Tetrapturus Angustirostris



Open Water

115 pounds

75" - 91"

Shortbill Spearfish

Also Known As: Japanese Spearfish, Shortnosed Spearfish, Slender Spearfish  

Guides Who Fish This Species

Shortbill Spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris) Fish Description

Shortbill Spearfish is known under names such as the Short-nosed Spearfish, Slender spearfish and Japanese spearfish. 

They have a dark, black band across the upper part of the fish, and have a silverish-white color below it. Both its dorsal and ventral fins are close to stark black, but its anal fins are white in color. The inner surfaces of the pectoral fins and the tail are black but their outer surfaces are whitish.

To be able to distinguish the Shortbill spearfish from other relative species is by their lightweight and lean bodies. As with their names, they have the shortest bill amongst the other billfish and that their dorsal fins are >50% their bodies’ height, which is higher than a Marlin fish’s dorsal fin and lower than a Sailfish. 

In the comparison of the Shortbill spearfish to the Longbill, is that the Longbill spearfish has a bill twice the length of its lower jaw, whereas the Shortbill spearfish bill is scarcely longer than its own lower jaw. And common for all variations of the spearfish is that their dorsal is bright blue with no spots. 


Diet and Size

Shortbill Spearfish, such as the other spearfishes are considered to be surface feeders. And they primarily consume other small to medium-sized fish and squid.

Shortbill Spearfish can grow up to the lengths of 91 in., but most that are caught do not exceed the length of 75 in. Their maximum weight is recorded to be up to 115 lbs.


Interesting Facts about Shortbill Spearfish

  • Shortbill Spearfish, such as other spearfish are not often caught to be as game fish in most areas in the world as by the number of them are considered to be too low and often are a result as a “by-catch” when caught accidentally by other anglers targeting other billfish or by commercial fisheries for tuna. 
  • Spawning for the Shortbill Spearfish is believed to occur during the winter season, at areas of water with warm offshore currents reaching the surface temperature of around 25-degree celsius.
  • The Shortbill Spearfish matures at the age of two, and rarely lives past the age of 3. Though scientists are unsure due to limited data, it can be presumed that they can live at the maximum age of 4 to 5 years of age.
  • Shortbill Spearfish are considered to be edible, with a similar taste to White and Blue Marlin fish, but with a more pronounced taste over Tuna. It is one of the several species of billfish that are compatible for grilling and broiling. In Hawaii, the Shortbill spearfish, also known as Hebi, are considered to be “catch-of-the-day” items for their menus.
  • The IGFA realizes the stark differences among the spearfish species and they plan to formally recognize their distinction as they aren’t opposed to that idea.


Fishing Techniques

There are methods you can try to catch a Shortbill Spearfish. First, the Pelagic Longline, a method most often used when attempting to catch tuna or swordfish in the open seas. It requires a deep-set longline or a shallow-set long line with baited hooks attached to floating lines on the ocean by the use of buoys or even flagpoles.

Another method would be the Pelagic Hook-and-line, to catch coastal fish such as tuna, swordfish again, marlins, and others. They use a variety of artisanal hook-and-line methods. But essentially it is a pole and line with live bait attached and scattered into the water. Trolling using lures and lines, or hand lines with lures, or lines and bait bags can be used in targeting large fish. 

As spearfish are of a numbered species and are often caught accidentally as “by-catch”, methods of catching almost any other pelagic large fishes would, and with a bit of luck, work to catch you one of those Shortbill Spearfish.


Habitat and Distribution

Shortbill Spearfish are pelagic fish, they often occupy open waters and do not often stray far from the surface. They are open ocean, deep water fish frequently observed in temperate and tropical climate oceans, along the Indian and Pacific oceans, which is believed to be their location for their principal population and even their spawning grounds. Though some stray individuals can be found in the Atlantic ocean. They are considered to be a highly migratory type of species.