What is Papio?

Oh, young papio! If you are a fisherman or local to Hawaii, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. For those that are new to such a word, don’t worry! In the Ultimate Guide to Papio Fish, we’ll be talking about what exactly this fish is, and what you can do with it. Papio, in short, is the young fish of the trevally or jack family. It is predominantly found in Hawaii! In fact, it is a major local dish there. When papio mature, they are able to grow over 100 lbs and are known as ulua.

You can find papio and ulua throughout the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and parts of Africa! Uluas are apex predators, as they feed on fish, crabs, and other types of live prey. 

Since papio fish are very popular, especially in Hawaii, you’ll be able to learn how to catch these types of fish and how to prepare it. Whether you’re along the coast, love salt-water fishing, or crossing this off your Hawaiian bucket list, papio fish is a must eat in your lifetime! Below, we fished in all the tips and tricks for everything you need to know about papio! Are you ready? Let’s dive in! 

The 4 Best Lures for Catching Papio Fish

Rated as one of the best lures in Amazon, these soft grubs are perfect for luring your papio! Each one tastes like an actual worm, so your fish will hold onto the hook longer. ​

In addition, all swim bait have glitter infused to reflect light from all directions to better attract fish. Soft artificial baits are needed to fish for your papio, whether you’re in Hawaii or near any shoreline.

Many reviews say that these are soft and swim well, and work great overall. There are a variety of sizes and colors to choose from, ranging between 20, 40, 50, and 60 pieces! Feel free to experiment with different colors in your area to achieve your goals!

Proudly made in Oahu, these lures are eye-catching and tested for all your papio fishing needs. Their variety of colors are unbeatable, and they are gorgeous for those that love to collect lures! 

These lures range in multiple colors and sizes, coming in a 25 pack! Campania is the king of whipping fishing, as they offer different grubs for your preferences. 

Many fishermen on Youtube and papio fishing blogs recommend campania. Of course, you are guaranteed to get a fresh catch with their soft grubs! Go local, go Hawaii!

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This 50 pack of lures are perfect for catching all sizes of fish. They are 2.76 inches long, and will easily adhere to your hook. Many fans recommend pairing a ⅛ oz jig head with a 2/0 hook. Some fishermen say that certain colors attract more fish, but that is definitely a trial and error to your fishing domain! 

In contrast with other baits, these come on the smaller side and it is recommended to buy multiple packs. Johncoo grubs and bait will get eaten up fast. On the flip-side, they are a great value.

All of these lures are made from environmentally friendly materials, and with the soft plastic, you’ll get more movement in the water. The texture on these fish bat is firm, and fit like a glove on your rigs. Juemenzhe comes in a variety of colors, and in a pack of 10. This is great for salt-water fishing, and you are able to make the most of your fishing trip! Affordable and practical!

About Papio Fishing Rigs

When it comes to fishing for Papio fish, there are three different types of fishing rigs: dunkins, floating, and whipping. Below, we’re going to dive in to each method and how they differ! Each method is perfect for all shoreline fishing to catch all the fish in the sea. 

Dunking: This method is sedentary compared to the other two types of fishing. There is a dunking rig, A.K.A. the 3 way breakaway rig. It also involves any size pole with a line attached to the end. At the end of the line is your baited hook. The other option is using a 3-way swivel with a single line that goes to the sinker, with the other side for your baited hook. This is a popular way to fish alongside the shore!

Whipping: Naturally, this is the most popular form of fishing! For this method of fishing, a whipping rig is required (also called a Carolina rig). It is then cast out from the shoreline and is perfect for medium and top water fishing. A lure with the floater is cast out to sea, and it can be retrieved.

Floating: A set up of a floating fish line will be on the main line, which comes off the reel. The floats are made out of foams, plastics, or corks. When your float is in the water, it should always be pointing straight up. It it appears to be above the water line, the float sits too high. Likewise, if the float line goes below the water, the float sits too low. To troubleshoot these problems, you may want to use a lighter weight or a bigger float.

Best Bait for Catching Papio

Of course, when it comes to fishing for papio, you’re going to want some bait to catch the goods. With the whipping fish method, many fishermen go for spinning tackle. For the bait, everyone loves to fish with whole fish as bait, so you can get many bites and strikes in your line. These baits are used over deep reefs so that the bottom of the line does not snag. Likewise, another good fish to use as bait is a Weke, or goatfish. These are found in the summertime near shallow waters. Specifically for papio, the oama (live juvenile goatfish)  is perfect as a bait! With a heavier line, you can cast this bait out with weight that will sit out, rather than whipping. Lastly, the best color lure to use for baiting fish is black, because it imitates small fish that the papio would typically eat.

If you do choose to use dead bait, keep in mind that they will smell different to the fishes. If your dead bait is properly handled and frozen, the oama will be considered effective.

Another point to keep in mind when fishing is your lures. Baited fishes will move quickly, so a swift lure will imitate your bait. Swimming plugs are great for whipping and tricking lures. Now that you have an idea about the bait used, let’s move further into tips for fishing!

Papio Fishing Tips

If we’re being honest, one of the best places to go papio fishing is in Hawaii! They don’t require any saltwater fishing licenses. Some islands will post signs when fishing is not allowed. Freshwater fishing is prohibited. Overall, there aren’t many restrictions with hook and line release fishing. Just keep in mind that papio is popular to fish for, so there may be certain regulations on how many you can catch per day.

On the day of your fishing trip, it is always wise to walk around the area. You’ll want to look at the movement of the water, as well as find areas where fish are most likely to reside. That way, you are able to create a game plan for the most productive fishing trip!

