Best Bait For Deep Sea Fishing – What Will Land Me More Fish?

You might be wondering what is the best bait for deep sea fishing, even if it’s your first ever chartered trip or you have been out numerous times on the water it always helps to refresh your memory on the different kinds of bait work best for different fish. 

Whilst it would be impossible to list every fish in the ocean and the bait required to catch them, we are going to cover some of the most popular deep sea game fish and explain which lures and bait is likely to be advantageous when it comes to catching them. 

best bait for deep sea fishing

Everybody knows you need the correct gear whether that’s the rod, reel and line. What is sometimes overlooked or considered last is the bait needed to catch the fish. However we believe it should be first. What good is it buying the best rod and reel combos to then place the wrong bait on your hook and never catch your target fish? 

So let’s take a look at some of the most popular game fish and the baits they tend to bite for. The gamefish we are going to cover are the following:

Best Bait For Deep Sea Fishing


best bait for deep sea fishing

Most anglers will agree that when hunting down kingfish that natural baits will work better than artificial lures. Baits that commonly work well when catching Kingfish is ribbonfish, squid, and menhaden shad.

Whilst you may get some luck using artificial lures and if your charter recommends them then go with that option. Using these live baits is just something to keep in mind. 


best saltwater lures for surf fishing

Another popular deep sea game fish is the Cobia. Cobia are highly aggressive fish which means they commonly strike both artificial lures and live bait.

Some Cobia’s can grow to be over 100lbs in weight and put up a great fight. To go after this fish most people would use it’s natural diet which includes, eels, shrimp, squid, crabs and other smaller fish. Many people fish for small fish in the same areas as the Cobia and then use these fish to land the Cobia. 

As we mentioned, lures can also work great for catching these fish. Many people will opt for plastic bait similar to the live fish it would eat such as a a plastic swimming eel which has realistic movement in the water. 


deep sea fishing bait

The name of the Mahi-Mahi originates from Hawaii and translates to ‘very-strong’ and anyone who has caught a Mahi-Mahi understands that the name is true. Many bright artificial lures with realistic movement in the water can be great for catching this fish – try to stay as natural as possible. 

Live bait also works great as this is a fish that feeds on other smaller sea-life. When it comes to living bait, crabs, squid, and other smaller fish can work great. 


best deep sea fishing bait

Shark fishing can be an amazing experience and there is so many different species of sharks that can be easily caught. However due to the huge amount of shark species and they all differ largely from one to the other it can be difficult to recommend a live bait which suits all. For example the bait which catches a tiger shark is massively different to that which catches a reef shark. 

For larger shark breeds such as tiger sharks and hammer heads I would opt for larger bait. Some popular choices are using full stingrays or bonito. Although with larger predatory sharks any bloody/oily large bait choice seems to work well. 

If you are hunting down smaller sharks such as reef sharks or black tip, it’s wise to use smaller bait fish or chop your bait up to accommodate the sharks smaller mouth size. Maybe only use half or quarter of a ray, or smaller bait fish such as a bumber. 


best bait for sailfish

One of the most popular fish to catch in the deep sea is the Sailfish due to it’s unique and iconic look. Nothing looks better than posing for a photo with one of these stunning fish and they put up a great fight. 

Both live bait and lures work very well when hunting down Sailfish. They tend to eat mackerel, small tuna, ballyhoo, squid, octopus, mullet and more. As for lures, the lure should be able to recommend whether it’s suitable for sailfish but I would opt for something bright, small enough for a sailfish and something that moves naturally through the water. Remember a lure is meant to replicate a real prey fish. 


best bait for tarpon

Whilst it is possible to catch Tarpon on a lure I would always recommend using live bait, they eat pinfish, mullet, crabs and shrimp in the wild. Any of these choices should be great for hooking a Tarpon. 


best bait for wahoo

Wahoo are an incredibly fun fish to catch. Using the correct lures and baits you will be able to land one of these fish. As far as live bait goes I would troll with Ballyhoo and Mullet. 


best bait for tuna

Tuna are a popular fish to catch but make sure that you are allowed to fish for tuna in your area as they are often restricted due to over fishing. Tuna are large fish which can be caught on live bait, use something they would naturally eat in the wild. I would opt for live or dead mackerel trolling off the back of the boat. 

Many people also have great success trolling with chum and a brightly colored lure. 


best bait for marlin

Another beautiful fish which makes for an excellent fishing experience is the marlin. Marlin respond very well to fast moving live bait. I would opt for something they would commonly eat in the wild such as black-fin tuna, bonito and skipjack.

So that just about covers all the main deep sea game fish that you are likely fishing for. We hope this article has helped you make an informed choice on choosing the best bait for deep sea fishing. If you have any other recommendations on bait and lures you have found successful please leave a comment below as it can help other people out. 

Happy Fishing!

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