Saltwater anglers in the Florida Keys are spoiled. The variety of large fish available to be caught is rivaled in few places throughout the world. The ample options allow Florida anglers to be picky. Each saltwater angler has a favorite species to target on an ideal day, but one of the most popular options is always going to be Mahi-mahi.
Mahi-mahi are known for their impressive size, aggressive fights and wonderful taste. These fish are always going to be worth the effort. Once you’ve found a school, be prepared for action. Mahi will wear you down, but provide countless stories in the process.
Here is a list of eight of the best lures to use when targeting Mahi-mahi.
Mahi Mahi Jig
This Shimano Jig is a must for anyone targeting Mahi-mahi. These fish will often sit near structure. As a result, letting a jig free fall to the bottom is going to be a great tactic when trying to land Mahi-mahi. The fish will likely not hit it on the fall, but as soon as you begin to bounce it off the bottom and raise it in the water column, the action will begin.
These jigs weigh around 3 ounces and are smart to use when fishing in less than 150 feet of water. People often forget to rig deep diving baits when targeting Mahi. The jig is a simple lure that has always proven to catch fish.
You’ll find these in a variety of colors, but smart options include purple-silver, pink-blue and black. Match the lure to the water color, but remember that these fish are always going to attack flash. You can find these lures for around $15 a piece.
Rapala Diving Plug
Diving plugs are another smart lure to use when targeting Mahi-mahi. Don’t forget to cover the deeper water even if you think all of the fish are near the surface. You can miss out on some impressive Mahi if you fail to cover all levels of the water column.
The Rapala x-rap weighs around 3 ounces and is 7 inches long. These are always great to have tied on in case of fish hanging out low. Since Mahi-mahi are often caught one after the other, it can be frustrating to fight them one at a time. These fish are going to dive deep in the water column and you’ll have a lengthy fight to get them to the boat. You may lose out on numbers, but not on quality fights!
They’re a great bait to use if you’re hoping to see what Mahi-mahi can do. These fish can swim up to 55 miles per hour so prepared for some unforgettable runs. They’ll run you around $20 apiece.
If you’re fishing around structure or any sort of weed line, the bucktail jig is a great option. Use a 1 or 2oz bucktail and you’ll be pleased with the results. These are going to be most successful in a bit shallower water, but also useful when you know you need to fish near the bottom.
At times, you can sight fish for Mahi and a free falling bucktail jig is going to do the trick. United States Navy Seals still carry bucktail jigs and hand line them in case they run out of food on the ocean. There are few baits that are considered to be that honorable!
You can attach a trailing grub tail or some sort of other live bait imitation and have plenty of success catching Mahi. Be sure it’s tied on well because the Mahi will fight you with all of its power. You can find the bucktails for around $9 a piece.
Yo Zuri Mag Darter
The Yozuri Mag Darter is a classic bait in the world of saltwater fishing. These baits have landed almost every type of fish imaginable! Use these in a gold or red pattern. They’re a great bait to use if the Mahi schools aren’t biting. Cast it near them and they’ll start to move.
When you use the Yozuri Mag Darter, be sure you’re ready to reel. Once it hits the water, reel as fast as you can. Remember that Mahi-mahi can swim up to 55 mph so they’re going to expect something to be moving quickly.
The Mag Darter will cost you around $13 a piece. These lures are great for a variety of saltwater fish. Always have one in your box ready to go.
Shimano Pop Orca
The Shimano Pop Orca is great to use when the Mahi-mahi are surface feeding. If the Mahi see bait moving away from them, it won’t take long for one to catch up and strike the lure. The topwater strike from a Mahi-mahi is exhilarating!
Once it hits the surface, pull the rod tip back towards you quickly and reel. This will create a wake on each side of the bait to gain the attention of the fish. You don’t need to be shy with your poppers when targeting Mahi. If they want it, they’ll be sure to get it.
However, remember to vary your retrieve speeds. If one style isn’t working, do your best to speed it up or slow it down depending on how you were previously fishing. These lures will cost you around $20 a piece and are well worth the price.
Shimano ORCA Sinking Pencil Stickbait
These baits are great to use if the Mahi are fairly high in the water column. It casts a long distance and creates a nice amount of action in the water. Once it hits the water column, it will fall horizontally.
Mahi aren’t necessarily known for hitting free-falling baits, but they will strike something with action. Once these baits have fallen, you can begin your retrieve. The Shimano ORCA Stickbait will sit just below the surface and wobble back and forth.
These lures are great to use if you want thrilling chases and aggressive strikes. Plus, they’re only going to cost you around $15 a piece.
The Shimano Waxwing is about as basic as it gets, but well worth tying on when targeting Mahi-mahi. It’s another subsurface lure with nice side to side action. If you see a school of Mahi, throw on the Waxwing.
Yes, it’s true, schooling Mahi will hit almost anything, but a Waxwing will almost guarantee a fish. Once it is in the water, point your rod tip at the lure and begin reeling towards yourself. As soon as you see the Mahi chasing it, reel faster. These fish can’t stand to see a meal escape their grasp so a quick retrieve is always going to work.
Shimano Colt Sniper
You can purchase the Coltsniper Jerkbait in both a floating and sinking model. Each of these are going to work at different times of the day! These are a must for anyone looking to catch a few different types of saltwater fish.
There’s no guarantee that you’re going to reel in a Mahi with a Coltsniper Jerkbait, but if you cast it into a school, you’ll have a hard time escaping without a fight. If you are using a jerkbait, it’s not a bad idea to remove the treble hooks and go to a single hook.
Once you land these fish, they will thrash around quite a bit and have the potential to throw the lure. If you get stuck with a treble hook due to the movement of a Mahi, it will end in immense pain. The single hook should do the job and easily keep the fish pinned!