You find the Manta Rays, or sharks and you’ve found the Cobia. These great-tasting fish often swim right along with the giant rays and can regularly be caught upwards of 40 pounds. The prime season for Cobia is from March until October.
Cobia are most often caught on live bait, but there are a fair share of artificial lures that will work to catch them as well. Here is a list of some of the best baits to use as well as a few tips and tricks to take with you on your next Cobia excursion.
Cobia are willing to eat just about any live bait, but eels and crabs are your best options.
Eels are an interesting and unique bait to use for Copia. The ferocious strikes are well worth the trouble it takes to attach them to your hooks. To generate the most strikes, you’ll want to use a 5 or 7/0 circle hook and stick it in about an inch deep.
At this point, the eel is likely writhing around. Toss it into a bucket of ice water to calm it down. Once fully hooked, take it out and toss it near the Cobia. You’ll want to use around a 40-pound fluorocarbon leader as well as 30-pound braid. It’s guaranteed to earn a strike.
Blue Crabs are another must when fishing for cobia. The smaller, the better! These are best rigged alive because Cobia are known for attacking live bait much more aggressively than they do dead bait.
If you’re fishing from the beach, you can cut the crab into pieces and use it. They’ll still eat the crab, but the strike may not be as aggressive as it would be if it were living.
You can never go wrong using a Mullet to target a saltwater fish. Hook the mullet through the heart and toss it near the Cobia. These Mullet will swim as fast as they can for a short distance and quickly die. However, the short distance combined with the blood loss is all the Cobia need to see. They’ll hit it hard!
A common technique for catching Cobia is to chum for them. If you throw out a chum line, they’ll quickly come to investigate and then the fun begins!
Cobia will also hit artificials, but they need to be presented well and look extremely realistic!
Bucktails jigs are great to use when Cobia fishing. They love the bright colors and obnoxious look of these lures. Be sure you have a 2 or 3 ounce lure with a strong hook. They’ll give the lure as much as it can handle so be confident that it can deal with a 40 or 50 pound cobia.
You can either let the bucktail free fall or you can fish it with a slow retrieve. The free fall is a great method if the fish aren’t swimming over to inspect it. If the Cobia swim over to take a closer look, start your slow retrieve. They’ll instinctively strike!
Plastic eels are a no brainer for anyone looking to use artificial baits and fish for Cobia. Be sure the eel is rigged more towards the skinnier side of the bait. This will allow for it to float more naturally in the water.
Cast these in an area that the Cobia will have to swim past and you won’t have to wait long to hook up to your first fish. It’s also not a bad idea to cast it and let it sink for a while. The fish will strike it on the fall. Hitting the Cobia in the head with these lures is the worst thing you can do!
Fly fishing for Cobia is a highly recommended option. They’re going to hit flies and give you wonderful fights. Be sure your fly imitates eels or baitfish. The larger the fly, the larger the fish! If the water is clear, be sure to use brighter flies and if it’s dark, use darker flies.
You’ll want these flies to sink. You can fish them similar to how you would a Bucktail Jig. Let it sink and if the fish don’t come and investigate, repeat the process. If the Cobia swim near it, start stripping towards yourself at a fairly rapid pace.
Cobia require heavy tackle. These fish are extremely strong and will test the limits of everything you throw at them. You’ll want a 50-pound test leader around 6-8 feet long. These larger and thicker leaders can be an issue for Cobia and if you aren’t receiving strikes, drop it to 40 pounds. Attach the leader to 225 yards of 20-30 pound braid.
Always be prepared to go heavier if you keep getting snapped.
You’ll want to use a 6 or 7 foot spinning rod to fish for Cobia. These shorter and thicker rods are plenty powerful and can handle the fights of these larger fish.
You can throw Bucktail jigs, weighted plastic eels with these rods. They’re great to use in the flats and beaches where the fish have plenty of room to run.
Conventional tackle also has a place when fishing for Cobia. If you’re fishing near structure or around any place that the Cobia can break you off, conventional tackle is the way to go. You’ll have more leverage with conventional tackle and can control some more of their movements.
Conventional tackle is smart to use when fishing with live baits. The larger fish will hit live bait and you need to be prepared to fight them!
For your fly setup, you’ll need a 10-13 weight rod with a 10 or 11-weight reel. These rods should be around 9-10 feet to help you make some longer casts. Make sure your reel has a large arbor because Cobia will burn through quite a bit of your line.
Also, 80 to 120 pound tippet is a must for Cobia. They’re a strong fish and will put your fly setup to the test!
Tips and Tricks
Like mentioned above, the prime Cobia fishing season is from March to October. If you’re targeting them in Florida, the best time to go is between March and May. The waters are cool enough and the fish are hanging out near shore.
You need to be prepared to be on the move when fishing for Cobia. If you don’t catch them within the first 15 or 20 minutes, it’s time to move spots. Depending on where you’re at in the water, you’ll be able to see them schooling.
Speed and power are the name of the game when it comes to targeting Cobia. Whether you’re jigging or fly fishing, the fish are aggressive. At times, dropping a jig near them will work. If it doesn’t, increase your retrieve speed and use some more action.
These fish will still feed in the middle of the day. Plus, the middle of the day provides the best opportunities to sight fish for them. Sight fishing is an extremely useful way to target Cobia because they’re not the type of fish to spook. Fishing in the middle of the day allows you to decrease the glare on the water!