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 warm water from New Jersey to the Caribbean 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. They primarily eat fish and squid. High speed trolling for wahoo is a popular fishing method used to catch wahoo.
High Speed trolling 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 an 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, trolling skirts or deep diving plugs. Below I listed the top ten lures for wahoo and describe the fishing techniques to use each lure. These methods are productive and fun ways to catch wahoo!
Here Are the Best Wahoo Fishing Lures
1. Wahoo Eliminator
Price: Around $75
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.
A Wahoo Elimator is 13 inches long with a 1.5 pound head, 400 pound cable and two 10/0 hooks.
2. Megabay El Plomerito
Price: Around $60
Magbay El Plomeritos are 12 inches long and weigh 7.5-ounces. They are high speed wahoo trolling lures with a red or purple skirt. 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. There are rigged with 6 feet of 480 pound steel cable.
3. Wahoo Wacker
Price: Around $22
The C&H Wahoo Wackers and other large squid baits are a great way to catch Wahoo. Make sure the baits are setup with cable (see recommended setup below).
If targeting both wahoo and other fish such as tuna cable should at least be used to attach double offset hooks within the squid bait. To get the rigs below the surface heavy weights are used with lures close to the boat and lighter weights are used with lures 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 traveling at high speeds.
I really like the C&H Wahoo Wacker lure (purple and black skirt). It’s 11 1/2 inches long and has a 6-ounce head weight.
Recommend Setup for the 3 High Speed Trolling Lures Above:
24 Ounce High Speed Trolling Weight
Price: Around $30
I recommend using the inline trolling weight below with 900lb cable and 300-pound ball bearing swivels. The inline weight should be rigged with wire because wahoo and barracuda sometime bite the weight. This can happen when you are really in a nice fish and wreck the excitement really quickly.
Wahoo Shock Leader
Price: Around $60
This pack includes four 20-foot 400-pound mono shock leaders. These shock leaders are a good idea when trolling for wahoo with braided line. This line is placed between the inline trolling lead and the lure. This helps the setup have some stretch when the wahoo first bites. If you are running without added weight and are using braided line it is still a good idea to add a shock leader line before the lure.
4. Bost The Bullet Wahoo Lure
Price: Around $330
This pack includes four pre-rigged setups. This comes with two Bost San Sal Lures which are 6 ounces and 13 inches long and two Bost The Bullet Wahoo Lures which are 8 ounces and also 13 inches long. Two of the trolling weights are 24 ounces and two of the trolling weights 32 ounces. These are rigged with 10/0 double hooks on 490 pound steel cable. This pack includes everything you need to make great looking wahoo lure spread. Hopefully your boat and fishing reels can keep up.
These next two lures are deep diving plugs. 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 trolling speed is better when traveling fast to a location is not the goal. 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.
5. Nomad Design DTX Minnow
Price: Around $32
If you are going to be targeting wahoo at under 12 knots than this is a must have lure. This lure can dive up to 40 feet deep. The sinking version is what you want for wahoo. The 6.5 DTX Minnow comes with 7/0 single hooks and weighs 3.25 ounces. The 8 inch version comes with 11/0 single hooks and weighs 6 ounces. These lure can be run between 3-12 knots and can dive down up to 40 feet.
This lure should be rigged with wire. The deep diving lip of this lure is nice because you do not need to run the lure on a planer, downrigger or with heavy weights. My experience with lip plugs is that they work great for a few fish but then become difficult to run properly because they get bent and stop running straight.
6. Rapala X-Rap Magnum Lure
Price: Around $22
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.
7. Yo Zuri Bonita
Price: Around $31
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. A wire can be connected to the lure using a strong snap swivel. This lure can be pulled with or without an inline trolling weight. It can also be place on a planer or downrigger. 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. This lure is a beast and runs well even after catching many fish.
8. Sea Witch on a Planer
The Sea Witch should be rigged with wire or cable and then rigged with a ballyhoo. This lure in purple and black or white and blue works great for Wahoo. It is a bit more work using this lure because it need to be used on a planer or downrigger. Just rolling a heavy skirt may be easier but sometimes this works better and can be done at lower speeds which can save money on fuel.
Planer for High Speed Trolling
A planer is used much like a downrigger on a boat. It is let out using a hand spool and is then tied to the back cleat on the boat. The line is then sent down on a double snap swivel with a rubber band. This makes is so you can troll fast and get the lure below the surface. When retrieving the planer the boat should be slowed down and the line should be kept away from the propellers.
The Yo Zuri Bonita and Sea Witch can both be used on a downrigger or on a planer at speeds up to 12 knots.
9. Williamson Wahoo Catcher
Price: Around $9
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.
10. Shimano Butterfly Flat-Fall Deep Drop Jig
Shimano Butterfly Flat-Fall Jigs, 80 grams up to 250 grams white silver and chart white. The main line should be tied to the side of the jig with the hooks. A 130 gran jig will be down about 100 feet with a 60 second count. If line stops then you have a bite. On the retrieve it is typical to do fast pulls up and then reel down on the slack.
Jig Assist Hooks with Wire
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 the jig head first and the line is tied near the eye which is where the hooks should be as well. A short 6 to 12-inch number 7 wire is all that is needed. Using wire assist hooks is important and needed when jigging for wahoo. Some people say that you catch less fish with them. If you look the normal hooks are attached with thick rope like string. I have had these hooks get cut off many times. Always wished I had wire assist hooks when that happens. If a bigger fish eats your fish on the way up having wire and wire assist hooks will give you a good chance of catching it, unless the jigging reel can not handle it!
Most wahoo that I have seen caught were done so 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 found in depths up to 500 feet around structure such as wrecks, reefs humps or under sargassum weed and debris that is holding mahi mahi.
When fishing these areas 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 then 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!
Captain Cody has worked on charter fishing boats in the Florida Keys, Virgin Islands and Alaska. Cody grew up in Pennsylvania and has also done extensive freshwater fishing including bass fishing tournaments. Cody strives to provide detailed information about the best fishing gear and tactics to help both novice and experienced anglers have a more productive and enjoyable time on the water. Cody also has a background in aerospace engineering and neuroscience but really only takes pride in being good at one thing and that is fishing!