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Big Island Style "Flag Line Fishing".

Updated on December 8, 2009

Big Island Flag line Setup.

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Basket full of 5/8" or 1/2" Poly rope.  Every 50-100 feet of the rope a loop is made where the floater and the hook is connected.Snap on swivel is placed on the end of the hook line and also on every floater.Another picture of floater and hook clipped on the poly rope.60lb Ulua caught by Flag Line.Note bamboo pole for the flag line rope.A famous spot on the island for Fishing.
Basket full of 5/8" or 1/2" Poly rope.
Basket full of 5/8" or 1/2" Poly rope.
Every 50-100 feet of the rope a loop is made where the floater and the hook is connected.
Every 50-100 feet of the rope a loop is made where the floater and the hook is connected.
Snap on swivel is placed on the end of the hook line and also on every floater.
Snap on swivel is placed on the end of the hook line and also on every floater.
Another picture of floater and hook clipped on the poly rope.
Another picture of floater and hook clipped on the poly rope.
60lb Ulua caught by Flag Line.
60lb Ulua caught by Flag Line.
Note bamboo pole for the flag line rope.
Note bamboo pole for the flag line rope.
A famous spot on the island for Fishing.
A famous spot on the island for Fishing.

Big island Flag Line fishing

The flag line style fishing was originally invented/created on the Big Island by local fisherman's. We cannot really say who invented it or when but we can indeed say it is a Big Island thing. It is a style that anglers use the wind to take the rope, trash bag, floaters, and baited hooks out to the sea from 100-800 yards off shore or even further. Most local anglers know that the further your line goes out and the more of baited hooks, the better the odds of you catching fish like Ahi(tuna), Mahi mahi(dolphin), Ono(wahoo), Marlin, and the most popular trophy fish....the Ulua(jack fish) from shore. It is really incredible how this style of fishing was thought of! It is common to hear flag line fishermen catching 100lb ahi or 200lb Marlin from the shore on the Big Island not to mention the Mahi Mahi and Ulua's. This style of fishing is by far the most productive then any other style of fishing. There is some controversy regarding the "flag line style". Some anglers feel that it is a cheating way of fishing. Other say this style will deplete the ocean and some has said it is dangerous for boaters for if the rope is not seen the rope could do damage the boat propeller causing the boat to be inoperable. From my experience and from what i have noticed....the lack of ones knowledge of this style and jealousy has something to do with it too but regardless of ones is a cleaver way of fishing!

Flag Line Gear needed:

1) Poly Rope (rope must be floatable)

2) Trash bags (extra strength)

3) Duck tape

4) Spool of 40-80lb test line(Cheapest mono line you can find w/ 100yards of line or more)

5) Snap on Swivels (as much as needed for the gallon floaters and the baited hooks)

6) Wire leader or Mono line for the leader baited hooks. The size of the leader is preference

7) Ulua or Tuna circle hooks ( size of hooks is also preference)

8) Gallon floaters

9)Basket for all the rope

10) and a long bamboo pole about 12-15' long with a "Y or U" shape hook at the end of pole.

First step: Make sure your basket is large enough to hold all of the rope you decide to use. at the end of the rope make a knot that forms a loop. A basic knot will do. Now ever 50 feet (what ever distance you decide you want a baited hook) of the rope make another knot that forms a loop. Make sure you make the knot tight enough so it doesn't unravel. If you decide to send out 5 baited hooks, then you will need 6 knotted loops. I will explain what the extra loop is for later.

Second step: Attach the snap on swivel to one end of the wire leader or mono and the other end with the desired hook. The length of the leader (wire or mono) depends on the area you are fishing. If where you are fishing is deep then the leader can be long. If it is shallow water then make the leader shorter. I usually make my leaders about 6-15 feet long.

Third step: Attach another snap on swivel to your floaters with rope, string or wire.

Fourth step: Find a place on the shore where your bamboo pole be standing up in a 45 degree angle towards the ocean and the direction of the rope out to see. Usually i just find a hole in the rocks or maybe some kind of stand. Note: the more rope you let out the more of tension there will be on the rope so the bamboo needs to be in a very secured stand of hole.

Fifth step: Take a heavy duty trash bag and fill it up with air then close it off by tying a knot. (usually we use 3 trash bags but it is also preference). Then duck tape the knot. Then get your spool of 40-80lb test mono line and tie it to the trash bag by rapping it about 10 times around the duck tape then tie a knot so it don't slip off. The reason for the duck tape is to protect the trash bag from ripping because the 40-80lb test line mono will be tied to it tightly.

sixth step: Bait your hooks.

