In Search of Wahoo on the Fly

by | Oct 30, 2023 | fly fishing for wahoo | 2 comments

flyfishing-BajaWhen you know you’re headed out fly fishing on Magdalena Bay down here in Baja Sur, sunrise doesn’t come soon enough.  Eventually it does though and at 6:30 am Sammy Vigneri, Grant Hartman and I were headed out with local fishing guide Roddy Garcia for the blue water of the Pacific.  Our fly rod target species – wahoo, one of the largest members of the mackerel family.


I’ve caught wahoo but never on the fly.  Not many have including Sammy.  Catching a wahoo on fly is no less than an amazing feat.  Wahoo live far out to sea and spend a great deal of their time deep however they will follow baitfish and squid to the surface.  When you find surface feeding tuna, dorado, marlin and others, there could be wahoo too.  But often they’re in smaller numbers and you need to be very lucky to get one.



Furthermore, wahoo are famous for their lightning speed.  I’ve seen them leap 30 feet at a time going 50 mph or more running down fleeing baitfish.  They’re so speedy that even the fastest two-hand fly strip is usually too slow to interest them.


To top it off, wahoo have razor sharp scissors for teeth.  Landing a wahoo on mono or fluoro leader is next to a miracle.  When you’re after wahoo you always use heavy wire.  And what really stinks, wahoo have brilliant eyesight and often refuse flies attached to wire.


Currier-YetiI’ve dabbled trying for wahoo on fly over the years – always unsuccessfully.  I figured by now I’d have lucked into one but it hasn’t happened.  These next two days here at Mag Bay wahoo will be our target.


Grant-HartmanThe good news for us, we have Grant.  If you’ve followed my Baja exploits over the years I’m often with Grant.  Grant is the founder of Baja Anglers and an expert in blue water fly fishing.  Grant has wrangled a few wahoo on the fly in his day and feels that November in the deep waters around Mag Bay offer a legitimate opportunity to bump into a fly eating wahoo.


Magdalena-BayTodays first plan of attack was to catch sardines for Roddy’s live well.  The idea behind this is that if we’re lucky enough to find wahoo on the surface we can toss over the live sardines to entice the wahoo to stick around long enough for us to make a cast.


Mag-BayAfter we collected sardines Roddy drove us 25 miles out to sea.  We left out the north passage from Mag Bay.  Though today was glassy calm and beautiful, there were some powerful rip-currents at the mouth.  These ocean mouths are always a bit dicey, but Roddy knows these waters like I know the Henry’s Fork.


flyfishingOnce outside the rough zone it was calm.  Even on a calm day the Pacific Ocean delivers huge waves but they were totally manageable and the two hour boat ride was enjoyable.


commercial-fishingIts not like we were just driving out to the open ocean.  Roddy actually took us to a pinnacle out in the open sea that comes up to about 120 feet deep yet is surrounded by a 1000 ft of water.  It’s a blue water species magnet not only for wahoo but also tuna, dorado, marlin and sailfish.  But there was disappointment when we arrived.  There were two enormous commercial fishing boats with nets stretched out a mile long.


Sammy-VigneriThe overfishing of the ocean is real.  I see it almost everywhere I go these days.  We travelled a long way out to an area that may well have been completely harvested the last few days.  Luckily, Roddy said another 20 minutes and there was another spot. Driving further out to sea on a small boat was the last thing we wanted to do but luckily there were no more trawlers.


wahoo-fliesThis location was a 180 foot deep pinnacle.  Another that Roddy has caught wahoo at before.  Sammy and I had our 12-weights with Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Big Water Taper Max Sink lines and heavy black Clouser’s attached to 60lb wire bite tippet.  We made short casts and fed our lines down similar to mending and feeding line downstream for trout.


flyfishingThe whole idea of fishing this way sounds ridiculous – once again the reason few wahoo have been caught on fly (trolling flies does not count).  But Sammy and I worked diligently.  Meanwhile, Grant took occasional casts with a hookless teaser and tossed over a few live sardines trying to get something to show up .  Our first customer was a curious dorado.


fly-fishingGrant’s nickname for dorado is “dodo” and Sammy got his line up in a hurry and grabbed his 10-weight that was rigged without wire and an orange Clouser.  One cast and this fish was on.


dorado-flyfishingDorado fight hard and this fish gave Sammy a run for his money.  I continued working my wahoo rig deep hoping that miracle fish might be on the way to the party.  Sammy kept the dorado rig going.


mahiWhere there’s one dorado there’s often many.  Sure enough there were and after watching Sammy land three I figured I’d get the skunk off.  We ended up catching a half dozen of the spectacularly colored leapers.  We released all but the first one which we had for dinner.


There were no cooperative wahoo around the first spot so we began leaping from pinnacle to pinnacle.  I guess there are lots of pinnacles out here.  At least Sammy and I had the sense to pack some cold brews for when we moved!


fly-fishingBy 1 pm we had about a dozen dorado yet not even a sighting of a wahoo.  Roddy suggested heading back closer to the mainland to find some tuna.  We traveled an hour then found a dead turtle floating.  It was gross but anything floating in the blue water often attracts fish.


yellowfin-tunaSure enough fish were there.  We each nailed a couple more dorado then saw several tuna leap coming our way.  Sammy struck first and landed his first ever yellowfin tuna on the fly.  About the time we let Sammy’s tuna go I connected.


CurrierPound for pound tuna fight as hard as any fish on earth.  I had my 12-weight Winston bent to the hilt and my Bauer Reel drag cranked tight.  It doesn’t matter, even a small tuna will steal backing from you like no other fish.


Jeff-CurrierI’m lucky to have experience on the blue water and have taken my share of tuna over the years.  One thing with any fish, if you fight back hard they will give up.  For tuna I use straight 30lb fluoro leader.  Its stronger than it sounds and after about five minutes I landed this gorgeous fish.  Unfortunately he was hooked deep and I couldn’t release him.  The good news was that we took him in and added him to tonight’s feast!


flyfishing-bajaIt was a great day of fly fishing the open ocean.  I’m not sure how many dorado we caught but nearly a dozen.  The only down thing was all were small and I don’t think we saw a single big dorado.  The dead turtle went on to produce four yellowfin tuna.  We just finished our feast and all I can say is there’s nothing like fresh yellowfin tuna sashimi and fried dorado.  Now its time for a good night sleep so we can hunt those wily wahoo again tomorrow.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Howie

    Those fish are so colorful. Good luck on the Wahoo!

  2. Jeff

    Dorado are a true freak of nature. Amazing. Thanks on Mr. Wahoo! Wahoo!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!