How To Fish For Wahoo

Wahoo is a highly prized game fish known for its speed and high-quality flesh, making it a favorite among sport fishermen and culinary enthusiasts alike. This species, scientifically known as Acanthocybium solandri, belongs to the Scombridae family, which also includes mackerels and tunas. Wahoo can be found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, often in offshore environments. Distinguished by its elongated body, striking blue and silver coloration, and razor-sharp teeth, the Wahoo is not only a sight to behold but also a formidable predator in its habitat. It feeds on a variety of smaller fish, using its incredible speed to catch its prey.

Wahoo can reach speeds up to 60 mph, making them a thrilling catch for any angler. This guide will cover the essential aspects of wahoo fishing, including the appropriate fishing setup, the best baits and lures, effective fishing techniques, the best times to catch them, and where to find them.

Wahoo Fishing Setup

The best setup for Wahoo fishing includes a heavy-duty trolling reel matched with a strong, medium to heavy-action rod. A reel size of 50-wide is often recommended, spooled with 50 to 80-pound test braided line to ensure durability and strength against the Wahoo’s sharp teeth and powerful runs. This setup offers the necessary power to handle the fast and furious strikes Wahoo are known for, while also providing the angler with enough control during the fight.

When it comes to the best rig for Wahoo, the wire-line rig is highly favored. Given Wahoo’s sharp teeth, using a heavy-duty, single-strand wire leader of about 90 to 124-pound test is essential to prevent line cuts and ensure your catch makes it to the boat. The rig often includes a high-speed trolling lure, such as a bullet-shaped head with a skirt, to mimic the fast-moving prey Wahoo hunt. Adding a trolling weight or planer in front of the lure can help achieve the desired depth, as Wahoo can often be found in deeper water, anywhere from 30 to 300 feet below the surface.

Best Bait For Wahoo

Wahoo are opportunistic predators with a diet that primarily consists of fish and squid. They are known to attack with incredible speed and precision, making the choice of bait crucial for successful fishing. The best live bait for Wahoo includes species that are part of their natural diet, such as mackerel, bonito, and flying fish. These baits mimic the Wahoo’s usual prey and are highly effective when trolled slowly behind a boat, allowing their natural swimming action to attract these fast predators.

In terms of artificial lures, high-speed trolling lures are among the best for targeting Wahoo. Bullet-shaped lures with heavy leads and vibrant skirts designed to mimic the fast-moving fish Wahoo prey on are particularly effective. Additionally, deep-diving plugs and large feathered jigs can also attract Wahoo, especially when they are used in areas where these fish are known to feed. The key to using lures is to maintain a speed that makes the lure swim enticingly, typically faster than for other species, given Wahoo’s propensity for high-speed pursuit.

Wahoo Fishing Techniques

High-Speed Trolling

High-speed trolling is one of the most common and effective techniques for catching Wahoo. This method involves towing lures or bait at speeds typically between 14 to 18 knots, significantly faster than traditional trolling speeds. The setup usually includes heavy-duty trolling rods and reels spooled with high-test braided line, coupled with a heavy leader to withstand Wahoo’s sharp teeth. Bullet-shaped lures, deep-diving plugs, or rigged ballyhoo are preferred for their ability to maintain stability and attractiveness at high speeds. High-speed trolling is most effective in clear, open waters where Wahoo hunt for fast-moving prey, often around weed lines, temperature breaks, or near underwater structures.

Live Bait Trolling

Live bait trolling is another highly effective technique for targeting Wahoo. This approach involves trolling live bait, such as mackerel or bonito, at slower speeds, around 5 to 8 knots, to mimic the natural movement of the Wahoo’s prey. The setup requires a medium-heavy to heavy action rod with a reel capable of holding a substantial amount of line due to the Wahoo’s powerful runs. Circle hooks are recommended for live bait to ensure a higher hookup ratio and healthier catch and release. Live bait trolling is especially effective around reefs, ledges, and areas with significant baitfish activity, where Wahoo are likely to be hunting.


Jigging can be a highly rewarding technique for catching Wahoo, particularly when they are located in deeper water around structures such as sea mounts or drop-offs. This technique involves using a heavy jigging rod and reel setup with braided line for sensitivity and depth control. Metal jigs that can quickly sink to the desired depth are used, with rapid, vertical jigging motions to attract the attention of Wahoo through the water column. Jigging is effective because it targets Wahoo looking for an easy meal, simulating the erratic movement of injured fish. This technique is best employed in areas where Wahoo are known to congregate, making it an excellent choice for targeting fish that are not actively feeding on the surface.

Kite Fishing

Kite fishing is a specialized technique that can be highly effective for catching Wahoo, particularly in areas with a lot of surface activity. This method uses a fishing kite to suspend live bait at the surface of the water, creating a scenario that mimics a struggling fish. The setup requires a kite-specific rod and reel, with a live bait hooked through the nose and dangled at the surface. The visual spectacle of the bait struggling on the surface can prove irresistible to Wahoo, triggering aggressive surface strikes. Kite fishing is most effective in calm to moderate wind conditions, allowing for precise control of the kite and bait presentation.

