Widespread and accessible, sailfish are one of the most popular game fish for anglers among bluewater pelagic species in the tropical and subtropical waters of Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Even though there is only one species of sailfish (I. platypterus), the IGFA lists separate categories for Atlantic and Pacific, the latter growing larger. The all-tackle world record for a sailfish caught in the Pacific: 221 pounds (Ecuador, 1947); for a sailfish from the Atlantic: 142 pounds, 6 ounces (Angola, 2014).
Iconic for their distinctive high, blue dorsal fins, sailfish generally live offshore but near coasts, often over deeper reefs. They are a migratory species, often locally available on a seasonal basis—and almost always released. On appropriately light tackle, sailfish put on memorable aerobatic displays when hooked. In the authoritative list of the world’s top 100 game fish, the Atlantic sailfish ranked 10th and (by virtue of its larger size), the Pacific sail came in 8th.