Wahoo are one of the most exciting fish to catch. During the first run after a bite wahoo peel line off the reel as if it were a giant shark. Wahoo are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world in water as shallow as 50 feet deep. Wahoo as generally scattered about and not in large schools. These fish are often found in the same waters as tuna, mahi and billfish and bite on similar baits. This can be problematic because wahoo have sharp teeth and typically require a steel leader to be caught.
Wahoo primarily eat fish and squid. High speed trolling for wahoo is a popular fishing method used to catch wahoo. This can be utilized when traveling to and from fishing spots. Capable of reaching speeds of 60 mph wahoo can easily hit lures traveling at 18mph. When traveling in typical 2-4 foot waves, 18mph is a average transit speed so being able to fishing for wahoo during these times makes good use of what would otherwise be wasted fishing time. Trolling this fast is not a trivial task however and heavy lures and reels with quality drag are needed.
Wahoo can also be caught vertical jigging or trolling deep diving plugs. Below I listed the top five lures for wahoo and describe the fishing techniques to use each lure. These methods are productive and fun ways to catch wahoo!
High Speed Trolling Skirt Lures
Wahoo Elimator, 13 inches long with a 1.5 pound head, 400lb cable and two 10/0 hooks.
A skirted squid bait with a heavy lead head it the easiest way to get started fishing for wahoo. Attach the rig to a hefty pole and a 30-80 class reel and you are ready to go wahoo fishing. A 50 class reel is a great size! Troll speeds of 14 to 18 mph are typically used with the lure 400 to 600 feet behind the boat. Ideally the lure is really far back and surfacing occasionally but generally under the water. If fishing for wahoo is only done during transit one or two poles is probably all that can be quickly set out. If targeting wahoo for the day as many as six lines can be used.
Magbay El Plomerito 12 ich 7.5 ounce high speed skirted wahoo trolling lures, purple and red colors.
These lures are a good value. They only have a 7.5 ounce head so if trolling at high speeds over 12 mph a inline trolling weight is a good idea.
C&H Wahoo Wacker lure purple and black skirt, 11 1/2 inches, 6 ounce head weight.
In line trolling weight, 16, 24, 32 and 48 ounces with 900lb cable and 300 pound ball bearing swivels.
MagBay fishing shock cord, 4 leaders, 400 lb mono with heavy duty swivels. This shock cord is run between the trolling weight and the lure. If you are running without added weight and are using braided line it is still a good idea to all a shock line before the lure.
Wahoo Wackers and other large squid baits are a great way to catch Wahoo. Make sure the baits are setup with cable. If targeting both wahoo and other fish such as tuna cable should at least be used to attach the hooks within the squid bait. To get the rigs below the surface heavier weights are used closer to the boat and lighter weights are used further back. Up to a 48 ounce weights are used with short lines under around 200 feet and 16 ounce weights are used on far lures set out 400 feet or more. This won’t set the lures really deep but will get them under the water for the wahoo to see while also traveling at high speeds.
A 25 foot 250 pound mono shock leader is also a good idea when trolling with braided line. This leader is placed between the in-line trolling lead and the lure. This helps the setup have some stretch when the wahoo first bites.
Williamson Wahoo Catcher
This Jet lure is 6 inches long and weighs 2.19 ounces. It is rigged with 5 feet of 90 lb coated wire and a size 8/0 hook. This skirted bait is available in a variety of colors.
The wahoo catcher works great on wahoo and mahi even with the wire leader. Works well at speeds ranging from 5 to 10 mph. This is a good lure to send out past other trolling baits when wahoo are around.
Deep Diving Magnum Plugs
Rapala X-Rap Magnum lures, 15, 20, 30 and 40 sizes. These lures run between 15 to 30 feet deep at speeds of 5 to 15 mph. Hot pink, bonito and silver are good color choices.
Yo-Zuri Sashimi 3D Magnum deep diver trolling plug, 7 inch length, 3 1/8 once and can dive to 22 feet deep.
These lures can be trolled fast or slow. The 30s and 40s can be trolled at the higher 15 mph range but this is not required. A 7 to 12 mph is a better trolling range when traveling fast is not important. Wire can be added at slow speeds but just using a big swivel to attach the lure offers some protection for the teeth of a wahoo while still being able to troll at high speeds.
Yo Zuri Bonita
Yo Zuri Bonita’s come it two sizes 6 3/4 inch, 6 3/8 ounce and 8 1/4 inch, 10 7/8 ounce. This lure is rigged with two single hooks on stainless steel ball bearing swivels.
The yo Zuri Bonita was one of the first high speed trolling lures. It can be trolled from 6 to 17 mph. Wire can be connected to the lure using a strong snap swivel. This lure can be pulled with or without a inline trolling weight. Since it can be trolled at high speeds it can also be used when trolling skirt lures at high speeds. The dark colors purple and red work particularly good on wahoo. This lure works good on big tuna as well when a steel leader is not being used.back to menu ↑
Deep Drop Jigs
Shimano Butterfly Flat-Fall Jigs, 80 grams up to 250 grams white silver and chart white.
Wire assist hooks are needed to protect against the teeth of a wahoo when jigging. A wire leader is also a good idea because fish almost always strike head first and the line is tied near the eye. A short 6 to 12 inch leader is all that is needed. A steel leader might not be needed if the line is tied to the rear end of the jig with the hope to getting bites during the drop. The jig would be backwards during the retrieve. Using wire assist hooks is important and needed when jigging for wahoo!
Most wahoo that I have seen caught are done using trolling techniques with lures in the top 50 feet of water. Jigging for Wahoo is a lot more work but is a challenge that many serious wahoo anglers enjoy. Wahoo are often down up to 500 feet around structure such as wrecks, reefs humps or under snodgrass and debris that is holding mahi mahi. When fishing these always be checking the finder for fish in the 100 to 500 feet of water. If a fish is marked it is worth jigging. Dropping straight down and the reeling up quickly during the retrieve is the most efficient way to deep drop. Make sure a fast retrieve spinning reel is being used. Jigging in areas that also hold tuna, kingfish and amberjack is a good idea because their will likely be more action. Jigging is often done in combination with chunking over wrecks and deep reefs when anchored up and flying kites for fish near the surface.
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more wahoo!
If you have any suggestions for top wahoo lures and baits, leave a comment below!