A Short History of Marine Fishing Capture Flags

A Short History of Marine Fishing Capture Flags

Flags are everywhere.

Flags have been used in many different ways throughout history. Originally mainly used in warfare, flags now have a multitude of different uses. They are now also extensively used for signaling, decoration, and for display. Flags are used to represent countries, cheer on sports teams, and identify institutions. Flags have also been used in sporting events for hundreds of generations.

Every flag is made for a purpose. It has history. It tells a story. And often it tells a hundred different stories for thousands of different people.

Our Sundot Marine Fish Flags are no different.

sundot marine flags flying honokohau harbor

  Sundot Marine Blue Marlin Flags on display, Honokohau Harbor

Flags used in Fishing, often called "Capture Flags" are the glad rags of fishing. Raise a capture flag on your boat and it is a public announcement of your catch. Using our Sundot Marine Flags denotes the species of fish you catch (or catch and release) and signals success to other boats, anglers and even spectators in the harbor. 

Imagine the days before social media. Even before cell phones. Now think back a little further. Before computers. Back when boats communicated with each other over super-basic VHF Radio. That's round about the time we started making our flags (in the early 1960s). Our Flags were used in Honokohau Harbor and around the pelagic fishing areas of Kailua-Kona as a form of communication. Fishermen didn't have instagram back then to show off their catch so they had to be creative. 

Aukaka japanese tokyo trollers at HIBT kailua kona fishing tournament


1969 - on board the Aukaka, the Tokyo Trollers, HIBT's first Japanese team land their first Blue Marlin. 

old sundot marine mahi mahi flag collectors bob duerr

Our old flags are now collectors items, Captain Bob Duerr's personal collection

Our Fish Flags became a way to bring color to the boat, added excitement for the fishermen, and a feeling of pride for charter boat captains.

Fish Flags let people know that the fish were biting! 

The fish are really biting here! So many sundot marine flags

Looks like the fish were really biting today!

Big Game Fishermen around the world began to hear about the excellent fishing conditions in Hawaii. They started coming to Kailua-Kona to fish in the calm waters, not far off shore. Overseas anglers often couldn't take their catch home with them so they would take a Fish Flag as a memory instead.

sundot marine capture flags flying worldwide

Our Sundot Marine Flags fly around the world. 

'Fish flags are banners that provide pomp and pageantry to the ancient game of Sport Fishing. A fluttering capture flag is the Angler's official seal of approval and badge of accomplishment and courage' (South Pacific Fishing).

Mahi fish flag in honokohau harbor Kailua Kona

Sundot ono wahoo flag in honokohau harbor

Our flags are recognizable, even from a distance, Kailua-Kona

'Because the usefulness of a flag, for purposes of identification, depends on its blowing out freely in the wind, the material that is preferred is usually light and bears a device or pattern identical on both sides. Wording therefore tends to be excluded, and the simpler patterns are favored' (Britannica).

Marine Flags need to satisfy these standards plus some. They need to withstand harsh gale force winds, rain and salt water. They need to repel extensive exposure to the sun, falling in bloody decks and getting lost in crusty boat crevices for months at a time.

Simple and classic fish flag designs are recognized world wide

Why not show off your accomplishments?

Being designed and sewn on the Big Island of Hawaii - where we are exposed to all these types of natural elements - our flags have been tried and tested.  We are proud to stand behind our mission to provide the "Finest Quality Available in Fishing Flags". We source the best material and monitor our manufacturing (which if you didn't already know is 100% done in the USA)

Our Sundot Marine Flags combine the competitive aspects of Sport Fishing with the beauty of marine art. Our flags are all designed in two, basic eye-catching colors - a solid background color and a contrasting, simplistic image to identify the species of fish.

We currently have 16 flags that identify many of the main pelagic species. Sundot Marine started out by basing our flags off the most common Hawaiian gamefish including: Blue Marlin, Ahi (Yellowfin Tuna), Ono (Wahoo), Mahi-Mahi (Dorado/Dolphin Fish) and Spearfish. Then we added a few of the other popular pelagic fish to our collection. These include: Sailfish, Swordfish, Albacore, Yellowtail, Shark, Bluefin Tuna, Aku (Skipjack), Ulua (Trevally) and Striped Bass. 

We also have a few specialty flags including a Pirate, Cocktail, Hooked Up and Diver Down, alongside our popular Tag and Release and Release Burgees (triangular-shaped flags).

sundot marine marlin and tag and release flag

The Red Tag and Release Burgee flown below a Marlin Flag indicates that the fish was caught and then released alive.

Our flags come in two standard and IGFA approved sizes: 12x18 (trophy) and 16x24 (tournament).

You can shop our flags, knowing you are supporting a family owned + operated business in Hawaii, that is striving to bring you a world recognized and respected product. 



old sundot marine flag standing the test of time



Mahalo to some of our sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica

South Pacific Fishing


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All my flags are Sundot! It is a proud moment when you roll back into dock and go to the scale!!! I had family in Kona and went out.everytime I was there. I got a few od the flags (fish) that day but we only flew the Marlin! It was so cool!! I live in AZ and have a flag pole, I always put out my sundot flags when I got home so everyone knew what I got!!!


For over 25 years, after retiring, I owned a 38’ boat in Manzanillo, Mexico and eventually got known as “The King of Marlin”. a good friend of mine gave me three capture flags that are hand sown. One a marlin, one a mahimahi and the other a shark. They are stamped “Hawaii House” and "Hand crafted in Hawaii’ . The shark flag also says “Flag Lady Brand”. All are 15"-16" X 23-24" and are further hand written “Evans Original”, perhaps by Gordon Rynders, a New York Times photographer who gave me the flags?? What kind of value would these hand sewn antiques be worth and can you give me an estimate of how old they may be? I love them.

Jerry Meyer

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