How to Catch Wahoo

Wahoo are some of the toughest pelagic predators on the face of the planet—they can streak through the water upwards of 60-mph, they have teeth as sharp as razors, and they fight like a wounded rhino. They also rate an A+ on the grill. Add all these factors together, and you come up with a species that deserves your desire. Ready to set your sights on wahoo? Then take note of these five wahoo-catching tips.


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    Put some baits into their target zone. Wahoo like to cruise sub-surface, especially around flotsam and weedlines, and attack fish from below. Using planers or downriggers, set your offerings 20’ to 35’ below the surface. Wahoo sharpies also set monel or stainless lines weighted down with five to six pound sash weights, run directly from the rod tip of an 80 or 120 class bent-butt rod. Once your lines are set look for anything floating on the surface that could hold bait, and troll around or along it.
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    Use the right colors. Wahoo are very color-specific in their preferences. The usual offshore trolling combinations like blues, pinks, and whites, are not usually the best ‘hoo choices. Instead, these fish gravitate towards red/black and purple/black combinations. Rig large ballyhoo behind rubber skirts in these color patterns, and they’ll attack.
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    Kick the throttles up a notch. Wahoo are speedsters, and they like to attack fast baits. Don’t be afraid to troll at eight, nine, or even 10 knots—they won’t have any trouble catching up. Trolling at these fast speeds also allows you to cover a lot of ground. When you catch one wahoo, however, don’t continue on trolling aimlessly along. While it’s true that these fish don’t travel in large schools, they do gravitate towards the same areas. So after catching one work the immediate area thoroughly, before moving on.
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    Rig up your wahoo baits with several feet of single-strand 80 to 120 test wire leader. Mono doesn’t stand a chance with these beasts, and even when using circle hooks (which usually snag the fish in the corner of the jaw) they almost always escape if there’s no wire on the line.
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    Watch all of your rod tips closely. If you see one take a sudden dip and then spring back up, drop the reel into freespool and allow the bait to sink for a few seconds. Then thumb the spool and jig the line once or twice. Wahoo like to chop their prey in half, eat one end, then circle back and eat the other. Often they’ll bite a ballyhoo off just behind the hook. So if you act fast and give it a drop-back, the wahoo will often turn around and come back for more.

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Categories: Fishing