Targeting tailor
  |  First Published: June 2009

This month we will be talking about tailor because we’re coming into the time of the year when you are most likely to catch them.

Tailor have the scientific name Pomatomus saltatrix. They have a narrow body like a mullet but they also have razor sharp teeth. They follow schools of baitfish and will often indulge in feeding frenzies, to the point where they will eat only half a baitfish before attacking another alive one. When the tailor are really excited like this they will strike at almost any bait or lure.

Tailor are very nice to eat, usually put up a good fight on light gear and you can catch them in many different ways.


The three best methods of catching tailor are trolling lures or bait behind a boat, throwing soft plastics (especially at the mouths of estuaries or from ocean rocks) and bait fishing from the beach.

When baitfishing, the best whole baits to use are small fish such as silver and blue pilchards, sea garfish, frog-mouth pilchards, river garfish, yellowtail and slimy mackerel. Fillets of mullet, tuna and even tailor will also entice them to bite.

For small tailor, tiny white pilchards and frogmouth pilchards are best. When you are using bait for tailor, you should not try to hook them too fast and you should be patient. Tailor are mainly surface feeders so try to keep your bait, soft plastic or lure near the surface. It’s usually best to fish for tailor when there is a bit of current and when you see baitfish around.

Throwing lures from a boat or rocks will often lead to large tailor, but throwing soft plastics is my favourite way of catching these fish. I use my flick stick for that and a gold and brown Squidgy soft plastic. Tailor love movement, so the more movement in your lure or soft plastic, the better. Just remember to put some pauses in your retrieve so the tailor can have a go at your lure.


Headlands, rocks, reef, sand and break walls are favourite haunts of tailor, especially where there is white water. When fishing from the rocks it is a good idea to berley with a mixture of bread and pilchards. Scatter handfuls in the wash and on the lower rocks. This will keep the tailor biting longer and will often attract other species such as bream, drummer, black kingfish, and snapper.

When you are beach fishing for tailor, you’ll find they are constantly on the move and may stay in a gutter or hole off the beach for only a short time before moving on. Holes are pockets of deeper water scooped by waves and tide, while gutters are longer channels of deeper water, sometimes running the entire length of a beach. Both formations are easy to spot because the water in them appears darker.

Fishing a rip can produce a lot of tailor as well, as they like to eat the small baitfish carried out by the water. It can be difficult to fish though because of the fast flowing water.

The best times to fish for tailor are dawn and dusk, although night fishing may occasionally produce bigger than average sized fish. Tailor also seem to stay on the bite longer on overcast mornings. Some anglers feel that fishing the ebb tide and the first of the run-in provides the best chance of catching these fish, but they can still be caught at other times.

Tailor fishing must be described as patchy. No matter how good the conditions are, it is almost impossible to guarantee where they will be. Tailor can move into an area and stay a week, or move on almost immediately. Still, if you persist you should enjoy some great fishing.

When you have caught a tailor and unhooked it, you should bleed the fish by cutting its throat with a knife or breaking its neck (you may want Mum or Dad to help the first couple of times). Tailor taste a lot better when they have been bled, especially if you put them into icy saltwater afterwards.

Reads: 56278

Matched Content ... powered by Google

Latest Articles

Fishing Monthly Magazines On Instagram

Digital Editions

Read Digital Editions

Current Magazine - Editorial Content

Western Australia Fishing Monthly
Victoria Fishing Monthly
Queensland Fishing Monthly