Halibut are the big-game fish species of the North Pacific. We travel great distances, use heavy rods, reliable reels and always go out armed with gaffs and a harpoon. You never know if the next Halibut you hook will be 20 pounds or 200 pounds, so you better be prepared! I’ve put alot of days on the water Halibut fishing in Washington, British Columbia and Alaska and have narrowed down the fishing tackle that I use when chasing these big flat-sided sea monsters. I put together a list of my best Halibut fishing lures, baits and tackle. Hopefully this gear review helps you find a big Halibut this season!
Best Halibut lures and bait: there are some great options out there!
Halibut are constantly feeding and while they tend not to be the pickiest of eaters, you want to make sure you are dropping down a proven lure and bait combo. I gravitate towards soft plastics alot when I’m Halibut fishing, but in some situations metal jigs are my top producers. I’ll share a few of my favorite plastics, metal jigs, and other fishing gear that is essential to catching Halibut.
Soft Plastic Lures for Halibut Fishing
Certain soft plastic lures are very effective for Halibut fishing. I look for a lure that is large enough to catch the attention of a Halibut, comes in one of my can’t-go-wrong colors, and is durable enough to catch multiple fish. Match your lure of choice with some bait and send it down! Here are a few of my favorites…
B2 Squid 8″ lands on the top of my list of best lures for Halibut fishing. I like to use the B2 Halibut Rig, which is a B2 on a 150 pound leader tied with tandem 10/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks. A short 24″ leader snapped onto a spreader bar or slider rig is the setup. Don’t forget to add a little of your preferred bait to the setup too!
Jumbo Hoochie Skirt
Slide a jumbo P-Line Sunrise Squid down your leader to compliment your favorite bait. A white, glow, or other color plastic hoochie squid skirt can add a little action to your presentation and will increase the effectiveness. I prefer the 7.5 or 9 inch skirts.
Pitbull Tackle Twin Tail Grubs
Pitbull Twin Tail Grubs are durable and have a great action in the tail. For deepwater drops, choose the glow, chartreuse or orange. If you are fishing waters shallower than 100′, those colors will work just fine, but so will motor oil, rootbeer and firetiger.
Kalin Big’n Grub
Kalin Big’n Grub is the goliath of Halibut curly tail grubs. This is a 10″ bait with a fat body and a wide tail with maximum movement. Pearl white or glow are my favorites for deep water, but chartreuse and rootbeer are a great choice when fishing shallower than 100′.
P-Line Twin Tail Squid Soft Plastics
Halibut can’t get enough of the P-Line Twin Tail Squid in 7″ and 9″. These can be rigged on a lead bullet jighead or thread down a double hook leader and run behind a slider. White, glow, pink glow and motor oil are some of the best colors.
Pitbull Tackle Killer Jig
Pitbull Tackle Killer Jigs offer a UV White Skirt over a jighead hook, rigged with a twin tail grub. This combination provides mega movement while jigging, available in every good Halibut color, like glow, UV orange, motor oil, rootbeer, firetiger and chartreuse.
My Favorite Metal Jigs for Halibut Fishing
Metal jigs are a great option for Halibut fishing as well. For nearshore areas, I really like the P-Line Hali-Drop and Diamond Jigs. For deepwater Halibut fishing, you can’t find a better lure than a Copper Pipe Jig. Match with a small chunk of your favorite bait, and you have a winning combination.
Copper Pipe Jig
A Halibut with no eyeballs could find a pipe jig. These lures may not look visually alluring, but because the dissimilarity between the lead and copper, these are basically underwater batteries that create an electric pulse that fish sense in their lateral line. The deeper you drop a Copper Pipe Jig, the greater the effectiveness of these lures. A must-have if you are fishing deeper than 200 feet.
Hali-Drop Jigs are a productive choice if you are looking for a jig that can handle fishing in water as deep as 200′. From 9 ounce to 14 ounce, these mid-sized metal jigs come in a white-glow and multiple tiger glow colors that work well.