You also want to match the dominant prey of the papio, so that means being able to pair your baits and presentations accordingly! Change your bait often. Feel free to experiment until you find the perfect match for the perfect catch!

Best Papio Recipes

After a long day of fishing, you’ll probably want some recipes for a delicious and memorable dinner. Since papio are rarely sold in grocery stores, when they are on the dinner table, they are cherished and become a prized dish for all! Here’s some of the top rated recipes to bring flavor to your feast!

Steamed Hawaiian Papio in Ginger Sauce

This a recipe from Hawaiian chef, James Temple. There is something so tasty about fresh ginger bringing some zest to your pallet. It combines soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic to provide that amazing Hawaiian fusion to your table! Imagine the ginger sauce poured over your fish and a bed of rice; it just makes your mouth water at the idea! If you like to watch your carbs, or just don’t feel like eating rice, feel free to serve it next to some roasted vegetables or a salad! Yum yum!


Grilled Hoisin BBQ Papio

If you’ve ever tasted the sweet flavor of hoisin sauce, this is a must try recipe! If you haven’t, hoisin combines fermented soybean paste with garlic, sesame oil, chili, and sweetener to create a sweet and tangy flavor. It is also vegan and vegetarian! Once all the ingredients for the recipe are combined, you can marinate your fish for one hour as suggested, or let the flavors soak in longer. Unleash your creativity for cooking with this unique dish! If you’re ever in Waipahu, Hawaii - this recipe comes from the owner of Poke Stop. The more fish, the merrier! Serve this grilled hoisin BBQ papio with some noodles, rice, or sauteed vegetables.


Steamed Papio Fish

On Hawaii NearShore Fishing, there is a delicious and simple steamed papio recipe. Scott loves to make his fish sashimi style, but if you’re not as daring as he is, this is the recipe to use. The secret to success comes in his sauce, which combines shoyu, ginger, and sugar. Those ingredients mixed with some mirin and honey make something similar to a teriyaki glaze to satisfy all cravings! This is definitely an easy and delicious recipe you should try with all your papio fish!


How to Cook Papio

This is a recipe on how to pan fry some fresh papio - enjoy and get cooking!

Hawaiian Pan Fried Papio:

Prep & Cook Time: ~ 30 minutes


Two to Four 2-5 lb Fillet of Fresh Papio Fish

Oil (Canola, Peanut, Vegetable, Sesame)


Salt and Pepper (or any seasoning you enjoy)

Shoyu Sauce (Optional)

Furikake (Optional)

Sesame Seeds (Optional)

Green Onions (Optional)

  1. Turn pan onto medium-low heat with oil of choice

  2. Season your fish with salt, pepper, or anything you desire

  3. In a separate bowl, filled with flour

  4. Coat your fish in the flour (both sides)

  5. Place your fish in the hot pan

  6. Cook until fish is lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes per side

  7. Flip fish over

  8. Place fish onto clean plate, vegetables, or rice

  9. Season and flavor your fish and rice (with shoyu, sesame seeds, or furikake)

  10. Enjoy!

If you prefer to bake your papio, you can reference to any cooking recipe above for certain sauces or marinades. Here is the basics of baking:

Baked Papio Fish - Cooking Time ~20 minutes

Two to Four 2-5 lbs Fillets Fresh Papio Fish

Sauces and Marinade of Choice (Reference above recipes)

Salt, Pepper

Tin Foil

Baking Sheet/ Any Oven Safe Pan

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit

  2. Create tin foil boxes by folding in corners to hold all your sauces

  3. Place fish fillets in tin foil boxes, place sauce over it, ensuring that it doesn’t drip out

  4. Cover your fish and seal the tin foil. Fold over as needed to prevent steam from escaping

  5. Bake in over for about 20 minutes

  6. Take out fish and let cool

  7. Serve over rice, vegetables, or noodles.

  8. Enjoy!

Whipping for Papio

Finally, after reading about tips, tricks, and recipes, we’re down to how to get whipping!

Things You’ll Need:

Egg Lead/Resin Ball (Used as your weight)

Barrel/ Crane Swivel (Size 3 recommended)

Hooks - The smaller the better (make your hooks match your game)

Lures/Grubs (campania recommended)

Fluorocarbon/Mono-filament Line

Light or Medium Action Rod


  1. You egg lid will be attached to the main line. To prevent it from slipping off, you’ll tie the end with a barrel swivel.

  2. Next, you’ll take your leader line  and attach it to the barrel swivel (use a blood knot, or whichever fishing knot you preferably use!)

  3. The length of your leader should depend on how deep the water is - arms length is great as a standard

  4. Cut off the string

  5. Tie the hook to the other end of your leader line with a blood knot

  6. Trim excess strong at the hook

  7. Take hook and poke through lures, baits, or grubs

  8. Curve your bait down to the tail.

Going out to sea

With a light rig, you will be able to feel the fish that you catch for! Look above for tips and tricks to fishing, and you’re all set to go!

In conclusion, that is everything you need to know about fishing, baiting, and cooking your papio fish! For all our expert anglers, what is your tips and tricks for salt-water fishing? Now that you know tons of knowledge on papio, explore the world and fish for your food! It's an overall amazing experience that you won't forget! 

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Since papio fish are very popular, especially in Hawaii, you’ll be able to learn how to catch these types of fish and how to prepare it. Whether you’re along the coast, love salt-water fishing, or crossing this off your Hawaiian bucket list, papio fish is a must eat in your lifetime! Below, we fished in all the tips and tricks for everything you need to know about papio! #fish #fishes #papio #papiofish #hawaiianfish #fishrecipes #oceanfish #fishing


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