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Best Bait for Mahi-Mahi Fishing

Mahi-Mahi is a fast-growing, widespread fish that’s popular for sportfishing. Because of both its unique coloring and high-quality meat, it’s an easy favorite of many fishermen.

mahi mahi swimming

While the fish live primarily in tropical regions, you can find them in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. 

Baiting a Mahi fish isn’t difficult, but having the right kind of bait is important for success. Using the wrong hooks and missing the school can certainly deter your operations, but your bait is the end-all, be-all. 

Check out the best bait for Mahi below. 

Threadfin Herring

Threadfin Herring make excellent bait for a wide range of fish species, but they work especially well when fishing for Mahi.

threadfin shad

This small fish is tough to catch, so you might prefer picking them up the easy way at a bait shop. 

Some of the best bait is live bait, so we recommend keeping them alive on either a shallow or a bottom rig. Threadfin Herring also makes good cut bait. 

Ballyhoo

If you’re an avid fisherman already, you likely know all about the Ballyhoo fish. This popular bait fish is used as both live and cut bait – though live bait works best for Mahi. 

single ballyhoo for bait

It’s easy to catch the plentiful Ballyhoo species; all you need is a throw net and some chum, and you’re in business. The thin, long fish swims in large schools at the surface of the water in warm climates. 

Cut Bait

One easy way to find success during a summer Mahi fishing trip is by using cut bait. While we’re advocates for using live bait, cut bait is easy to find and simple to use. 

saltwater catfish on a fishing line

You can use cut bait of all kinds of varieties for Mahi fishing. From Ballyhoo and Threadfin Herring to sardines, mackerel, and even squid, cut bait can do the trick. 

You can catch and make cut bait by netting whatever species are abundant in your area. Then, simply cut the fish into one-inch cubes and hook it up on your favorite rig. 

Mullet

With over 80 species in the Mullet family, this fish is an excellent resource for Mahi bait. Mullet fish are most well-known for their jumping and skipping habits. They hang out right at the water’s surface and often jump into the air.

a single mullet for bait

Mullet fish can grow as long as 2.5 feet, so just a few of the largest ones can provide plenty of cut bait for Mahi. Smaller Mullets make great live baits. 

Cigar Minnows

Cigar minnows are very common baitfish that are super similar to Spanish sardines. Their silvery body is ideal for catching the attention of any Mahi that comes your way. They’re perfect for live baiting as well as cut baiting. 

Cigar minnows dead fish bait

Catching cigar minnows isn’t impossible, but it can be tricky. This little fish has a sharp ridge on its side that can cut your finger, along with two spiked fins. 

Pilchards

Pilchards are one of the most popular types of bait in the fishing industry today. Because of this fact, it’s super common that most fishermen choose to buy these small fish rather than catch them. 

Pilchard

Pilchards usually come in two frozen forms: block and individual. Individuals are best because you can defrost only as many as you need. With a frozen block, you have to thaw the whole thing just to get a few – and they don’t refreeze well. 

Small Blue Runners

Small blue runners make Mahi fishing fun because catching these fish as live bait is a joy all on its own. 

blue runner fish swimming underwater

You can find this stunning blue, purple, and yellow fish in the Atlantic Ocean from Canada to Great Britain. Though they’re not the largest fish in the sea, they are strong, so fishing for them can be a challenge. 

Rigging up blue runners as live bait works best with circle hooks. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to snag some healthy and tasty Mahi-Mahi for your dinner table, your best chance at success is using one of the bait options we talked about today.

Many of the fish listed above are super common and very popular for fishing for a wide range of species, and they make Mahi fishing a breeze.

Rocco Smith

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