How to Catch Cobia Fish? Bait, Lures, Gear (Huge Guide)

Welcome to our “How to Catch Florida Cobia – A Complete Guide.” Learn how to catch these big fish on rod and reel and other essential gear. Find out about bait, lures and gear. Cobia is one of Florida’s most POWERFUL Fish!

[Page Updated – 1 August 2020. Bookmark this page (Windows CNTRL+D, MAC CMD+D) so you don’t lose it.]


COBIA GAMEFISH RATINGS

Florida cobia fish (Rachycentron canadum)
Look at all the fin area on this Florida Cobia. This is a powerful fish!
  • Size: 7/10 stars 
  • Fight: 7/10 stars 
  • Difficulty to Catch: 5/10 stars
  • Taste: 7/10 stars

INDEX to Sections in this Guide:


How To Catch Cobia | Guide

PRO TIP – Cobia are also called Ling, Black Salmon, Black Kingfish, Lemonfish, Black Bonito, Striped Cat, and ‘Man in a Brown Suit’.


Cobia FACTS

Species: Rachycentron canadum

Similar Species: Cobia don’t closely resemble any other fish I can compare them with except saltwater catfish. Maybe. It’s also somewhat close to the remora in the Echeneidae family, but is much thicker looking, and is a stronger-built fish.

IUCN Redlist Status: LC – Least Concern. There are lots of cobia and the population is spread across the globe. See map below.

Appearance: Cobia is a dark, long, thick, powerful fish with strong tail and long and strong fins on the dorsal and ventral. Wide head and mouth resemble big catfish. Cobia reaches around 79 inches (2 meters) in length and typically grows to 43 inches (110 cm).

Cobia fish are long, compressed vertically, thin fish with a wide head that is somewhat flat on top – resembling a catfish. Color is brown, sometimes dark brown turning to white belly. There is a dark lateral stripe running from the eye to the tail. The lower jaw extends out further than the upper jaw. Young cobia have more than one lateral line.

Length: Cobia are usually less than or about 3 feet long. Maximum length is about 78-inches (nearly 2 meters)

Weight: Average weight is about 30 lbs. That’s a nice sized fish! The maximum weight for a record cobia is around 172 lbs. Fish 50 lbs. and greater are not all that rare and can be seen from Florida to Virginia. Cobia grow quickly, so they are ideal for fish farming.


Cobia RECORDS

The biggest cobia ever caught on rod and reel (hook/line) was a massive 141 lbs. and took nearly 60 minutes to land. No, this didn’t happen off the coast of Florida. This was in the country of Oman in the Hallaniyat Islands. Like other big fish, cobia at that size is not great to eat!

Florida Record Cobia: The record for cobia in Florida was close to the world record at 130 lbs. .06 oz. and caught in Dustin, FL. by Peter McCollester.

Range/Distribution: Distribution of cobia ranges across the globe to the north and south of the equator where the water is constantly warm.

Habitat: Rachycentron canadum exists between 0 and 50 meters ( feet) of depth in saltwater. Cobia is a pelagic species and is found over shallow coral reef and especially along coasts with submerged rocks.

Cobia are found near shore with inlets and bays, possibly because the tide effects can be fierce, with strong gushing water. Cobia can often be found around bridge pilings, buoys, rocks, and other submerged structure.

Diet: Cobia prey on squid, crabs, elasmobranchs and teleosts primarily. Using live crabs and small fish for bait is recommended. Drop the baits at different depths to find cobia.

Young: Young Eggs are planktonic. Depending on location, the spawning season can last from April to September. During the spawning season it forms large aggregations and spawns once every 9-12 days or 15-20 times in a season, generally in open water (Rodger and Zharen 2012).

Predators: As young.


WHY Catch Cobia?

Florida cobia fish.

Cobia are Strong!

Cobia is a fun fish to catch because they put up a heck of a fight. They are bigger fish, averaging around 30 lbs., but anglers are frequently catching cobia in the 50+ lb. range.

