M?ori name:


Scientific name:

Sepioteuthis australis (broad squid); Notodarus spp. (arrow squid)

All-tackle NZ record:


Eating quality:




Squid are curious cephalopods, an increasingly popular target species in New Zealand waters. The word cephalopod is derived from the Greek language and means ‘head foot’, which is a fitting (if somewhat concise) description for squid with eyes just above their many tentacles.

In NZ, there are two squid species: broad squid and arrow squid. Broads tend to be encountered around structure or weeds in relatively shallow waters, while arrows are encountered in deeper, open-ocean settings. Broad squid grow to a mantle length of around 40cm and feature long, oval-shaped fins. Arrow squid, on the other hand, grow much bigger (over 1m) and sport smaller diamond-shaped fins at the top end of their mantles. Both species are capable of rapid colour changes, particularly broads which alter their surface splotches from translucent to dark red-pink to mimic their surrounding environment. 

Arrow squid are found around NZ, while broad squid are found in the upper South Island and North Island. They are voracious predators, predating on fish, invertebrates and even regularly cannibalising smaller members of their own kind!

Where to catch

Broad squid are usually targeted in shallow waters from 1-10m with weed and/or structure present. They use this cover to both hide from predators and ambush prey. During the day, sheltered rocky shorelines and weed beds see the majority of squid angling (or egiing) efforts. We are blessed with miles and miles of good territory accessible either by foot or boat. These strange critters like to hang out in groups over shallow kelp beds, so don’t be afraid to cast right up into the nooks and crannies.

However, when the sun goes down, fishing under artificial light sources is the favoured approach. This makes city harbours, such as Auckland’s Waitemata, popular squid spots – simply look for the ink splatters around wharves, bridges, breakwalls, and boat ramps to find promising areas!

Also, look to fish in reasonably clean and clear waters because squid primarily hunt by sight and try to avoid freshwater.  

As noted previously, arrow squid are usually encountered in open-ocean areas such as the Three Kings Islands or when out fishing for pelagic or deepwater fish species.

When to catch

Squid are so voracious because they have a very short lifespan requiring a rapid growth rate. Squid perish after spawning, with baby squid emerging in early summer. Accordingly, the best time for squid fishing tends to be through winter and spring when specimens have grown large enough to make a decent meal! Nevertheless, spawning variations mean large squid can be encountered at any time of the year – the chances are just slimmer than during the prime season!

Although arrow squid are primarily nocturnal in nature, rising to the surface to feed at night, broad squid can successfully be targeted day and night. Activity levels for broads often peak around the change of light period.

How to catch

The most common egiing technique involves casting slow-sinking, prawn-imitation jigs, letting them sink, and then slowly retrieving them with whips and pauses. All manner of retrievals can work – masters employ a seemingly violent whipping motion, while others go about it like softbaiting. Whatever the technique, the jigs should be made upwards to ensure the lure is visible and has less chance of snagging. Fishing squid jigs under a bobbing float or on a ledger rig are also techniques keen squid hunters use.

Standard softbaiting gear can be used effectively, but specialised egi sets spooled with light braid (3-5kg) and 10-15lb fluorocarbon will allow longer casts, better lure actions and enhanced bite sensitivity. Lure choice is often a matter of trial and error on the day, but the general rule of thumb is to use duller, natural-coloured jigs (brown, dark green, dark purple etc.) during the day and brighter, more luminescent colours in the dark.

The bite is generally not dramatic; rather a case of steady weight coming on followed by a slow pulsing. It’s essential to keep the drag light, maintain steady pressure and ensure no slack line is given while winding in your prize. Once you’ve hooked one, odds are there will be more, so make sure your mate casts into the same spot, or get your own lure back out there as quickly as possible!


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