Wahoo (Acanthocybium Solandri)

The Wahoo is a dark blue scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas.

Their body is elongated and covered with small, scarcely visible scales; the back is an iridescent blue-green, while the sides are silvery, with a pattern of vertical blue bars. Their mouths are large, with both the upper and lower jaws having a row of extremely sharp serrated teeth.

Reaching speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour, the Wahoo is the second fastest fish in the sea that can be targeted by anglers. Specimens have been recorded at up to 8 foot in length and weighing up to 180 lbs. Their growth can be rapid, with fish having been known to grow from 10 to 30 kilograms in one year.

Wahoo tend to be solitary or occur in loose-knit groups of two or three fish, rather than in schools. Their diet consists essentially of other fish and squid.

Techniques

When targeting the super-sized bluewater game fish of the Indian Ocean you are going to need a rod with plenty of lifting power, but at the same time you dont want to compromise on casting ability. Match the rod with a high large arbor, quality machined reel with the capacity to handle a heavy fly line and a large amount of backing.

There are three ways which can be used by themselves or combined to target Wahoo. Anglers can blind cast, use chum or tease the fish to the surface. Tactics vary slightly depending on what works best at the particular venue.

Blind Casting

The skipper will target structure like a pinnacle, wreck or drop-off that is not too deep as to allow you to target the fish drawn to it. He will then position the boat as to allow you to cast up current and get your fly to sink to the structure. Even though you will be blind casting, with the aid of modern day eco sounders you will have a good idea weather there are fish present or not. Use a long leader and a heavy fly that will sink quicker than your fly line, as to allow your target species to see the fly before the fly line. Always use a full fly line whether it is a full-sink or sink-tip. This is because the fish will often take at full length and you do not want set the hook with the backing or braided running line in your hands.

Often the combination of the above mentioned tactics and the use of live bait or chunking works a treat as it draws fish from further away. Chunking is the use of finely cut up fish pieces thrown in the water to attract fish closer towards the boat. Once you have found your target area its often best to set anchor or a parachute as to allow you to concentrate on one spot.

Blind casting with the aid of live bait 

With the use of a sounder the skipper will target a pinnacle, wreck or drop-off which is holding fish. Once he is convinced a suitable area has been found, communication will be made with a crew member to start throwing a few preffered live baits over board, at the same time he will imitate predators attacking a bait ball by doing a series of tight circles with the boat. After a couple of rotations the engines will be turned off and the throwing of live bait will continue. It will take a few minutes, but this will often bring the fish to the surface allowing you to get a few casts in. The secret is to use just enough live bait to keep them coming to the surface as too much will take the emphasis away from your fly. When selecting your fly pattern always try to match the size and colour of your live bait. This is a process that needs lots of live bait, an experienced skipper and crew.

Teasing

When teasing for Wahoo the FlyCastaway guides have found that two methods work well. Trolling drop-offs and structure with bullet-head or soft-head skirts in red and black, green and chartreuse or blue and white works well. As with most teasing, having a belly shine or halfbeak attached to the plastic lure adds to the attraction, the fishy taste often brings a more aggressive fish to the boat, giving you extra time to make your cast. (If you have live bait its the best way to hold the fish at the boat). Also remember that the engines should be in neutral before the cast is made, other wise its not considered true fly fishing. The optimum speed to troll teasers solely for Wahoo is between 7 and 9 knots, depending on sea conditions. Another extremely successful method is by casting hookless plugs over the similar areas. As the fish shows interest, the plug is quickly reeled in and pulled out the water as the angler places their fly in the path of the fish. Bear in mind the secret to switch-ups with Wahoo is timing, it has to be very quick as they often loose their attraction to the teaser. As the teaser is removed it should be immediately replaced by your fly.

Before leaving on your trip you will be briefed in detail by the FlyCastaway guides as to exactly what fly patterns you are going to need and how you should prepare your tackle. For all our destinations we have compiled a comprehensive tackle list.

Tackle

  • Fly Rod: Quick action 12 – 15 weight fly rods.
  • Reel & Backing: Saltwater series reel that can hold 500 meters or more of 50 – 60lbs braid. A Bimini Twist to Double Surgions should be tied into the braid, following which the fly line and backing should be joined using the loop to loop method.
  • Fly Lines: 500 to 750 grains sink-tip lines with 50lbs braided loops nail knotted on both ends.
  • Leaders: 60 – 80lbs single strand wire. You may use class tippet of your choice as the swivel will prevent the wire from cutting through the mono.
  • Knots: 60-80lbs single strand wire: Fly to leader – Haywire Twist; Wire to small swivel Haywire Twist; Small Swivel to Leader Figer of Eight; Leader to Braided loop Perfection Loop. NB mono has a stretch factor and a tendency to slip before seating, when tying your knots make sure you leave a tag and seat them properly with the use of pliers. In saying this, be extremely careful not to stress the knot. (Do not use nylon coated steel as Wahoo tend to bite through it)
  • Flies: Sea Habits, Poodles and Mega Clousers in hot pink and white, chartreuse and green or black and white, heavily tied on a Gamakatsu SL12S or SC152H in 6/0 – 8/0 (Link to fly patterns)
  • Sunglasses: Dark amber or blue mirror grey lenses.

Destinations: 

CosmoledoProvidence, Astove and Farquhar Atolls – Seychelles
St Brandons Mauritius
Manda Bay and Kingfisher – Kenya
Principe – Sao Tome