Barracuda Fly Fishing

Found in many tropical to temperate waters throughout the Indo-Pacific region and subtropical Atlantic, the barracuda is a fiercely opportunistic predator that puts up a good fight. We love fly fishing for barracuda because you need more than the best barracuda flies, rods, and tackle – you need your wits about you!

Fisherman releasing a barracuda
cosmoledo barracuda
Barracuda caught by a fisherman

Known as the perfect ambush predator, the barracuda fish is easily distinguishable with its elongated cylindrical body. Its long and pointed snout displays a distinctive undershot bottom jaw with razor-sharp Barracuda teeth that stand out. The body of the barracuda fish is covered in well-formed scales that give it an almost snake-like pattern. The colouration changes from blue-grey above to silvery, chalky white below, while a prominent lateral line extends from behind the head all the way to the tail.

Key Facts About Barracuda

barracuda max speed is 43 KM/H

Barracuda Max Speed

43 km/h

Length of a Barracuda- fish

Barracuda Max Length

1.5 m

Weight of a barracuda fish

Barracuda Max Weight

15 kg

Diet of a barracuda fish

Barracuda Diet

Carnivore

two fishermen with a barracuda

The Search For Barracuda

Barracuda are generally not hard to spot. Up until the moment they attack, they are slow-moving saltwater fish, often lying motionless in ambush. Many of the large barracuda fish that inhabit the flats, mangroves, and surf are territorial fish and can often be seen on the same tides as the following baitfish into the shallows. It is not uncommon to find great barracuda size over a metre in barely a foot of water.

Best Baccacuda Flies

Deceiver Flies

Barracuda hunt bigger prey, so when targeting them, it’s ideal to use a baitfish imitation. A Deceiver pattern works best when lightly dressed, sparsely tied and stripped through the water as quickly as possible. Fishing on sand requires more natural colours such as white, tan, and olive. When fishing in the surf or on a darker bottom, using slightly darker colours such as black-red, blue, dark green, and brown to match the habitat is suggested.

Sempers

The sempers fly, like all semper patterns, have an incredible movement in the water, which makes them irresistible to any cruising Barracuda fish. These flies are generic fly patterns, which can copy various lifeforms, such as squid or baitfish. Made from mostly natural materials, such as bucktail and feathers that give it a great movement underwater. Do note that with these flies, long and fast-as-possible strips or retrieves need to be made.

Poppers

Traditional popper patterns are becoming very popular as they create a greater disturbance on the water, which can assist in drawing the fish’s attention from some distance away. From the splash and sound they produce, these flies will be noticed from a much further distance. Poppers are generally fished over deeper waters, such as drifting on the skiff in the lagoons, casting into the channels as well as floating on the shallow outer reefs of the atolls.

Best Barracuda Rod Set Up

For the large barracuda, an 11 or 12 weight rod set up with a balanced reel that has a strong and reliable drag system is most suitable. The same line rod and reel setup we use for giant trevally are ideal, negating the need for carrying an extra rod. The leader is constructed using eight feet of straight 100 lbs line attached to one foot of 80 lbs knottable wire. Either a bright or double uni-knot is ideal. This is a versatile system, and while not ideal for giant trevally, it will allow you to take a shot and play a GT if need be. Without using wire trace, the chances of landing a large barracuda are slim, as their razor-sharp teeth have no problem cutting through 130 lbs mono.

Head of a barracuda fish

Best Tides For Barracuda

As a rule of thumb, barracuda is mostly targeted during the pushing tide. During this time, there is lots of water pushing behind the fish on the flats with a smaller chance of them getting trapped, which is a risk during the dropping tide, thereby leaving them more at ease. As the cool freshwater flows onto the shallow flats, many invertebrates such as crab, shrimp, and worms leave their holes. This, in turn, brings bonefish and other small fish onto the flats to feed, and the chain continues up to the bigger predatory fish like the barracuda.

Barracuda caught by a fisherman
two fishermen caught a large barracuda
Two fishermen caught a barracuda
Releasing a barracuda

Making The Catch

A good tip when making the cast is to look at where you want the fly to land rather than the fish, as this helps prevent spooking the fish by landing the fly too close. Unlike small barracuda fish, large barracuda fish must be tempted onto the fly, so let the fly sink. Once the fish is 2 m (6 ft) away, one long, fast-paced full extension strip works wonders, then stop. Big fish will reverse to build a run-up before coiling like a spring and then slamming the fly – there will be no doubt when he has taken the fly!

Leave the fly & let him hammer it

If there is no reaction or he moves away, repeats the long strip. Do this until you see the fish’s body language becomes more positive. On taking the fly, keep the rod low and strip set. Several long, hard strip sets are needed. Clear your line and still keep your rod at a low angle. Play the fish and allow the drag on the reel to tighten. Big barracuda do jump, but when using a 6/0 hook and 100 lbs line, there is little need to bow to the fish.

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