Needlefish (Batalay)

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Scientific name: Strongylura gigantea
      Another fish for the angler who wants to do battle with a leaper is the "aha", or giant needle fish (Stongylura gigantea). It jumps repeatedly from the time it is hooked until it is landed. What’s more, it gets big enough to put a very strong fight on spinning tackle. I once caught an "aha" that was 49 inches long.
      The giant needlefish is well named. It is long, slender, silver and pointed. Its upper jaw is like a marlin bill, and so its lower. Together, they create an odd beak-like appearance. Both jaws are lined by rows of sharp teeth. The head of a needlefish is even more vicious-looking than the head of a barracuda. The barracuda, at least hides its teeth when it closes its mouth. The needlefish, on the other hand, never seems to close its mouth.
       Its sharp teeth and long strong body make it dangerous to handle. The safest place to grab it is behind the head. But when you do, be prepared for the fish to lash its body from side to side. It’s wise to use a glove or at least a piece of cloth, when trying to hold the "aha".
       Those same long jaws make the "aha" hard to hook. When the needlefish attacks a bait, it grabs it with the middle of its beak. It clamps down on its food with its needle teeth and holds on for a few seconds before swallowing. You must wait until it swallows the bait before you can set the hook. If the needlefish feels the tension of the line, he’ll just open his jaws and let go.
       That’s why fishing with bait is better than fishing with lures. The needlefish spits the lure out almost as soon as he strikes it. Its jaws are so bony and hard that the hook has a difficult time trying to penetrate. But lures are effective and fun to use for "aha". I have caught them on small spoons and swimming plugs like the Rebels, Rapalas, Redfins, and Sea Bees. The hooks must be extremely sharp and you must jerk the line to set the hook as soon as you feel the strike.
        When you set the hook, the "aha" will instantly start leaping. You must play with him the lightest drag possible. Gentle pressure is the key. If you try to horse him in, you’ll put the hook loose. If you put too much pressure on him when he jumps, he’ll jerk the hook free. The needlefish will teach you patience.
         Hawaii’s is home to several kinds of needlefish, but the biggest and gamiest one is the giant Stongylura gigantea, as it is known to scientists. Where it occurs in other places around the world, it is called the "houndfish".
         You’ll find the "aha" at the surface in deep channels when the current is flowing away from shore. These lazy giants like to cruise back and forth across the current while they wait for it to bring them some unsuspecting bite of food.
         To fish for "aha" with lures, cast across the current and reel as fast as you can. The rapid movement of the lure will attract their attention. And the speed will also help you set the hook because the lure is already moving when the fist hits.
         To fish with bait, use a slim wooden bobber as a casting weight, then tie an 18-inch leader on behind with a small hook and a strip of squid or shrimp for bait. The wooden bobber will keep the bait right up at the surface. The slim shape will provide the least amount of resistance when the needlefish takes the bait.
         Cast the bobber and reel it slowly, just fast enough for the bait to travel along just under the surface. As soon as you feel the tug of the strike, relax the line to keep the fish from feeling any extra tension. The best way to do this quickly is to hold your rod parallel to the shore when you are reeling, then point the rod at the fish as soon as he strikes. This will give him four or five feet of loose line.
          Give the fish three or four seconds to gulp the bait then pull the rod back. If you’ve hooked him, he’ll go straight up into the air. Be sure you keep your bait moving. Needlefish don’t seem to like a drifting dead bait. They like action.
5 to 6 kgs. specimens are caught but average is 500 grams to 2 kgs.
Travelling time to fishing ground: 40 minutes to 2 hours  away from take-off point



Philippine Game Fishing Foundation Sportfishing Club
Philippine Game Fish Catch Records
Class Line Weight Date

Fishing Ground




Technique Rod Reel Line
Hook Weight Bait
15 lb class  rod spinning
15 lb nylon or
30 lb nylon 4/0 to 6/0
Plugs,Mop lure, skirts Combination Ballyhoo w/ skirt or
live shrimp