How to Catch Cobia 101: Expert Tips and Advice

Cobia is known by many names including cabio and lemon fish. However, many people refer to cobia as crab eaters because crabs are some of their favorite dishes. If you would like to know how to catch cobia, then you should probably learn how to use crabs as bait. Cobia bodies are long, slender, and have an unusually shaped snout.

They also have a depressed head with a protruding bottom jaw. They have a dark brown coloring that gradually fades to white towards their underbelly. In addition, the fish have distinct dark strips running the entire length of their bodies from the head to the tail. The dorsal fins of this fish are offset by smaller fins.


What Is Cobia?

What is Cobia

One of the most distinct features about cobia is that they often hold their pectoral fins horizontally. This gives it the look of a shark, especially when viewed from an aerial perspective. It is a fast growing fish species that can reach lengths of up to 33 inches or more within two years.

I have reeled in cobia weighing 80lbs on several occasions. I have also reeled in a 100 pounder on a few occasions. The heavier cobias that I have managed to catch are usually females.

Cobias prefer staying in warm waters. Therefore, they often migrate in search of suitable warm waters to spawn, which often occurs during the early summer months.

Some cobia species live permanently in the warm, deep waters of the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico. The most suitable time to go for cobia fishing is during late fall and mid spring. During this time, migratory cobia usually returns to deep waters to feed around reefs and wrecks.

Cobias can often be found feeding around buoys, sea walls, and bridges among other places. They are popular fish in harbors, inlets, channels, and bays. It is important to know that cobia thrive in a protected environment.

The daily limit is one cobia per person. However, you can use diverse fishing techniques including spear fishing to catch cobia.

fresh cobia fish market

Many anglers enjoy fishing cobia because they are not easy to work out and catch. They are very unpredictable and can appear in a school, alone, in the shallows, and in deep waters. However, they can also be easy to find, especially when they are shadowing manta rays or sharks. Cobias look like small sharks and are often mistaken for the big fish.

Preparation For Fishing Cobia

1. Rigs And Techniques

Rigs and Techniques

Encountering a cobia is one thing, but tempting it is another thing altogether. Some of the most effective baits for fishing for cobia include squid, fish strips, and mulies. You can add some weights to these baits or not use weight at all. Cobias also respond relatively well to lures especially trolled or cast bibbed lures. They will also respond well to jigs and poppers.

One of the most productive ways to fish for cobia is by sight casting soft plastics and other lures on cobias sitting on manta rays or sharks. However, you may lose a few lures as they often hook the host and not the intended fish. Once hooked, cobia can have long and powerful runs. At some points, they may come in quickly before going on another powerful run. It is important to know that cobia is a very powerful fish. Therefore, be aware of their power when fishing for cobia.

2. When To Find Cobia

Find Cobia

Cobia can be found throughout the year in some places. However, they generally have a migratory nature. They usually migrate to find suitable waters for living and spawning. They often move North during spring and back south during fall as the cool weather sets in. You can find great catch when you fish for cobia in the beaches and near buoys, bridges, and markers during fall and spring.

3. Where To Catch Cobia

Where to Catch Cobia

Cobias are migratory fish, therefore, where you find them will vary depending on the season. However, you are likely to spot them along beaches, inshore structures, reefs, and sea grass beds wherever you find them. During winter, you are likely to find cobia inshore near or around markers, buoys, and bridges.

4. Tackle For Cobia

Tackle for Cobia


Consider using heavy tackle when fishing for cobia. This fish are powerful and can make strong runs pulling your line into structures or simply breaking weak lines.

5. Spinning Tackle For Cobia

Spinning Tackle for Cobia

When fishing for cobia along sea grass flats, it is advisable to use spinning tackles because of their user-friendly nature and advanced drag systems. Spinning tackles are suitable for casting heavy jigs and plastic eels because they are easy to use and manipulate and look quite realistic. The lures are also heavy and allow anglers to cast their lines farther as spinning lures do not often cast as far as conventional lures.

