An FAD is a floating or anchored fishing device used to attract schools of pelagic fish species. When fishing with fish aggregating devices (FADs), fishermen strategically place these devices in the open water to attract bait fish as well as the predatory fish species who feed on them. While using this device, fishermen can catch predatory fish species such as mahi-mahi or tuna. While a fishing aggregating device is generally constructed from manmade materials, similar devices may be purchased.

Furthermore, how to make a fish aggregating device varies depending on several factors, such as the specific device type. For instance, they generally include anchored or unanchored tools constructed out of materials such as coconut fronds or bamboo. To learn more about the use of fishing aggregating devices and to discover the pros and cons of using them, review the information below.

What are the characteristics and features of fish aggregating devices?

The process of how to make a fish aggregating device varies depending on the specific type of FAD you wish to use. For instance, FADs are available as unanchored free-floating tools or static devices that are anchored to the ocean floor. An anchored device may feature any of the following designs:

  • Artisanal
  • Spar buoy
  • Indian Ocean

While a fishing aggregating device is manmade, the device is constructed out various materials such as ropes and lines to resemble natural FADs in the ocean such as seaweed, coconuts or logs. Furthermore, an anchored device may also be made from local materials such as coconut fronds or bamboo. In some cases, fishing aggregating devices may feature attached fish finders as well, as this can help fishermen to electronically connect to the device and determine the location of any fish they may have caught.

What kind of fishing can fish aggregating devices be used for?

An FAD is generally used for industrial purse seining, handlining and pole and line fishing in various ocean environments throughout the world.

Where can I use a fishing aggregating device?

Anglers generally use fishing aggregating devices in ocean waters of at least 1,300 feet deep (400 meters) or in shallow nearshore waters for artisanal fishing purposes. While the ideal FAD site is safe to reach by small boat, the location of the fish aggregating device must also remain at a safe distance from the reef or coast to avoid disrupting natural fish aggregations.

What types of fish can I catch with fish aggregating devices?

A fishing aggregating device is used primarily for catching pelagic fish species such as billfish, tuna or mahi-mahi. However, an FAD is also responsible for creating higher volumes of bycatch, targeting species such as sharks, sea turtles and sunfish.

How do I use a fishing aggregating device?

Through the use of fishing aggregating devices, anglers can attract and aggregate pelagic fish, simplifying the process of finding and catching these predatory species. After installing a fish aggregating device in the water, the device will act as a shelter and begin to attract baitfish, smaller fish and predatory fish species. After an FAD attracts these fish species, anglers use hooks, seines or longlines to harvest their catch. To reduce the risk of injuring any bycatch, however, circle hooks are the best option for catching fish by hook.

What are the advantages of using fish aggregating devices?

Since fishing with fish aggregating devices makes it easier to attract, locate and catch fish, there are many benefits to using these types of tools, especially anchored devices. For instance, an anchored FAD contributes to:

  • Enhanced food security in developing countries.
  • Economic fishing, as less fuel is used to search for pelagic fish.
  • Greater catch rates.
  • Safer fishing practices for fishers.

What are the cons of using fish aggregating devices?

The cons of fishing with a fish aggregating device pertains to possible navigational hazards, pollution and bycatch. For instance, these devices are often responsible for the unintentional catching of sea turtles, sharks and sunfish, as well as pinnipeds (seals) and cetaceans (whales, porpoises and dolphins). Additionally, during the use of fishing aggregating devices, fishermen are more likely to unintentionally catch juvenile fish before these young fish can reproduce. Furthermore, a fishing aggregating device can get caught in a ship’s propellers, while also contributing to plastic pollution, as FADs are generally made from non-biodegradable materials.

Who should consider using fish aggregating devices?

The use of a fishing aggregating device is best when practiced by experienced fishermen who wish to catch predatory pelagic fish for sport or commercial purposes.

How much does a fishing aggregating device cost?

The cost of an FAD varies depending on whether anglers purchase a pre-constructed device or build their own. If purchasing a fish attracting device online through American Fish Attractor & Habitat, for instance, prices range from $114.95 to $194.95. These FADs are suitable for freshwater and saltwater fishing environments. If anglers make a fish aggregating device on their own, however, FADs are generally much more affordable. For instance, a fishing aggregating device can be made from cost-effective materials such as the following:

  • Scrap material
  • Rock and rubble
  • Bamboo frames and sandbags
  • Large concrete blocks

Where can I find fish aggregating devices?

While a fishing aggregating device may be constructed by hand, fishermen may purchase a similar type of device online if they prefer. For instance, the following fish attracting devices are available for purchase online through the American Fish Tree website: