Elagatis Bipinnulata



Offshore, Coastal Waters

15 - 37 pounds

42" - 47"

Rainbow Runner

Also Known As: Spanish-Jack, Yellow Tail Jack, Hawaiian Salmon

Rainbow Runner (Elagatis bipinnulata) Fish Description

Rainbow Runners are a species of Jack that are known for their seven colors that reflect off their bodies when the light hits them. In bad lighting, however, Rainbow Runners appear to be crystal blue in color. They are torpedo-shaped, allowing them to swim quickly with little resistance. Their dorsal and anal fins are short but run along the posterior. However, the dorsal fin starts at the midpoint of the body whereas the anal fin starts a little bit after. However, the dorsal fin appears to be split into two: one main fin and the other one is a tiny finlet which is at the base of the deeply forked tailfin. Its fins appear to be predominantly yellow.

The Rainbow Runner also has a bright blue lateral line that runs across its body which emphasizes the rainbow colors. Its whole body is made up of different colors. Dorsally, its body is olive green while the belly is white. Across its body, the Rainbow Runner also has bright yellow stripes.


Diet and Size

Rainbow Runners are fast swimmers so catching their prey is no problem. They’re piscivorous but they also eat their fair share of crustaceans such as shrimps and crab. They also enjoy making a feast out of cephalopods such as squids and octopi. However, they can be quite selective with their prey. Rainbow Runners will only choose prey that are smaller than them.

Rainbow Runners grow up to an average of 42-47 inches, almost 4 ft! For their average weight, they can weigh around 15-20 lbs. However, there was a record of a Rainbow Runner reaching 71 inches and weighing 37 lbs 9 oz.


Interesting Facts 

  • The Rainbow Runner is a popular game fish. They’re known to be spirited fighters.
  • Food quality-wise, Rainbow Runners can be enjoyed in different ways. Some enjoy them salted and dried. Others enjoy them fresh as sashimi.
  • They are quite a curious fish. Rainbow Runners would circle around divers when they’re nearby.
    • But they have a pretty short attention span too. After a few rounds, they swim off.
  • Usually, the larger Rainbow Runners swim solo which makes it harder for people to find.
  • Although they are not commercial fish, Rainbow Runners are often caught when people go out to fish for Tuna.
  • Some anglers use Rainbow Runners as bait for other fishes such as the Marlins (Black, Striped, Blue, and White) and even for Tunas!


Fishing Techniques: How to Fish for a Rainbow Runner

When catching a Rainbow Runner, anglers often recommend using cut bait. They use cut bait made from squids, octopi, or any crustacean that has some semblance to their food. Other times, anglers also use live bait in order to take advantage of the Rainbow Runner’s curious personality.

As for equipment, some people use surface popping lures. The surface popping lure skips across the water as if mimicking another kind of fish. Since Rainbow Runners can be piscivorous, they’ll definitely have a good look at the lure. 

As to when you should catch them, some people recommend catching them in the early morning and late afternoon when they’re out in the open. However, tracking them is another story. Most of the time, they’ll be found being preyed on by some sharks so you’ll definitely have some competition. Also, using heavy tackle equipment will increase your chances as it’ll tire out the fish before it tires you out.


Habitat and Distribution

Rainbow Runners if you’re looking for the larger ones are near Mexico. From the Western Atlantic, they usually appear near Bermuda which is near the Northeastern part of Brazil. 

They stay near rocks and reef systems. Especially when they’re spawning, most of their spawn stays near the surface. However, Rainbow Runners are also known for lurking near water columns. They also sometimes appear in lagoons where people can easily fish them out.

Other Images of Rainbow Runner