People talk about fish that punch above their class, but there’s no species that can compare to cobia when it comes to being shocked by how the fish fights. It’s particularly odd because sometimes cobia allow you to reel them right up to the gaff. Other times, a 40-inch fish can be completely uncontrollable. Because they’re so fierce and so unpredictable, choosing the right cobia gear is critical.
Rods – Regardless as to whether you’ll be casting or chumming, make sure the rod has a lot of backbone in the middle and lower sections. These fish can put their head down and dig, holding position just a foot or two too far away to gaff or net. High-sticking is a danger when you need to force them those last few feet. So, you don’t want a rod that will double over.
Reels – Choose something large enough to handle 40-pound braid, at least. Stay away from level winders unless they’re very high quality, as these fish have enough speed to break the worm gears on some.
Line and Leader – 40 pound is the bare minimum if you have the potential to hook up with any fish of 40 or more inches. Leaders should be fluorocarbon when sight fishing (and it certainly can’t hurt to use fluoro when chumming, too).
Hooks – Thin wire? Hah – these fish will bend that stuff straight on the first run.
Gaffs – They need to be beefy enough to handle tuna. ‘Nuff said.
Nets – Most will get utterly wrecked by decent sized cobia, and few are large enough to land them, anyway. But there are some nets made specifically for cobia. Make sure they have super-thick mesh, because a hot cobia will literally swim through average knotted nylon landing net mesh.
Even if you have all the right gear and you play your cards perfectly, sometimes a cobia will win the fight. But trying to take on these bruisers with sub-par gear? That’s a guaranteed way to end up telling stories about the one that got away.