Rainbow runner

(Elgatis bipinnulata)

Commonly referred to as Rainbow runner‘s!

The rainbow runner as its name suggests is a beautifully coloured species that is normally taken as a by catch whilst trolling and casting lures around shallow, coral reef systems and bomboras. They have also received some solid recognition as great large marlin baits!


Rainbow runner can be encountered in W.A. waters from as far south as Carnarvon right up to the magnificent Kimberley region and also Queensland and the Northern Territory.


Rainbow runner can grow to a staggering 12kg in weight and measure well over a meter in length although most fish encountered average around 4 – 6kgs.


Rainbow runner prefer shallow reef systems with water depths ranging from 10 to 30 meters with steep coral drop offs and pinnacles present. They are often taken as a bi catch whilst trolling for mackerel and coral trout etc.


Rainbow runner can be easily recognised by their long, torpedo shaped bodies, bright yellow, forked tail and amazing colouration. Two bright aqua bands run horizontally along the side of the body which is pale green in colouration with yellow fins. The head tapers to a small mouth with no teeth present.

Taste rating

  • Thirty Taste Rating

Rainbow runner are best known for their good looks and fighting abilities rather than their eating qualities!

Sport rating

  • Sixty Sport Rating

Rainbow runner are a very strong, attractive fish that deserve the respect of all anglers!

Tackle requirements

Light graphite rods in the 3 – 6kg range, around 6’ in length matched to spin reels in the 2500 – 4000 class spooled with braided or gel spun lines with a breaking strain of 6 – 10lb are ideal for casting lures from a boat for rainbow runner. Trolling for them is also a popular technique and requires a light overhead or spin combo spooled with 4 – 8kg brightly coloured nylon or braided line. Small lever drag reels and light rods are ideally suited for this exciting style of fishing. Rainbow runner have no teeth but light nylon or fluoro carbon leaders are generally required to prevent bust offs and fish from seeing bright lines. Rainbow runner are also a fantastic target species for salt water fly out fits which should be rated to between 7# – 9# depending on the size of  fish being targeted.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Live hardy heads, small mullet and whiting will all make great live baits for fussy fish including rainbow runner, try fishing them on light nylon leaders and running sinker rigs. It is also important to match your hook size to your bait. Small hard bodied lures 10 -20cms in length are ideal for both casting from shore and trolling from a boat at around 4 – 6 knots for rainbow runner with metal slices, skirted lures, soft plastics, surface lures and fly’s also proving to be incredibly effective.

Handy hints and tips

Polaroid sunglasses will help considerably when trying to see rainbow runner in rougher conditions.

Preferred fishing times and tides

Early mornings and late afternoons into evening are the preferred feeding times of most fish species including rainbow runner. Generally if a rising tide coincides with dawn or dusk the fishing can be red hot!


[What The Fish]