• Published:September 12, 2018
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Wahoo are toothy, fierce fighting and excellent to eat.

But, you may never get to taste that flaky white flesh if you don't know these top wahoo-catching tactics.
As fall approaches and the wahoo bite picks up, many offshore anglers look forward to more shots at these toothy, albeit tasty critters. If you want to get more silver bullets biting, these five tactics will do the trick.

1. Get a bait down low by running a 2- to 4-pound sash weight in-line. You’ll need a seriously stout rod for this to take up the tension of all that weight. Most anglers use a short, broomstick-thick dredge rod and a reel spooled with at least 80-pound test for the task. That line, however, shouldn’t be mono. Between the stretch and the thick diameter, mono is the worst choice for this sort of set-up. Many anglers use braid, and some prefer to use steel or monel wire for their weighted wahoo lines to gain even more depth.

2. Get a bait down lower, using a planer. You’ll probably be trolling too fast for an in-line planer to be effective, but a Z-wing planer run off a stern cleat, commonly known as a “poor man’s down rigger,” is an excellent way to target wahoo. Rig 60 feet of 300-pound test to the Z-wing, with a loop at the other end. Set the planer out at a dead idle, and put the loop around a stern cleat. Then kick it up to trolling speed, let out 25 to 30 feet of line on a bait, and bend a rubber band around the main line. Loop the ends of the rubber band back through the ring of a snap swivel, then clip the other end of the swivel around the planer line. Put the reel into free spool, and water pressure will draw the line and swivel down the planer line until your bait is running down deep.

Wait a sec, couldn’t you just use a down rigger? Trolling baits down deep on a down rigger works, but only if you replace the usual down rigger cable with heavy braid. Otherwise, the cable will hum and vibrate at trolling speeds and the bait won’t go deep enough due to all of the water resistance. Also, remember that trolling will put a ton of stress on your down rigger, and it's not unheard of to snap or break a down rigger mount.

3. Pull a lure down low in the water column by mixing a diving plug into the spread. Lipped lures usually can’t handle fast trolling speeds, but swimming/diving plugs like Marauders, Yo-Zuri Bonitas and MagBays will dig down without spinning or rolling. Make sure to keep swimming plugs far away from other deep lines, because if they end up getting tangled you’re in for a seriously huge mess.

4. Add some dark colors to the mix. For whatever reason, wahoo are partial to very dark color patterns. Black/red, purple/black, orange/black and similar mixes often draw a wahoo's attention before common bright offshore colors like greens, pinks and blues. In fact, a ballyhoo skirted in black/red is one of the most effective offerings around when wahoo are the target, but make sure to rig the bait on a wire leader.

5. Put a spoon into the mix. Spoons may be the ultimate in low tech, but they’re also one of the most under-rated lures on the face of the planet, and that includes when you’re fishing for wahoo. But don’t use a plain silver or gold spoon... spoons with color prism tape in those dark patterns with reds and purples, are often the best pick.

BONUS TACTIC: Try high-speed wahoo trolling. In this case, you’ll need to eliminate the planers or down riggers, plugs and spoons. Stick with weighted braid or wire line and use bullet-head lures with weight in the nose (no plungers or chuggers, which will often come flying out of the water at high speeds). Kick the throttles up to 12 or 14 knots and crank down the drag.

Fast trolling is the way to go when you’re really not sure where the fish are located, since you can cover huge amounts of ground in very little time. That said, at these speeds, hooking into other species becomes rare. There’s a very good chance that using this method you’ll either catch wahoo or nothing at all (except for maybe some big barracuda). If you have a good idea of where the fish have been and there are other species like tuna or mahi around, trolling at a more “regular” pace is often the better move.