Best Time To Catch Wahoo

Wahoo spawn throughout the year, with peaks varying by geographical location. However, the best time of year to catch Wahoo is often during the late summer to early fall. This period coincides with their increased feeding activity as they prepare for the spawning seasons, making them more aggressive and likely to strike bait. Additionally, water temperatures are ideal during these months, encouraging Wahoo to inhabit areas more accessible to anglers.


In spring, Wahoo can be found moving closer to shore as water temperatures begin to rise. The best time to catch Wahoo during this season is early morning or late afternoon, when they are most active in feeding. Trolling with medium-speed lures or live bait is an effective technique, as it covers a large area and mimics the behavior of their prey moving through the water.


Summer is a prime time for Wahoo fishing, especially from late summer into early fall, as mentioned. During this season, high-speed trolling early in the morning is highly effective. Wahoo are known to feed aggressively before the heat of the day sets in, making dawn to mid-morning the optimal time to target them. Using high-speed lures that can attract their attention in the open water is recommended.


Fall continues to be an excellent season for Wahoo fishing, with early morning and late afternoon being the best times to catch them. As water temperatures begin to cool, Wahoo will often feed closer to the surface, making them accessible to high-speed trolling and live bait trolling techniques. This is also the time when Wahoo are fattening up for the winter, increasing the chances of catching larger fish.


During winter, Wahoo are still catchable, especially in warmer waters closer to the equator. The best time of day remains the early morning, when they are actively feeding. Slow trolling with deep-diving lures or jigs can be particularly effective, as Wahoo may be found at deeper depths seeking warmer water temperatures.

Where To Catch Wahoo

The best locations for targeting Wahoo include Bahamas, the waters off Florida, particularly the Keys and the Gulf Stream, as well as the coasts of Southern California and the offshore waters around Hawaii. These areas are favored due to their warm, tropical, and subtropical conditions, which are ideal habitats for Wahoo.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a hotspot for Wahoo fishing, especially during the winter months when Wahoo are more abundant. High-speed trolling in the deep waters along the Gulf Stream’s edges is the most effective technique here. Anglers often use heavy-duty trolling gear rigged with large, colorful lures or ballyhoo to attract Wahoo. Early morning is typically the best time to target them as they are actively feeding.

The 15-to-30 mile range is ideal to catch wahoo offshore in the Gulf Stream with small boats. This distance places anglers over deeper water structures and temperature breaks, where Wahoo are more likely to be found hunting. Fishing in this range allows for the use of various techniques, including high-speed trolling and live bait fishing, to effectively target Wahoo.


The Bahamas are renowned for their exceptional Wahoo fishing, particularly during the winter months when Wahoo are more prevalent in these waters. High-speed trolling with artificial lures such as bullet-shaped heads or deep-diving plugs is highly effective in the Bahamas. Anglers often focus on the edges of the Gulf Stream or around underwater features like banks and ledges where Wahoo are known to hunt.

Southern California

In Southern California, the waters off San Diego and the Channel Islands offer opportunities for Wahoo, particularly during the warmer months when these fish move closer to shore. Trolling with live bait, such as mackerel, or using high-speed artificial lures are effective methods. Anglers in this region often focus on areas where warm water currents bring in baitfish, attracting Wahoo.


Hawaii is another prime location for Wahoo, locally known as Ono. The waters around the islands are fertile fishing grounds year-round, but especially from spring through fall. Trolling with lures designed for high-speed retrieval or using live baits like skipjack tuna near underwater ledges and drop-offs can be particularly productive. The clear, deep waters around the Hawaiian Islands provide an ideal setting for these techniques.

Fish Species Related to Wahoo

Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) is a member of the Scombridae family, which includes a variety of fast-swimming, pelagic fish species known for their importance both as sport fish and for commercial fisheries. Related species within the Scombridae family include:


Tunas, including species like the Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus), Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares), and Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), are some of the most well-known members of the Scombridae family. Fishing for tunas is incredibly popular due to their impressive size, powerful fighting capabilities, and the high value of their meat, which is prized in culinary traditions around the world, especially in sushi and sashimi. Anglers and commercial fishermen alike target bluefin tuna for both sport and profit, making them one of the most sought-after species in the ocean.


Mackerels, such as the King Mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) and Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), are valued for their speed and agility in the water, making them exciting targets for sport fishing. Their popularity among anglers stems from their widespread availability in coastal waters, the challenge of catching them due to their speed, and their delicious taste. Mackerel fishing is also significant for commercial fisheries, with their meat being a common sight in markets and on menus.


The Bonito group includes species like the Atlantic Bonito (Sarda sarda) and the Striped Bonito (Sarda orientalis). These fish are smaller than tunas but share similar body shapes and are also prized for their sporting qualities.