6. Conventional Tackle For Cobia

Conventional Tackle for Cobia

Although it may take a while to learn how to use conventional tackle, you are likely not to go back to using a spinning lure once you have got it . It is advisable to use a conventional tackle when fishing for cobia on reefs or other structures that the cobia may pull you into.

Never underestimate the power and strength of a cobia. Conventional tackles provide more leverage because they allow you to turn the fish as it tries to run from structures. In addition, conventional tackles allow you to cast farther and more accurately.

7. Fly Rods for Cobia

Fly rods for Cobia

The size of the fly rod you choose for cobia fishing is determined by your experience. Consider using the largest rod available because this will allow you to use a heavier line, which will allow you to cast farther. You will need a heavier line to increase the chances of landing a fish.

8. Baits for Cobia

Crabs consist the primary diet for cobia. However, they also eat eels, shrimp, and other small fish. All these prey make excellent baits for cobia. The fish seems to prefer young blue crabs. You can also use eels , pinfish, and mullets as live baits for cobia. In any case, the bait that you catch in a given area is what the cobia essentially feed on.

Baits for Cobia

Consider fishing with live baits; whether live or dead. The best baits in order include crabs, pinfish, mullet, threadfin, and ladyfish. If you prefer to use cut baits, mix them up with quartered pieces of crabs to make the baits more attractive to the cobia. The diet of this fish is predominantly composed of crabs.

9. Lures For Cobia

Cobias are aggressive creatures and can be fished using a wide range of lures. The fish will easily strike artificial lures. One of the best lures for cobia is a plastic swimming eel, which can be used in a wide range of fishing situations and conditions including along beaches, inshore structures, and on reefs. You may also use large, colorful lures such as jigs, plastic crabs, shrimp, and fish.

Lures for Cobia

I find rigged plastic eels to be the best plastic lure for cobia. These lures range in size from small lures that look like worms to large plastic eels measuring eight to ten inches. Cobias are likely to strike such baits if you put it in front of them. Avoid hitting the fish with the lure. Instead, cast it in such a way that it swims past the fish.

If you still wonder when choosing lures, here I have the post talk about the best lures used by the expert.​

How To Fish For Cobia

Cobias are often found near structures where small fish, shrimps, squid, and crabs are likely to gather. Some of the best places to fish for cobia include around buoys, reefs, wrecks, sea grass, and floating debris.

How to Fish For Cobia buoys

Sight fishing is one of the most popular cobia fishing techniques, especially when you are using a light tackle or when fly-fishing. If you prefer to sight fish, cast the bait a few feet away from the fish and let it move in front of the fish’s path. On retrieval, be sure to use lots of action to attract them towards the bait or lure.

How to Fish For Cobia lure bait

Consider using cobia lures or baits that make noise. However, plastic baits can also be quite effective. The most important factor is to set the hook in such a way that the bait runs true in the water.

Cobias are also known to follow sharks and manta rays in the hope of scavenging food that these predators catch. You are likely to find cobia around eagle rays and sharks during cobia season.

Manta rays

Although you can successfully fish for cobia at various depths, I have caught cobia right beneath the boat I was fishing from. However, this presents its own unique set of challenges because catching cobia at such close range can be physically challenging because of their immense power and strength.

Cobia fishing is a lot different from conventional fishing. Cobia does not chase down food like other types of fish. Therefore, fishing for cobia requires a more laid-back approach. They often hide out in structures and wait for their favorite fish to come to them. It is much easier to fish for cobia when the waters are clear or when the tide is changing. Cobias often swim facing the outgoing tide waiting for fish to come towards them!

I hope you found this article useful. I wish you best of luck on your next cobia fishing expedition and hope these tips will help you make a great catch.

Please share these tips with your fellow anglers on social media.

Lucas Bryant

Hi, I’m Lucas Bryant and fishing is one of the most important parts of my life. I usually go fishing with my friends and have many fishing competition. That why I like to research and create many tips to get more fishes to win a race. I hope my experience will be useful for you.

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