s the ultimate weapon: sonar. There’s no hiding from the omni, unless it’s super-rough, but we can even keep the boat stable with a gyro. We have the best fighting chairs and the most ­comfortable harnesses, and some great instruction on how to use all that gear to the angler’s maximum advantage—thank you, Capt. Peter B. Wright for that.

The world is also getting a lot smaller, thanks to mothership operations and boats with longer range and more-comfortable accommodations. We can fish in so many different places than ever before, and we know there are some giants waiting for us out there. When all of this knowledge, experience and the right tackle comes together, we might be out of excuses!

Read Next: These are the largest of the IGFA marlin records from around the world.

So why do the big ones keep eluding us? Is it because the big marlin have seen all of this stuff, or do they just feel comfortable staying below the thermocline with plenty to eat? Or is it because when you are in a tournament, you are most likely fishing for points with light tackle and are outgunned when you raise a big one?

We know that someone out there is going to catch a giant marlin soon with all these technological improvements. But who will it be, and where?

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