How to Catch Wahoo: Wahoo Fishing Tips [2022 Update]

Updated on September 5, 2022 by

Wahoo fishes can grow as big as 50 kilograms and swim extremely fast – which is something that makes catching one very rewarding. 

You can catch these speedy beasts using both high-speed trolling as well as low-speed trolling. There is also the matter of live or dead baits, using jigs, trolling beneath floating debris, kite fishing, and more considerations. 

Today, we will present you with Wahoo fishing tips to ensure you catch as many as possible on your next fishing adventure. Without any further ado, let’s get started and learn how you can have a Wahoo on your dinner spread soon! 

Methods of Catching Wahoo 

We’ve already established that this fish is very fast, which is why catching one seems daunting. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back! Below are a few different techniques to catch Wahoo – 

High Speed Wahoo Trolling 

It only makes sense to match the speed of the fish when catching it, which is why high speed trolling is the most popular among Wahoo fishing techniques. 

You should run your troller at speed ranging from 12-17 knots. Experts believe that 15 is the sweet spot for Wahoo fishing. Do not go below 12 knots, however. The speed may vary depending on the type of lure you have. 

Use heavy-duty diving plugs, such as the Rapala Magnum plug for better chances. Don’t forget to rig rod safety lines. 

During this method, you have to go at a zig-zag motion from around 150 feet to 500 feet depth. This is done to mimic a live bait getting flushed by the tide from the shore, which grabs the attention of a Wahoo. Keep varying the speed of your boat until a Wahoo bites your hook. 

After You Get a Bite 

Once a fish bites the hook, the Wahoo fishing tackle starts. Bump your boat’s speed in and out to get the fish above the water surface. And once you see the head of the hooked fish, crank up the speed to keep your boat moving and the fish from getting back inside the water. 

Make sure to head towards deep water, not shallow. Clear everything else (such as other hook lines) that come in the way of the fish and the boat. You may also turn the boat towards the Wahoo to clear the path. This technique will ensure that the fish is ready to be picked up as soon as possible. 

Work the Wahoo close to your boat and wire in the shock leader (about 25 to 30 feet) at the same time. As soon as the Wahoo reaches the side of your boat, gaff it immediately. It helps to have a team of several people does the work simultaneously. 

Low Speed Wahoo Trolling 

You do not always need to keep your boat at high speeds for Wahoos. Lesser speeds, such as 6 to 10 knots, also work for them. This consistently hooked Wahoo trolling technique is far less popular, and as a result, has less information available. 

But you can actually save fuel and get more catches with low speed trolling. However, make sure to maintain a stable trolling speed if you opt for this technique. 

The type of hook, rig, and reel you have matters a lot for this technique. You will face more resistance from the fish through this technique, so a great drag system is a must. 

Place a few lure and bait combinations near the surface, and then set two deep hooked lines for your target. Use diving lures deep under the water. Slow trolling diving lures is a great idea. 

For slow speeding, use natural baits that are rigged to swim. You can go for mullet, trolling ballyhoo, Wahoo belly strips, and mackerel for this. The swimming style catches the attraction of a Wahoo fast. 

Wahoo is notorious for silently cutting off lures and escaping. So, check your lures every 10 to 15 minutes to ensure that the bait is still there. If live Wahoo baits are not available, slow trolling dead bait and artificial lures would be great, too. 

In case of a bite, maintain the speed your boat was at and follow the techniques described above to successfully catch Wahoo. 

Jig Casting 

Jig casting, also known as Wahoo bombs, is a technique you could use in Pacific waters on the west coast. The bombs are essentially heavy iron jigs paired with a colorful skirt. 

You can jig and pull baits atop wrecks. Usually, floating debris will attract fish of different species for food. These fishes are a Wahoo’s prey, so you will find Wahoo fishes luring 50 to 60 feet underneath the debris. Many popular fishermen catch Wahoo beneath debris offshore, so trust me when I say it works. 

Make sure the jig is thin, short, and is made of stainless steel. You need a small one because Wahoo fishes sometimes bite down tight without actually getting hooked. Low profile and short jigs with razor-sharp Siwash hooks will increase the chances of Wahoo actually getting hooked. 

The jig should be accompanied by a strong rod (about 8 feet long), a high speed reel, and diving lures. Once a fish takes the lure, reel the fishing gear in until the fishing line has tension. This must be done fast, or else you will lose your gear. 

Wahoo Fishing Tips 
How to Catch Shark: 5 Shark Fishing...
How to Catch Shark: 5 Shark Fishing Tips [2022 Update]

Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best catches – 

  1. Use Live and Natural Baits for Wahoo Fishing 

Wahoo fishes love groups of live and natural baits. This fish will eat typical keys sailfish, frigate mackerels, threadfin Herrin, Robins, pilchards, etc. If it is not live, cut the bait into 1-inch chunks because Wahoo fishes love chunks. 

