How to Catch Wahoo in Florida

Catch more wahoo in the Keys, Wahoo in South Florida, Wahoo in North Carolina and Wahoo in the Gulf of Mexico with this Wahoo Fishing Tip

What is the secret to catching more wahoo over time? When you miss a wahoo bite, it’s important to remember to utilize the dropback technique.

Dropping back is a a technique to help you consistently capitalize on putting more wahoo over time. Dropping back can really make a difference in consistently putting more wahoo in the box. This wahoo fishing tip applies to anyone looking to target wahoo anywhere in the world.

What is the Dropback Technique?

The dropback technique is essential if you’re looking to catch sailfish or blue marlin species using rigged dead ballyhoo with circle hooks. This technique lets the fish take the bait and swim away for a few seconds before setting the hook. Waiting a few seconds increases the likelihood of a secure hook-up, as the fish has had time to swallow the bait. This technique is beneficial when targeting billfish, which have hard, bony mouths that can be difficult to hook immediately.

However, mastering the dropback to billfish is not easy and takes a lot of practice and time on the water. Winning tournament teams, charter boat captains, and mates targeting sailfish and blue marlin have put in many hours to make this technique look easy. Experienced wahoo fishermen have modified versions of this dropback technique for missed wahoo bites, which is why they have been so successful over a long period time. They have learned how to capitalize on missed bites by turning them into catches using the dropback technique.

Trust the Drop Back Process for Wahoo Fishing

Most really good wahoo fishermen have modified versions of this dropback technique for missed wahoo bites, which is why they have been so successful over a long period.

First, I do my best to turn the boat towards the side of the missed bite, then back off the throttle. Conditions will dictate if I can do this or not. Backing off the throttle allows me or my angler to respond to the missed bite.

The angler will rush to the rod that gets the bite, but rather than pick it up and turn the clicker off, he will leave it in the rod holder with the clicker on. By leaving the clickers on, we are preventing a backlash.
They will then put the reel into a free spool with the clicker on while gently pressing on the lip of the reel spool to help avoid backlash.

Florida keys wahoo fishing charters

If the wahoo comes back to eat or gets hooked when the angler grabs the rod, the angler engages the lever drag and starts reeling as quickly as possible, all while the rod remains in the holder. At this point, I am accelerating the boat, aiding in setting the hook. Remember, there will be a ton of slack in the line, so accelerating the boat will help the angler get tight and drive that hook home into the jaw.

After the initial drop back with the clicker on, if the wahoo doesn’t come back, try making the bait look like it has been attacked by letting it fall back naturally with the current. The angler does this by turning off the clicker and putting the reel in the free spool while pressing gently against the side of the reel spool’s lip to help avoid backlash. If there’s still no re-bite, put the reel into gear and reel quickly for 10-20 rotations on the reel handle, then stop and drop again in free-spool with the clicker off. This part of the dropback process is more of a natural presentation combined with increased speed, which fires up the wahoo. Remember, never give up, and doing something is always better.

If the wahoo still has yet to come back for a second or third bite, the angler will drop the bait back one more time. If the wahoo still doesn’t bite, wait for the captain to return the boat to trolling speed before reeling the bait back to the boat. Sometimes speeding up the boat while leaving the lines in the water will get a fish to fire back up. I have seen this happen time and time again.

Even if I miss a fish on the dropback, I’ll keep at it until I get another bite. Once the baits back are out, I’ll approach the spot on the GPS where I hooked up in the same way I got the first bait. And let me tell you, there’s no better feeling than turning a missed bite into multiple wahoo hookups.

The Best Hooks for Wahoo Fishing Using Dead Bait for Dropback Fishing

I like to use a lighter wire hook with a sharp edge when practicing the dropback technique for wahoo. This type of hook doesn’t require a lot of force to penetrate the fish’s mouth, which makes it easier to hook them successfully. If you’re looking for an excellent trolling hook, I highly recommend the BKK Light Trolling hook.

The Best Wahoo Trolling Hooks

It’s perfect for anglers who use dead ballyhoo baits and troll at slower speeds for wahoo. I manually offset the hooks just slightly, using pliers to increase my chances of successfully keeping wahoo hooked. An offset hook will help put more wahoo in the box.

Offset hooks can be especially effective for wahoo fishing due to a few key reasons.

  1. Offset hooks have higher hook-up ratios than inline hooks because the offset design allows the hook point to penetrate more easily and securely when the wahoo eats the bait.
  2. The wahoo are known for their aggressive and fast attacks. The offset design increases the chance of snagging a wahoo even if it doesn’t fully take the bait into its mouth, which can happen frequently given the way wahoo attack their prey.


When hunting wahoo, it’s essential to stay focused and alert. You should also approach the wahoo fishing with confidence and a positive attitude, and remember to learn the art of being patient and persistent. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dropback fishing for missed wahoo bites. It’s all about finding what works best for you and going for it, regardless of what others may say. I’ve been using a particular method for over ten years and strive to improve yearly. The key to successfully catching wahoo is trusting my dropback process, especially when capitalizing on short and missed bites. It may take some trial and error, but with persistence and dedication, you, too, can find a method that works best for you.


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Good Karma Sportfishing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to