Rainbow Runner (Elagatis bipinnulata)

A member of the Carangidae family of jacks, the rainbow runner does not look like other jacks because it is a much slimmer, more streamlined fish. It is also an excellent food fish, with firm, white flesh, marketed fresh and salted/dried. In Japan, the rainbow runner is cooked with a special sauce or eaten raw and is considered a delicacy.


The rainbow runner is blue-green above and white or silver below, with a yellow or pink cast. On both sides, there is a broad, dark-blue, horizontal stripe from the snout to the base of the tail; a narrow, pale-blue stripe immediately below it that runs through each eye; a pale to brilliant-yellow stripe below that; and then another narrow pale-blue stripe.

The tail is yellow and the other fins are a greenish- or olive yellow. The rainbow runner has a slender body that is more elongated than those of most other jacks. The first dorsal fin has six spines and the second has one spine and 25 to 27 connected soft rays. Behind this is a 2-rayed finlet.

The anal fin has a single detached spine with 16 to 18 soft rays, followed by a 2-rayed finlet. The rainbow runner is similar to the cobia in shape but can be distinguished by its coloring, as well as by the finlets that follow the dorsal and the anal fins.


The rainbow runner is typically 2 to 3 feet long, although it can reach 4 feet and 22 pounds. The all-tackle world record is a 37-pound, 9-ounce Mexican fish.


Rainbow runners feed on invertebrates, small fish, and squid.

Other Names

runner, rainbow yellowtail, skipjack, shoemaker, Hawaiian salmon, prodigal son; Creole: carangue saumon, dauphin vert, sorcier; French: carangue arc-en-ciel, comère saumon; Hawaiian: kamanu; Japanese: taumuburi; Spanish: cola amarilla, corredores, macarela, pez rata, salmon, sardinata.


Found worldwide in marine waters, the rainbow runner occurs in the western Atlantic, from Massachusetts throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico to northeastern Brazil. In the eastern Pacific, it occurs from the mouth of the Gulf of California, Mexico, to Ecuador, including the Galápagos Islands.


Rainbow runners form either small polarized groups or large schools that usually remain at or near the surface, although they can inhabit depths of up to 120 feet. They occur over reefs and in deep, clear lagoons, preferring areas with a current.