Tailor, Pomatomus saltatrix (Linnaeus 1766)

Other Names: Bluefish, Chopper, Choppers, Elf, Marine Piranha, Skipjack, Tailer

Tailor, Pomatomus saltatrix, at Fairy Bower, Manly, New South Wales, February 2010. Source: Richard Ling / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A fast swimming voracious and aggressive predator with a silvery greenish-blue to steely-grey back fading to silvery-white below, a small dark blotch at the pectoral-fin base, and pale green fins tinged with yellow. 

Tailor have robust, streamlined bodies, two separate dorsal fins and a forked tail. The have large jaws that reach beyond the eye with a single row of prominent razor-sharp teeth; the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw.

Tailor are popular with recreational anglers and large schools follow schools of baitfish along the coast.

Remarkably, like other predatory fishes such as large tunas, billfishes and some sharks, Tailor can maintain their body temperatures at least 4°C above that of the surrounding water temperature.

Video of Tailor in the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, depth 4 m.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Pomatomus saltatrix in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/4246

Tailor, Pomatomus saltatrix (Linnaeus 1766)

More Info


Known in Australian waters from about Hervey Bay (Queensland) to the Dampier Archipelago (Western Australia) and around Tasmania. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, but absent from the Eastern and Northwestern Pacific Ocean. 

Tailor are pelagic and are usually found in the open ocean, forming schools near the surface. They move inshore to feed in coastal waters, bays, estuaries, especially off beaches at depths to 15 m. Tailor migrate during the breeding season, moving northwards in autumn to spawn, and returning southwards during spring.

Juveniles usually inhabit large bays and estuaries, while adults prefer rocky headlands and the surf zones of beaches.


Dorsal fin VII-VIII + I, 23-28; Anal fin III, 23-27; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 16-17; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 90-100; Gill rakers 3 + 10-13.

Body moderately robust, streamlined, compressed; head large, mouth large, oblique, lower jaw projecting slightly; jaws with large prominent knife-like teeth in a single row. Body covered in small scales.

Two dorsal fins, the first low with weak spines, the second high at the front, long-based; anal fin similar to, but lower than the second dorsal fin; tail forked; pectoral and pelvic fins small.


Length to about 1.3 m and a weight of 14 kg, although mostly to 60 cm.


Greenish blue to steel-grey above, fading to silver below, with a dark marking at pectoral fin base. Fins olive-greyish to almost white, iris yellow to grey.


Aggressive and voracious predatory fishes. Schools of Tailor hunt along inshore coastal waters, estuaries and nearshore reefs. They prey mostly on smaller schooling fishes such as herring and mullet, and have been known to attack people caught up in the feeding frenzy.

As larvae, they feed on microscopic crustaceans and other planktonic organisms. Juveniles hunt in schools, preying on crustaceans and small fishes. Adult tailor form loose groups, feeding mostly on other schooling fishes, although they also eat crustaceans and molluscs. They are often seen leaping from the water when chasing prey.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Adults migrate northwards to spawn offshore during late winter and spring. Tailor mature at about 2 years, and females spawn millions of eggs offshore. The larvae develop over the outer continental shelf, before returning to coastal waters. Tailor reportedly live to 10 years of age.


A very popular and important sportsfish in Australia, and fished commercially elsewhere in the world. Large tailor often leap from the water when chasing prey or when hooked. 

The flesh has an excellent flavour, especially when smoked.


Tailor travel offshore in large schools of similarly-sized individuals, following schools of baitfish and other smaller species. Juveniles tend to form schools in bays, estuaries and shallow coastal waters.


The name 'Tailor' is from the ability of this species to cut fishing nets with their scissor-like teeth.

Species Citation

Gasterosteus saltatrix Linnaeus 1766 Systema naturae, Holmiae 12th ed. 1(1): 491. Type locality: Carolina [South Carolina] and Virginia, U.S.A.


Dianne J. Bray

Tailor, Pomatomus saltatrix (Linnaeus 1766)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The marine fishes of north-western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers.Western Australian Museum, Perth. I-vi + 1-201, 1-70.

Bade, T.M. 1977. The biology of tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix Linn.) from the east coast of Australia. MSc thesis, University of Queensland. 116 pp. 

Bemis, W. E., A. Giuliano & B. McGuire. 2005. Structure, attachment, replacement and growth of teeth in bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix (Linnaeus, 1766), a teleost with deeply socketed teeth. Zoology 108: 317-327.

Bizsel, C., Yokes, B., Pollard, D., Kara, M.H., Bariche, M. & Quignard, J.P. 2011. Pomatomus saltatrix. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T190279A8784495. Downloaded on 15 February 2017.

Carlish, B. 2010. The Tailor’s Tale. Western Fisheries September, 2010. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.

Collette, B.B. 1999. Family Pomatomidae (p. 2650). In: Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland Edn 2, 624 pp.

Goodbred, C.O. & J.E. Graves. 1996. Genetic relationships among geographically isolated populations of bluefish Pomatomus saltatrixMar. Freshwater Res. 47: 347-355.

Hutchins, B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. 180 pp.

Juanes, F., J.A. Hare & A.G. Miskiewicz. 1996. Comparing early life history strategies of Pomatomus saltatrix: a global approach. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 47: 365-379.

Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee & C. Grieve. 1993. Australian fisheries resources. Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra, Australia. 422 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Lenanton, R.C., Ayvazian, S.G., Pearce, A.F., Steckis, R.A., Young, G.C. 1996. Tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix) off Western Australia: where does it spawn and how is the larvae distributed. Marine and Freshwater Research 47: 337-346.

May, J.L. & J.G.H. Maxwell. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 pp.

Miskiewicz, A.G., B.D. Bruce & P. Dixon. 1996. Distribution of tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix) larvae along the coast of New South Wales, Australia. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 47: 331-336.

Nurthen, R.K., R.C. Cameron & D.A. Briscoe. 1992. Population genetics of tailor, Pomatomus saltatrix (Linnaeus) (Pisces: Pomatomidae), in Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 43(6): 1481-1486.

Silvano, R.A.M. & A. Begossi. 2005. Local knowledge on a cosmopolitan fish ethnoecology of Pomatomus saltatrix (Pomatomidae) in Brazil and Australia. Fish. Res. 71: 43-59.

Smith, K., Lewis, P., Brown, J., Dowling, C., Howard, A., Lenanton, R. & Molony, B. 2013. Status of nearshore finfish stocks in south-western Western Australia. Part 2: Tailor. Final NRM Report - Project No. 09003. Fisheries Research Report No. 247. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2008. Family Pomatomidae. pp. 570 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Stehlik, L.L. 2008. Effects of seasonal change on activity rhythms and swimming behavior of age-0 bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) and a description of gliding behaviour. Fishery Bulletin 107(1): 1-12.

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Young, G.C, Wise, B.S., Ayvazian, S.G., 1999. A tagging study on tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix) in Western Australian waters: their movement, exploitation, growth and mortality. Marine and Freshwater Research 50: 633-642.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37334002

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Aggressive predator

Depth:0-15 metres

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Max Size:1.3 m; 14 kg

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map