How to catch Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi)

About: Mahi Mahi, also known as Dolphin Fish, are a fast growing Pelagic fish. Commonly found in warmer water, but occasionally have been caught off the coast of Victoria and South Australia by tuna fishermen.

Dolphin fish can grow up to 35-45 kilos and up to around 180cm.


The further south you fish, the more critical role the currents play. So keep an eye out on the sea surface temperatures and look for those warm spots.


Mahi Mahi will be found chasing bait fish in the open water but tend to hang around floating debris like driftwood or sea weed. There are man made items which are put out to achieve the same effect these are called FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices). There are some FADs which are put out every year and the GPS marks are released.


Mahi Mahi chase all sorts of bait fish, so consider using Pilchards or Garfish as a start. Otherwise, they will take all sorts of hard bodies lures, soft plastics as well as skirted lures.

Mahi Mahi are a very aggressive fish and will tend to get excited by lures that make a lot of noise and flash. On some trips, we’ve caught small tuna and have had Dolphin fish chase the tuna all the way to the boat.


Since you may come across some larger specimens, or even a big Tuna or Billfish, make sure you use some quality tackle. You can use either overhead or spin outfits. Something like a 15kilo rod with 30lb line is an ideal starting point.

Something like a Shimano Tyrnos 20 is a good start for a reel matched with a suitable overhead 10kg rod and 10kg line. You can get on from eBay here
Shimano Tyrnos 20 Overhead Lever Drag Fishing Reel on eBay

Although Dolphin fish are strong and aggressive, they don’t tend to fight too dirty, so with some patience and skill you can catch them on very light gear. Especially if you don’t mind chasing them a little in your boat.

They have teeth and can chaff the leader, fluorocarbon can give you a little more strength in that department.


Tie a double in the end of your line using a plait or Bimini knot and then put some quality 60lb leader on the end either by tying it on or better yet invest in a wind on leader. Whether you use lures or bait, the same outfit can be used. Both bibbed minnows and skirted lures are known to be effective on Mahi Mahi.

If you are using bait, try rigging a running sinker with a set of ganged hooks on the end. This way you can rig a whole Pilchard and cast it and let if slowly sink. If the weather allows for it, try an unweighted bait too.


If you are targeting the FADs, make sure you don’t motor right up to them. Try being as stealthy as possible to avoid spooking the fish.

Try using some very small skirted lures if you’re not getting any action on the bigger ones, you need to try match the hatch and often a small lure can catch the biggest fish.

Use quality hooks, especially when it comes to ganged hooks. These fish pull hard and will straighten most cheap, low quality hooks.

Mahi Mahi are also known to be the most exciting fish to catch, but watch out when you bring them on board. They often go crazy on the deck and throw hooks around. A good trick is to tie the leader around their tails and bend them into a banana while the hook is still in their mouth. This will stop them from moving and allow you to dispatch them safely.

We’ve posted some links to eBay with some recommended lures to try:

Richter Lures 8″ UV Soft Grassy UV SKIRT on eBay

Pakula Micro Sprocket Paua Jet on eBay

Black Bart Mahi Candy on eBay

and if you want to get a hook rig that’s pretty much ready to go, try the Richter Complete Single 8/0 Hook with wire and 200lb leader line on eBay. The wire is handy in case a Wahoo takes some interest or you even raise a billfish.

Also, in case the fish are on the smaller size or aren’t interested in your lures, try downsizing. The Jelly Babe’s are a favorite and are great for tuna too.

RICHTER Jellybabe Lures on eBay

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