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Fishing Tips on How to Catch Barracuda in Key West

Key West Barracuda Fishing

The waters surrounding Key West and the lower Florida Keys provides for some incredible

Barracuda fishing

.  Barracudas offer some of the most exciting and fun fishing you will ever experience.  Let Key West charter fishing guide, Grif Helwig,  take you an exciting Barracuda backcountry fishing charter.

Cudas will hit hard and take off like a runaway freight train.  They often will leap out of the water much higher than even a Tarpon.   We guarantee after landing a big Cuda you will be hooked for life.

As soon as the first cold front hits the area in late fall a large amount of bait fish will move into the shallow flats.
You will see an explosion of red fin, needle fish, mullet and pilchers invade the shallower waters.
Fisherrman holding a large Barracuda caught while on a Key West fishing charter.
Key West Barracuda Fishing
Barracuda fisherman holding a large Barracuda
Fishing the Flats for

Giant Barracuda in Key West

Best Place to Catch a Key West Barracuda

Barracudas, being one of the most aggressive fish there is, will be one of the first predators to take advantage of this seafood buffet.   They often are the first to arrive and last to leave the shallower flats areas. 

Many of the more popular Key West fish species can be hard to find and catch in the winter months which makes the Barracuda a great option to fill in the void.

One of the best places to look for Barracuda in the flats is to find some white bottom spots.  Barracuda will often lay in wait on the edges of these clear sandy bottom areas waiting to ambush anything that is unfortunate enough to swim bye. 

You will also be able to target Barracuda by sight fishing which is also an effective method.  Polarized glasses are an absolute must if you plan on sight fishing.

Rod & Reel Choice For Barracuda Fishing in Key West

I would choose a rod in the 7 to 8 1/2 foot range with a medium or medium light action.  The longer rod will make it much easier to get the distance you need to make the longer casts.   Expect to cast and reel a lot when fishing for Barracudas.   A smooth cranking reel with a high gear ratio is extremely import.  A reel with a good drag is also just as important.

Cudas become underwater heat seeking missiles once hooked.  You'll swear you latched onto a submarine if you're lucky enough to hookup with a 30 or 40lb cuda. A reel without a good drag system will put you at a huge disadvantage with any of the larger fish.
Daiwa BG Series fishing reel
Daiwa BG Series
Star Barracuda fishing rod

Best Barracuda Fishing Rod

One of our favorite choices for fishing rods is the 8' Star Plasma medium action rod.    This sturdy rod makes long casts with seemingly just a flick of your wrists and has enough backbone to handle almost any size fish.  Smaller fish are still fun to catch with the rods medium fast action.   The rod sells for around $200 and comes with a lifetime warranty.

One of the best bangs for your buck when it come to fishing reels is the Daiwa BG series.  These reels which sell for around $100 come with many features that you will usually only find in the more expensive reels. 

If you have a bigger budget there are huge number of more expensive reels that you may want to consider.  A top end reel will set you back anywhere from around $200 to $500.
Barracuda soft jerk bait

Best Line & Lure Combination For Barracuda Fishing

You will want to use a line weight of between 10 and 20lb braided line tipped with a wire leader.  Choose a wire leader that's not too heavy of a gauge and non-reflective such as brownish color. 

Without a doubt the most effective method is to cast a large surface lure, such as a Rapala Subwalk crankbait or a soft bait such as a rubber twister tail.  The preferred bait by most hardcore Cuda fisherman are the soft flexible lures.  Barracudas can be wrecking balls when it comes to destroying lures.  They can slice a 10lb Amberjack completing in half so imagine how your soft bait will fare.  

You can make some very tuff homemade lures fairly easy by purchasing some surgical tubing.  You can rigg the tubing with a little curl so it twirls when you retrieve it or you can just use a straight piece to mimic a swimming eel fish.  You will want to use at least two treble hooks with either rig one in the front and one in the rear.

How to Make Homemade Barracuda Tube Lures

How to Catch Barracuda - Best Fishing Methods

The key is to cast your lure as far as you can and retrieve it almost as fast as you can.    Cudas are one of the fastest fish in the ocean so it's almost impossible to make your retrieve too fast. 

A fast retrieve will trigger the instinctive strike reaction found in most Barracudas.  If you have a Barracuda following your bait never slow the retrieve down or it almost a given that they will abandon the chase.

The best way to set the hook on a Barracuda is to simply continue to retrieve you lure at the same pace.  The Cuda will hook themselves and you just have to be ready to hang on.

Barracida can be finicky eaters and they tend to be a very skittish fish so a stealthy presentation is often a must.  You never want to land your lure too close to a prowling Cuda.  

It's best to cast well beyond the fish and retrieve on an angle that isn't overly aggressive towards the fish.  Barracuda can pick up you're lure a long ways in the clear water found on the flats.

You will also want to maintain a safe distance to also avoid spooking the fish.  Stay way back and make long casts is your best bet.
Veteran Key West fishing guide Grif Helwig and client holding a large Barracuda
Captain Grif with another happy guest.

Best Barracuda Fishing Tips - Summary

To summarize in a nut shell your best chance to land a trophy Barracuda is to make long casts, fast retrieves and cover lots of ground. 

We guarantee with these techniques you will catch more than your fair share of Barracuda. 
Fisherman holding a Barracuda on a Fishing Charter Boat.
Professional Fishing guide, Captain Grif,  offers many exciting custom Key West fishing charters including:  light tackle fishing charters, fishing charters for sharks & barracudas, fly fishing charters, fishing charters for trophy Tarpon, charter fishing for Permit & Bone Fish, backcountry flats fishing charters, reef fishing adventures, ship wreck fishing charters, night charter fishing and more.....
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