How to catch tailor

Rigs and Techniques

A long, light spinning rod and spinning reel with 6-10kg line and 15kg-plus mono leader will do fine for most situations, though you may wish to alter this depending on the location you’re fishing. With smaller tackle or hooks, using a short length of wire leader can stop break offs on the tailor’s razor sharp teeth.

There are a whole variety of ways to catch tailor, but the most common is a slow retrieval of whole pilchards, mulies or garfish on a gang hook rig. This may require a floating sinker or a float depending on the conditions you are fishing in.

Tailor tend to feed high in the water column so poppers can be quite effective and so can other lures such as minnows, metal/ chrome lures, jigs and spoons. These lures can be cast into the surf zone or to structure and either trolled or retrieved with flicks of the rod tip to create lure movement. Tailor often feed more actively at dawn and dusk.

Tailor fishing in the Swan can also be very rewarding, especially in the summer when the waters heat up. Tailor often will school in the smaller “chopper” sized fish. This is good opportunity to bring out the ultra light gear and small lures and have some fun.

A bit of chop on the water is generally what you want when targetting tailor, and for metro beaches the arrival of the afternoon sea breeze in summer can be the start of the chopper  tailor bite.

Lure fishing for tailor can be very fun and rewarding with many spots in the metro and around WA producing great sized fish. Some tips to keep in mind when fishing for tailor using lures:

  • If you are fishing really reefy areas, try make use of poppers and lures that don’t sink quickly as you can get snagged very easily.
  • A few different lures and poppers such as the GT ice-creams come with assist hooks (cords) which tailor can easily bite through. Best practice is to remove the cord and replace it with a split ring or swivel.
  • Consider investing in a set of fast-attach swivels to be able to switch lures quickly without retying knots.

Need a WA fishing licence? Don’t forget to check if you do before heading out.


Other names

Pomatomus saltatrix, chopper, greenback.

WA Distribution

Found between Point Quobba in the north and the South Australian border in the south (although usually only targeted as far south as Albany). They are found in estuaries, embayments and surf beaches as juveniles and beaches, inshore reefs and other structures especially around white water as adults.


Tailor are not usually confused with other species; they have a blue-green back and silver-white underside and the first of their two dorsal fins has many small spines. They have a distinctive protruding lower jaw and numerous small, sharp teeth. Tailor can reach sizes of 10kg; however most are caught at between 0.5 and 2kg.

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