A barracuda is what you would get if you crossed an angry snake with a hungry piranha and their offspring swore revenge.

Barracuda - Sphyraena borealis
Barracuda: Sphyraena borealis

Barracudas are as ferocious as they are voracious; they have powerful jaws and hunt by ambush using bursts of speed of up to 30mph, making it one of the fastest and most vicious predators in the water. The barracuda is also a scavenger, so when hunting they are drawn by the sounds of other predator species feeding, and the smell of chum in the water. Finally, and most importantly, their eyesight is terrible, and at close quarters they are easily lured by brilliant colours and bright, shiny objects.

Giant Barracuda
This man is holding a deadly weapon that thinks only about its stomach

Barracudas are mostly loners, but they do strategise. They seek out larger predators knowing they can dart in and out and feed off the scraps in a frenzy without being eaten themselves, but they also lay in wait for tidal opportunities and after gorging have been known to ‘herd’ remaining schools of fish into shallows to save them for later. On this point, it should be recognised that barracuda are ravenous, and thinking only about their stomachs even when they are full. That is their greatest weakness.

Putting yourself near a likely opportunity is the first step to catching a barracuda, then all you have to do is get its attention. Success here comes down to knowing the local waters or having guides that can put you on top of the action.

A classic lure for the barracuda known as a ‘wobbler’ usually has its own distinctive lip to drag it to the correct depth and make it ‘wobble’ in the water, so from a distance it sounds like feeding frenzy the hungry barracuda is missing out on. By the time the barracuda arrives on the scene, all it cares about is shiny bits, and that’s where visual design matters.

Giant barracuda on wobbler lure
A ‘wobbler’ lure shortly before retirement.

Successful barracuda lures use brilliant, reflective paints and polished metals and other reflective materials to make them glint and sparkle as they move. Nothing too expensive mind, as barracudas can and do destroy lures in their mighty jaws.

Barracuda bites lure in half
A barracuda can bite a lure clean in half.

Barracuda will lunge at prey with great speed, so hooking one is less of a problem than reeling one in: the same energy they put into bursts of speed at prey will be fighting against you in random spasms every step of the way until you bring an exhausted predator out of the water.

Barracuda on the hook fighting the line
Barracuda hooked with a lure and fighting the line

Young barracuda is delicious as steak or fillet. Giant species have been implicated in cases of ciguatera food poisoning, but this appears to be a problem particular to the Caribbean, Hawaii, and coastal Central America.

In West Africa, barracuda are routinely smoked for use in soups and sauces and they serve along with other fish as a crucial protein source for this region. Sports fisherman who focus on sustainability will be delighted to know that their catch will not go to waste, even if they do not eat it themselves. You will literally be bringing meat home to a village, like a proper hunter-gatherer.

Giant barracudas
Giant barracuda caught in Guinea Bissau

We have our own boats and crew in Guinea Bissau, where the waters around the Bijagos Islands teem with predator species including Barracuda, Snapper, Shark, Bonefish, Jack, Tarpon, and more.

In this clip, you can see our own expert guides putting Robson Green right where he needs to be to catch a barracuda. Green has a BIG barracuda on the line within 45 seconds, and it’s followed by a bunch of its mates, who are equally keen to jump on hooks.

Predator species are large in number and grow to enormous size in these unique waters, and barracuda are no exception. If you’d like to catch a barracuda you will struggle to lift above your head, Guinea Bissau is the place to be and we encourage you to visit.

A giant barracuda brought ashore in Guinea Bissau, West Africa