Don’t let the compact size of the Bora Jig fool you, these heavy metal jigs are designed to torpedo down to the ocean floor and attact big Halibut. Available in up to 16 ounces, these are a popular choice from Southeast Alaska to Washington, Oregon and California. Rigged with some seriously stout hooks and a plastic squid skirt.
Diamond Jigs are the perfect chrome jig for Halibut. This style has become a staple in California for Halibut, but will work all the way up to Alaska.
Best Bait for Halibut
Herring is a West Coast staple for Halibut fishing
Herring is the staple bait for Pacific Halibut. It’s easy to find frozen everywhere, and in some places you can also buy or catch live Herring. Most Halibut fishers will use larger purple label or black label Herring, but on occasion the smaller stuff works really well too! Once we were Halibut fishing in Washington’s Admiralty Inlet and the small 5″ green label Herring caught all three of our Halibut, the larger 8″ black label Herring caught none! You never know!
Halibut love Salmon bellies
Throughout the Salmon fishing season, I make it a point to keep any scrap Salmon bellies and use them for Halibut bait the following season. I consider the belly one of the tastiest parts of the Salmon, and don’t like to waste it on bait, but I do cut out a chunk of belly when I carve out the lower pelvic fins during the fillet process. These make excellent Halibut bait. Many others will cut a small strip of belly during the fillet process and use for bait. Make sure you get a decent strip of skin on your Salmon strip as it will make for a much more durable bait.
Live or frozen Squid makes for a great Halibut bait
Squid is a bait that most of us have easy access to and works really well for catching Halibut. In some regions, catching live squid prior to a Halibut fishing trip is common. Here in Washington State, we tend to buy our squid frozen and it catches plenty of fish for us.
Octopus, not easy to find but Halibut love them
While I’m not a big fan of killing Octopus, they do happen to be a part of a Halibut’s diet. It works really really well as a bait. On one Halibut fishing trip, we caught a big Lingcod that barfed up a partially digested Octopus. The captain was thrilled with the sight and promptly chopped it up and baited everyone’s hooks with it. I could not believe how quickly we filled a boat limit of Halibut! I saw it with my own eyes, even barfed up Octopus makes for a great Halibut bait.
Halibut Fishing Rigging Gear
The wire spreader bar has been a critical piece of Halibut fishing equipment for a long time. Its design keeps your leader and hook setup from tangling with your mainline as you send your gear down to the depths. Snap a short 20″ to 24″ leader to the long arm of the spreader and your sinker to the short arm.
Halibut Weight Slider
This commercial-style Halibut Slider cord is an alternative to using a wire spreader bar and is one that I have used for years. This setup runs inline, with your leader snapped to one end and your mainline to the other. A sliding swivel on the cord is for your sinker. I’ve found this to be really easy to use and store, and tangles are minimal just like a spreader bar. Try one out!
Whether your Halibut fishing spot is in 100′ or 800′, Halibut are found near the bottom. The right sized sinker will get you down to the zone. Most of the time, guys are fishing with either round ball sinkers or square sinkers that are 1 to 3 Pounds.
Heavy Duty Swivels
In my opinion, the fewer knots you have to tie when you are Halibut fishing on the ocean… the better. I tie a heavy swivel to the end of my mainline and snap everything into that. I barely tie one knot on most Halibut fishing trips. Corkscrew swivels are my favorite, as you don’t even have a snap you need to mess with.
Spectra Braided Line
Halibut are usually fished for in deep water and a thin diameter braided spectra mainline will help you get down to the strike zone and allow you to use lighter sinkers. I prefer P-Line TCB, which is teflon coated braid, in 65 pound to 80 pound test. Make sure your reel can hold a full 300 yards of braid, possibly more if you are fishing super deep into the midnight zone.
Heavy Mono Leader Material
I prefer 100 pound to 150 pound leader material for my Halibut fishing leaders. P-Line heavy mono leader coils are my favorite.
Halibut Fishing Hooks
It is completely possible to catch a 200 pound Halibut anywhere along the Pacific Coast. Having a stout hook that you can trust is really important. My preference are Gamakatsu Octopus in 8/0 to 10/0, and if you want an even stronger hook, the Gamakatsu Big River Bait Hook in 8/0 to 12/0 are super sharp and very strong.