Piranha need little introduction as they are a popular subject in movies and on TV. Their ferocious reputation is somewhat warranted. They have a nasty set of sharp teeth that can inflict a serious bite, and when they are taken out of the water their eyes often turn red and they sometimes emit a distinct growling sound (I’m totally serious). You have to be very careful when handling them as they will definitely chomp down if a finger or any other part of you gets too close. On the other hand, they often shy away from large animals (such as people) in the water and are a primary prey species of many Amazon fish and animals. When hooked most species of Piranha don’t put up much of a fight at all, although I’ve heard the larger Black Piranha put up a decent fight.
Piranha taste delicious but have a lot of small bones which make them kind of a pain to eat.
Any size tackle should be sufficient as these things don’t really fight too hard. However, make sure you use a wire leader to avoid bite offs. Spinning or baitcasting gear should work fine.
Piranha obviously prefer bait but will hit lures as well. They are not usually specifically targeted by serious sport fishermen, and are generally more of a bycatch when fishing for other species in the Amazon such as the Peacock Bass.
Many lures work well for Piranha, especially if they have some flash. Krocodile spoons are a good choice. If you want to target them for some reason, you generally want to fish a little slower than you would for other Amazon species. A steady retrieve works well. Don’t use soft plastics or bucktail jigs as these will get completely shredded very quickly. Minnow plugs also work well but make sure they have a lot of flash.
If you really want to catch Piranha you should use bait. No need for anything fancy here, just a hook on a wire leader with whatever fresh meat you can find. You can fish with a bobber to help keep the bait off the bottom. While eating lunch in the Amazon I once caught three Piranha on one small fish eye.
Where to get the big ones
Piranha are found throughout the Amazon. The Guyana Shield region is supposed to have some really big ones.
Check out great tips on catching over 70 other species of gamefish, as well as unbiased tackle recommendations and high quality fishing photos at my website: http://www.howtocatchanyfish.com