Now you are ready to fish!

Throw or allow the trash bag to catch the wind blowing out to see at the same time letting the 40-80lb test mono out off the spool. Once the trash bag is about 100 yards out, cut the mono line and attach it to the end of the looped rope (this is the extra loop i was talking about earlier that is needed). Now start letting the rope out until the next loops reaches you. Now snap on the baited hook swivel to the loop and also snap on one of your floaters. Now let the rope out again as it pulls the floater and the baited hook out to sea. Keep letting out the rope until you reach the next loop and do the same thing you did earlier. Once you have all your fifth baited hook and floater out, you determine how much further you want the rope to go out.

Now put the rope between the "U or V shape" hook that is at the end of your bamboo pole, then stand the pole up into the 45 degree position. This will help with keeping your line away from the breaking wave or rocks below. Then tie the of the rope to a peg in the ground. This is so if something big bites it doesn't take your whole basket of line into the ocean.

Now just sit back and watch your floater periodically. If you have 5 floaters out then below it is your 5 baited hooks so if something bites your floater will bounce or completely go under water. When the fish is BIG...all the floaters will come together and sometimes the rest of the floater will go under too. That's another indication you have something on.  Another indication is when your banboo pole starts to bend.  If you see this...start pulling in the rope and land what you have on. Remember sometimes Marlin takes the bait so be prepared and have leather gloves on for the rope will rip out of your hand as you pull it in.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      How much Poly Rope and what size? Also, will the salt water eat thru this in time?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Aloha Hawaiian Boy,

      What size reel and what pound test should I use at South Point? I use a spinning reel with 60 pound braided line with a fluoro leader other places.



    • profile image

      Hawaiian Boy 

      8 years ago

      No worry about other local fishermens. Just do what all local people do....respect others and you will have no problem. ALoha!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      If I wanted to come down to Southpoint and fish like that, would it be okay or would local fisherman not like it if I fished down there?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      ho bah, i think you should let the people who are going to be first time triers to also always watch when wind patterns and currents are pulling left or right to keep an eye out so nothing gets tangled with other fishermans lines. :-) Just some common fishing courtesy. Mahalo'z!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I used to do this with my brother-in-law back in the 70's. We would go to South Point or down to Road to the sea, down near Manuka. This was a great way to catch Uku as well as big Kaku. Living on Maui now, building a new rig and hope to eat well from it.

    • profile image

      Hawaiian boy 

      10 years ago

      We contacted DLNR regarding flag line fishing in the past and we were told that flag line is 100% legal. DLNR also stated that the rope can go as far as 1 mile out with no limit of hooks however it doesn't pertain to the harbor areas.

      I have flaged line in HPP before but it is totally different compared to south point. I south point you use the wind to carry the rope out but in HPP you must use the current line because of the trade winds blowing against you. Using the current is not as easy compared to using the wind. It takes a lot of patients. There were times when it took me almost 2 hours to get all my line out.

      If you never used the current before...let me know and i will tell you what to do.

      Go get'em brah!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      HI I was just wonderin if flagline is illegal anywhere on the Big Island. I live in Kaloli along the cliffs and wanted to give it a try over here. after some good success down southpoint side wanna try out the cliffs and see what get?

    • Hawaiian Boy profile imageAUTHOR

      Hawaiian Boy 

      10 years ago from Hawaii

      Yes you are right it is a Trevally. Yes some say the same when it comes to eating bigger Trevally but for me i don't notice the difference as far as eating a 10lb'er vs a 100lb'er. Both to me taste the same. If there is a differnece i don't notice it. Here in Hawaii they eat it no matter what size. A lot of the locals eat it raw like shashimi or Poke but also frying it. The Ulua here in Hawaii is a major trophy fish and every fisherman pray that one day they will land a 100 plus pounder. It is so huge here we have tournaments all the time in the islands in fact there is an Ulua Tournament going on right now and the winner who catches a 170lb Ulua or bigger wins a Dodge 2500 diesel truck. In Australia there must be big Ulua too. Maybe one day i will be able to travel there and fish for it. Aloha!

    • LeonJane profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      Interesting way of fishing, we call the Jack Fish by the name of Trevally here in Australia. The one in the photo looks like a Giant Trevally, we catch them on light gear for sport/fun and throw them back because when they get too large they are not good eating.


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