Barracuda can jump far into the air, run so fast they will burn holes in your skin and pull just as hard as any other fish their size. They hit the fly as hard as a giant trevally (GT), but many do not consider them a gamefish. These fish can be found just about anywhere there is warm water.
These fish can be a nuisance if you are targeting a more popular species. They have a knack for beating tarpon to the fly and then stealing your fly with their sharp teeth teeth after giving you a taste of what they can do. It can be very frustrating watching a 100 pound tarpon swim away as you tie on a fly that you lost from a barracuda. So don’t get mad, get even, you will be glad you did.
The first step to doing this is to put on steel leader. The fish contain 2 rows of razor sharp teeth that they use to kill their prey before they eat it. Their second row of teeth can be found behind their gills. Steel leader can still be shredded by these teeth but it holds up far better. Remember not to use steel leader for any fish that does not need it. The leader can tear up the mouths of tarpon. Use shock tippet instead.
As far as flies are concerned a barracuda will eat just about anything if it is moving fast enough. Poppers can be the most fun because the fish will sometimes leave the water to bite the fly. It will probably be the only time you will have a mid air hook set on a fish. Just keep in mind that these fish are highly aggressive apex predators. You really can not retrieve the fly fast enough. Many anglers like to put the rod under their armpit and use both hands to retrieve the fly. If you do this just make sure to squeeze tight when the fish hits. The best reels for stopping these fish serve as great anchors and will sink very fast if dropped, and there is no warranty for that. Barracuda like to suspend and wait for an unsuspecting baitfish to swim by. This is when they explode with energy. It is just as fun to watch them maul a needle fish as it is to watch them shred your own fly to bits.
The same attributes that make barracuda fun make the fish dangerous. There are stories of anglers pulling up the fly to cast, just to have the barracuda follow it out of the water. Having a silver torpedo lined with razor sharp teeth fly at you is not ideal. Even when landed, a set of long pliers and careful hands is required to remove the fly. If you are not prepared to deal with it, don’t cast at the fish.
While barracuda are often reserved for slow days on the flats, anglers have targeted them with unbelievable results. The all tackle record for the species is held on Kiritimati (Christmas Island) with an 85 pound monster, and the fly fishing record is held in the Seychelles with a 60 pound fish caught on 16 pound test tackle. To put this into perspective, a 10 pound Barracuda will bend your tarpon rod up as much as a jack crevalle of the same size.
Barracuda are not the most beautiful fish that swim on the flats, their nostrils are often seen with parasites crawling around. They make up for this with their fight. These fish bring the full package, from blistering runs up to 40 miles per hour, to jumps 15 feet high. They are Definitely a fish worth targeting at some point in your fishing career, especially when tarpon and GT fishing is slow.