Part 1: Daniel vs. Sailfish at Kuala Rompin

Kuala Rompin is the sailfish fishing destination in Malaysia. Many international billfish tournaments take place in Kuala Rompin. The sailfish are available all year around in Kuala Rompin. There are many boats for charter in Kuala Rompin that specialise in Sailfish. The charter boat captains can take you there and assist you with your fishing tackle when engaging a sailfish. Our friend Daniel quite recently embarked on a sailfish fishing adventure on a fisihing boat charter from Kuala Rompin. Probably one good outing for fishing in Malaysia.

By Daniel

The sailfish is a gamefish that almost all angler would like to fight at least once in their lives. Fortunately for us Malaysians they can be found off  the waters of Rompin. This means that we need not travel to faraway lands to fish for this magnificent fish. 


A group of 6 anglers, me included started our journey in the evening on Friday, 29th August. We arrived at Kuala Rompin around 1030pm stopping by earlier in Bahau for dinner. After getting our homestay keys, we unpacked, prepared our gears and went of to bed.

Day 1, the hunt for sailfish

We gathered at the jetty around 720am for breakfast and set off somewhere around 8. Our boatman for the day was Ah Liang who is no stranger amongst the sailfish anglers in Rompin. He has appeared in R&L a couple of times if I’m not mistaken. 


The best boatman, provided you can book him. We started off with sabiki for baitfish and after about 10 minutes, we had more than enough for the day. I passed him my rod, he rigged up a selar and released the balloon about 30-40 feet from the boat. He proceeded to setup the second rod while I turned around to get a drink. 

As I was looking for my bottle, our boatman shouted “che dao lia che dao liao” or in English…..”FISH ON!!!!!”.

When I turned around, the sailfish was already tailwalking starboard side. Now thats what I call quick. Grabbed my rod and started recovering slack like a mad man. Once my line was taut, I gradually increased my drag as the sail made its first run and it was game on!! 

Reeling ’em in

The fight only lasted somewhere around 10 minutes but it did dive under the boat as I dragged it back to the boat but that was nothing Ah Liang could not handle as he maneuvered my rod to the other side. After landing it, a quick photo and the fish was safely released still full of strength because of the short fighting duration.

A good start we thought, but we were so wrong. It took us almost a few more hours till we hit the 2nd sail around 130pm after changing 2 more locations. 

Now here’s the reason. The Merdeka weekend was the only weekend our whole group was free and with the long weekend ahead, there were bound to be many boats out that day and we were not wrong. 

Basically we had no choice la due work commitments. True enough, that morning our boatman told us that there will be 22 boats out fishing for sailfish around Pulau Berhala. At 330pm Ah Liang said he will now resort to his ultimate technique and if this doesn’t get us any sails, we’re screwed. 

So what is his ultimate technique? Live bait trolling. We decided to fish away from Berhala and started trolling live baits in a radius where there were a few boats. Quite a big radius I must say. And the results? 3 more sails in less than 1.5 hours!!!! 

Mr. Lee
004 Jason

Again nothing less from one of the best boatman in Rompin. We ended the day with 5 sails landed and only 2 thrown hooks. It was not a good day out for sailfish due to the number of boats. Five was kinda crap but hearing the constant chatter (constant chatter means no fish) over the radio from the other boats, I think we did mighty fine. Most only landed 1 or 2, some none even.

For the gear heads out there, my setup was a Zen Versatile 7’3” PE 2-4 popping paired with a Daiwa Catalina 4000 spooled with 300m of 30lb Suffix 832. Leader was an FG of 24 feet, Alpha EX 70lb. Hook used was Gamakatsu Circle Hook size 4/0. 

005 Maverick
Mr. Maverick
006 John
Mr. John

For those who intend to fish for sails, it is not necessary to tie your own leader or what not. Just have a heavy duty swivel at the end of your main line and have it on standby. The boatman will tie everything for you but you would have to bring your own hooks. 

I on the other had my FG all pre-tied and when on the boat, I tied my hook directly to the end of my leader while we were bait fishing. This makes handling and maneuvering the fish easier when it's boat side since I can wind my leader all the way into my reel without having to worry about the swivel. 

Again there's no right or wrong and the boatman knows best anyways. Most people have a swivel attached for ease of preparations and rod transport as well as storage on the boat. Even if you have a swivel attached the boatman will help you maneuver the fish. 

If you're 110% confident of your own knots, then go ahead. If you want security just in case you might lose that fish of your lifetime, then let the boatman do it for you. 

The plus side of having a snap on leader is the ease of changing the leader since after each sail, your leader will fray quite a considerably length. This also enables you to change to lures, jigs or whatnot easily if it's not your turn for the sails rather than having to cut off your hook, tie a snap, then when it's your turn again, re-tie the hook. Some might find that cumbersome. Again, it's all a matter of personal preference.


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