“When you put the boat in gear, the lines come up, and when you put it in neutral, they sink back down, essentially deep jigging,” Smith says, “to both give baits motion and cover a wider depth range.”
“The best opportunity to catch a swordfish is somewhere around 1,500 feet,” Boyle says. This includes the newest emerging fishery in 5,000‑foot depths off Southern California, but like all fishing, there are no guarantees. Boyle fished for two days off Ocean City, Maryland, without a sword bite. “A boat caught a swordfish while live-baiting for marlin in 300 feet. We went to that spot, drew a straight line toward deep water, dropped 1,200 feet, and hooked up. The swords were eating those same tinker mackerel,” he says.