Are Cobia Good to EAT?

Some people focus on catching cobia for the dinner table because they are excellent eating. Bonefish Grill in the northeast of the USA regularly has cobia on the menu. If you’re interested in trying it first, here’s an interactive map to find cobia for dinner.


WHERE To Find Cobia?

Cobia are widespread, all over Florida – but also all over every warm area north and south of the equator. Even in Thailand, I’ve seen them in large outdoor fish ponds. The map below shows cobia distribution throughout the world. Image courtesy of IUCNRedlist.org.

World Cobia distribution map.


What Do Cobia EAT?

I think most people would like the taste of Cobia, it tastes something like Amberjack.


HOW to Catch Cobia – Techniques

From a Small Boat – Kayak, Canoe

It may be possible to catch .

From a Fishing Boat

Fishing for Cobia from shore.


WHEN Is the Best Time to Catch Cobia?

Cobia travel down the east coast


Cobia GEAR – Big, Tough Tackle Necessary

Best Rod for Cobia?

A 7-foot long .


Best Reel for Cobia?

Baitcasting / Trolling Reels

I love P.

My advice is to buy.

Cobia Spinning Reel?

Best Spinning Reel for Cobia? .


Best Line for Cobia?

Twenty-pound test braided line is great for Cobia and just about anything else under 20 lbs. you’ll find in Florida waters. Sure, there are exceptions, but you can’t really go wrong using it as your all-around line.

We recommend the following line for Cobia.

Line20/8 lb. braided is perfect for your main line.


Best Cobia Hooks?

The best hooks for Cobia are.

Top Vanadium Steel Hooks Recommendation – simply the best.


Best Cobia Rigs?

Cobia Rig – Our usual Cobia rig is tm.

Best Cobia Rig

  • Strong Swivel – one strong 2 loop swivel.
  • Line20/8 lb. braided is fine for your main line. The chance of finding a massive Cobia just isn’t high enough to require heavier line.
  • Leader – a very thin wire leader is advised for Cobia, as they will bite right through any monofilament and though more difficult, can get through braided line as well.
  • Hook1/0 Owner or Gamakatsu hooks

Bait for your hooks is live or dead .

Best Artifical Lure for Cobia?

Something shiny, .

These Lures work like magic with Cobia


Cobia LAWS in Florida

Florida fishing limits are split by Florida State waters and Federal waters. It is your responsibility to check the latest laws on the Official Florida Game and Fish Commission here before you fish.

Legal Gear for Harvesting Cobia

Fishing with spears, gigs, hook and line, seine, and cast net is permissible.


East Coast Laws

  • Minimum Size Limit: 12-inches to tail fork.
  • Daily Bag Limit: 10 per angler per day.
  • Season: Open all year.

Federal Waters Laws

  • Minimum Size Limit: 12-inches to tail fork.
  • Daily Bag Limit: Federal waters: 15 per angler per day.
  • Season: Open all year.

NOTE – a full list of rules for fishing for Cobia can be found at the Florida Rules website here.


Get the Fishing App

Cobia laws can change at any time so it’s a good idea to be ready for anything. Nothing quite like the law rolling up to you in their little speedboat asking to see your fishing license, driver’s license, catch, and rigs. Information on our site is up-to-date the day we publish it, but that can change tomorrow. If fishing from 3 to 200 nautical miles off the coast of Florida, Georgia, South or North Carolina, you can use this mobile application to stay up to date on the fishing rules on the Atlantic Coast.

Farming Cobia

Cobia are farmed for food a.


How to COOK Cobia?

Cobia is decent fish to eat.

PRO TIP – Adult Cobia are known to have worms and parasites especially in the gonads. Please cook and eat only small fish around 12″.


Cobia Guide Resources

Image credits: Photographs are from creative commons sources not requiring attribution, or from government websites used editorially or with permission.

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