It has also been found that larger Wahoo fishes are more likely to eat live baits. So, go the extra mile of trolling live bait if you want a larger catch.  

In the case of chunks of bait, the 1-inch cut mark is recommended by experts because this looks natural to Wahoo, compared to random chunks of meat. 

Another tip is to throw a few baits (live or not) out into the water first if you locate a Wahoo nearby. Once the fish eats those baits, then throw in a hooked bait. It makes the fish more likely to fall for the trap and bite into the hook. 

  1. Keep Track of the Lunar Cycle and Time 

As the moon controls the tides of the ocean and fishes change their location in relation to the tide, you should track the lunar cycle. The 3-4 days before and after a full moon is the best period for catching a Wahoo. 

In case of time, try going fishing early in the morning or in the afternoon. This is because cooler water surface temperature increases the chances of finding Wahoo fish. Because of the same reason, October through March is the ideal time of the year for Wahoo hunting. 

  1. Know Your Ideal Location 

If you know where to troll for Wahoo, you definitely have better chances of finding them. Popular locations for catching Wahoo fishes are – 

  • Miami, Florida 
  • Key West, Florida 
  • Palm Beach, Florida 
  • Stuart, Florida 
  • Galveston, Texas 
  • Oahu, Hawaii 
  • Venice, Louisiana 
  • Hatteras, North Carolina 

Areas that have a current and deep blue or indigo water have the highest chances of having a big Wahoo. You can use SST satellite imagery to constantly monitor the surface temperature, including temperature circulation and breaks. 

Keep an eye out for areas where the temperature break is not very drastic. Subtle break areas are likely to contain more Wahoo. The most common depth for Wahoo catches is around 150 to 300 feet of water. 

As it is a cold-blooded fish, it stays near the surface. Its body cannot regulate temperature the way warm-blooded animals do, so you can expect to find Wahoos within 200 feet of water. 

Wahoo also has an affinity for structure and current. So, go to areas with current and any form of structure, such as reef edges, bottom formations, floating debris, wrecks, oil rigs, weed lines, floating grass, etc. 

  1. Add a Line of Wire Leader to the Lure 

Always be prepared for a crazy Wahoo bite! Wahoo tends to bite off the head of the bait fish. This is because they target the eyes of their prey first. So, eaten-off lures are a common problem for Wahoo fishing because they have serious jaw strength. 

Other times, strong lures such as trolling lures cannot be bitten off, but the fish is quick and manages to escape without getting hooked. This can be prevented by having a wire added to the fishing line and the attachment point. 

  1. Get the Ideal Rig and Colorful Wahoo Trolling Lures 

We have just established that Wahoo has a very strong bite. This, coupled with their strength, means the rigging you have has to be very strong to stand up against a Wahoo. 

Good Wahoo rigs should have 3 wires, 3 hooks, and a minimum of 6 haywire twists. To learn how you can make a great rig specifically for Wahoos, follow this article

In terms of lure color, keep a special Wahoo lure bag at your disposal – bright, dark, neon, etc. Wild color combinations attract Wahoo fishes well. But you need the assortment because some days, the regular ones will not work. You need to change it up and see what else works for those days. 

There are many different Wahoo lures on the market. Wahoo fishermen like these:

Name Length (inches) Weight (oz) Type/Style 
Yo-Zuri Bonita Wahoo Lure 6 ¾; 8 ¼ 6 3/8; 10 7/8 Fishing hook 
Bullet Head Ilander Style Trolling Skirt 8 ¼ 2 ½ Skirt lure 
Nomad Design DTX Minnow 6 ½; 8; 9 3 ¾; 5 ½; 7 ½ Fishing hook 
Bost Wahoo Witch Trolling Lure 3-inch skirt Sea witch 
  1. Use Wahoo Lures When Searching for Other Fishes 

If you are fishing for other fish species in conditions ideal for Wahoos (such as cold temperature, 200 to 500 feet depth, current, structure, etc.), then add a few Wahoo lures along with your original setup. 

This can be done when you are catching Mahi Mahi. Wahoos readily attack lures placed in for other fishes, so it’s best to stay prepared. 

Final Words 

If you carefully follow all our Wahoo fishing tips & techniques, you are bound to succeed in catching one soon. Wahoo is a delicious fish, so all the hard work behind catching them is worth it. 

Make sure you have a reliable group of buddies to share this incredibly exciting experience with you. Who knows, maybe your team can win Wahoo tournaments aboard! 

Start with Wahoo high speed trolling because most people are familiar with it. Remember to move fast once you get a bite. Wahoo fishes are fast and sneaky, so you have to move quickly and efficiently. 

That’s all for now. Thanks for dropping by! 

Photo of author

Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.