Logging In
Invalid username or password.
Incorrect Login. Please try again.

not a member?

Signing up could earn you gear and it helps to keep offensive content off of our site.

October 01, 2013

South Florida Swordfishing Techniques

Specialized tactics for an incredible fishery off Florida’s glamour coast

Bonus Tip: Backward Trolling for Swordfish

Capt. Jay Cohen, of in Miami, trolls backward for swordfish. Believe it! Below, he explains his technique:

Cohen: We typically have to fish through the strong Gulf Stream current, so South Florida daytime swordfish fishermen have developed a few specialized techniques. 

We deploy the rig into the water facing north. As we pay out the, line I will run the boat north at about 10 knots with the current. Once the bait is below the current, about 600 feet down, we stop our forward movement. 

Next, we spin the boat around to the south and start heading into the current. The goal is to get the line straight down off the back of the boat.

Once we hit the bottom we bring the bait up about 100 feet. Every few minutes we will pay out line to find bottom again, then come back up 100 feet. Sometimes when the current is running fast we will have nearly 3,000 plus feet of line off the reel to hold the bottom in 1,800 feet of water. Eventually you find the “sweet spot,” the amount of line belly that keeps the bait in position.

The ultimate goal is to have the bait trolling just above the bottom at about 1.5 knots. To achieve this we will move the boat south into the current at about 1.5 to 3.5 knots. The net result is the boat and bait will be going north or “backward” at 1.5 knots. 

To maintain this all day I like to use my electronics. I will set my chart plotter with a course line and an indicator telling me were I will be in two minutes. This helps me maintain a proper course and speed at a glance. Once I find the right heading that keeps us moving the correct direction against the current and prevailing wind I will engage the autopilot to help maintain course. 

Below is a diagram of backward trolling by Capt. Jay Cohen:

swordfish diagram

About the Captains:

Dean Panos

Captain Dean Panos is the owner and operator of Double D Charters in North Miami. Fishing South Florida and Bahamian waters for the last 25 years, Panos regular targets swordfish, sailfish, kingfish, wahoo, tarpon, dolphin, tunas and various other species. His specialties include kite fishing, live-bait fishing, and daytime and evening swordfishing. He fishes out of a 34-foot SeaVee powered by twin Mercury Verados.

Phone: (954) 805-8231| Website: 





Jay CohenCaptain Jay Cohen worked his way through four years at Tulane University in Louisiana by working on charter fishing boats out of Venice and Grand Isle. Fishing mostly off Miami Beach and the Bahamas these days, Cohen estimates his charter boat Spellbound takes about 450 half-day charters a year. His top targets include swordfish, dolphin, kingfish, tilefish, sharks and numerous reef species. Besides fishing, Cohen enjoys sharing the knowledge and experiences that he has gained over the years.

Phone: (305) 785-0552 | Website: 


For more information on fishing in Florida, go to Visit Florida.