Trolling Tips and techniques.
Trolling tips and techniques. Whether your close to the coast line or several miles offshore, trolling is often the most productive method for catching a wide variety of saltwater pelagic gamefish species. Including everything from Bonito, Tuna and Mackerel, right up to blue and Black Marlin, trolling is often the key to a success. Yet, many people don’t use this method either because they have had little or no success in the past, or because they simply don’t know the basic techniques required to catch fish.
For the average offshore angler, trolling can be described as a combination of boredom while waiting for a strike with the occasional few minutes of mayhem and madness when a fish strikes and hooks up.
It really can be very simple if you know the habits of the species you are targeting.
Terminal tackle for trolling
First of all, a heavy mono or wire leader is almost a necessity in the trolling world, the only exception being when species like mackerel are finicky, sometimes no leader is worth the risk. But usually at the expense of a couple of your favourite lures. The wire or mono prevents toothy critters from cutting your line either by bite off or from their strong tail slaps against the line. Five to six feet of wire leader from the hook should be connected to ten feet of double line. Use a Bimini twist, spider hitch or plait knot for a double line and tie that to a strong, snap swivel using a cats paw knot.
Snap swivels to allow rapid change of lures and leaders. More often than not, a good solid fish will put abrasions or a kink in your trace line and the snap swivel allows you to attach another pre-rigged lure on without stopping to tie knots.
It is important that the hook size matches your chosen lure. Small hooks on large lures or baits or large hooks on small baits simply are not effective. Carrying numerous pre-rigged lures with single hooks from 3/0 to 10/0 is recommended for skirted lures. I usually also carry a range of Hard body lures too, normally Halcos, Rapalas and similar patterns, a good stock of replacement treble hooks is hand too, at they tend to get bent and rusty after a little action.
Shallow or Surface Trolling Tips and Techniques
The shallow trolling method refers to the depth of the lure or bait, not the water depth. In blue water, the water can be several hundred metres deep, while your bait or lure is skipping along right on the surface.
This trolling method is used by recreational fisherman and charter boats hunting mainly for Marlin, Sailfish, Mackerel, Wahoo, Mahi mahi and Tuna. All of these pelagic species feed on the numerous schools of bait fish that gather on the surface through the warmer months. Yellowtail, Pilchards, Slimy Mackerel, flying fish, and even schools of small Tuna and bonito run close to the surface and provide an ample food source for these high speed predators.
The natural escape mechanism for these species of baitfish it to swim fast towards the surface and literally skip along out of the water for some distance. Flying fish will go airborne and glide for a hundred metres or more to escape from a hungry predator. You may see them Flying on a windy day and sometimes they even land in your boat!
Your choice of trolled lure needs to imitate the natural bait in the area. when using skirts a slow troll that “skips” the lure out of the surface every few seconds is ideal. Five to seven knots is usually about right, depending on direction and strength of the current, use your tacho to keep the engine and boat speed constant.
When using hard body style lures for toothy critters, speed can be varied from 2 knots to as fast as 11 knots. There’s nothing like the thrill of a reel screaming with a massive Wahoo attached to the other end when trolling at faster speeds.
Trolling with natural fish bait means rigging that bait, and surface trolling is no exception to the rule. Whether live or dead, the hook has to be correctly placed in or alongside the bait in such a way that it will not break loose. Numerous sites on the websites have excellent descriptions and illustrations educating anglers about basic bait rigging techniques.
Marlin and Mahi mahi trolling tips and techniques
Gold coast offshore fisherman, particularly those looking for big billfish, often use artificial lures. Sailfish and Marlin are often attracted to a trolled bait spread by big the use of a bigger artificial lure called a teaser. These come in various shapes and sizes. From paddling bird designs, mirrored boards and daisy chains. Usually the teasers have no hook attached. In a spread of several trolled lures, the fish will usually be attracted to the teaser before striking one of the trolled lures or baits, and those are the ones rigged with super sharp hooks.
One good spread setup when you have a relatively small boat (15 metres or under) utilises a spread of six lures. Some call the spread “two back, two out, and two up.” other refer to it “short corners, long corners, and shot gun”. You can also put a couple more lines down, which means that you have two flat line lures popping well back behind the boat in the shotgun position, two lures popping “out” on outriggers wide of the boat’s propeller and wash path, and two flat line lures riding right in the prop wash. A flat line goes directly from the reel to the bait and does not use an outrigger often a rubber band can be used to keep the lures even flatter.
Sometimes fish will simply follow a lure and refuse to strike it. I’ve been trolling in a following sea and watched marlin swimming in the water occasionally flicking a lure with its bill, following behind the spread. When that happens I will try to entice them a “hot” bait. I increase my speed to make the lures travel faster and pop more wildly.
Often that will encourage the fish to strike. If they continue following, I will slow the speed of the boat and allow the lures to slowly sink a little bit before accelerating again.
Sometimes a strike will occur when the baits are sinking downward. If not, I kick it back into gear and speed up a tad, simulating a bait fish that is trying to escape. At some point in this process, the fish will usually strike. It becomes a matter of determining what the fish will favour most on any given day.
Slow Trolling Tips and Techniques
Trolling slow usually means a using a hard body lure or live bait of some type.
Weather a yellow tail, slimy mackerel or a small bonito a live bait needs to be able to swim a little. That means trolling as slowly as your engine will possibly allow, often moving just enough to keep the bait behind the boat. ideally about 2 knots is great.
Live baits can be trolled on a rod and reel directly behind the boat or you can utilise a downrigger if you have one. A similar leader arrangement is needed, but where the permitted, a treble hook on six inches of wire leader is attached to and dangling behind the main hook. This “stinger” hook is often the hook that pins the fish, since live baits tend to try to escape out of the way of a predator’s attack. That treble catches a lot of big pelagic fish!
Deep Trolling Tips and Techniques
Trolling the depths well under the oceans surface can be achieved in several ways. Some artificial lures, particularly hard bodies, are designed to swim down and run deep – sometimes as deep as 12 metres without the need for weights. lead line, with specialized fishing tackle, can take baits and lures down deeper in the water column, but can be cumbersome. Perhaps the easiest and most common method of getting a bait down to where the fish are prowling is a downrigger.
lead line requires a rod designed to handle lead line, and really can’t be considered an “easy” trolling method. Correct use of leaders, trolling weights, and shock leaders make this style of trolling more hassle than other conventional methods.
Aside from deep running lures, the downrigger is the easiest most efficient way to get a bait or lure down deep in the water column. A downrigger acts like an outrigger, only under the water. This comparison refers to the fact that the fishing line is clipped to the downrigger and that the line is released when a fish strikes giving you a direct line straight to the fish.
Rigged natural baits need to run true – meaning that they should not spin under the water when trolled. Spinning appears unnatural to predators and will actually prevent a wise fish from striking. So, paying particular attention to your trolled bait and the hook placement can mean the difference between getting a hook up or no fish at all.
Give Trolling a Go
Trolling can be as complicated or as easy as you want to make it. Remember these basic trolling tips and techniques, and keep it simple and you will have tangle free fishing success. Trolling covers more fishing ground in a shorter time period than any other fishing method. It also generally means larger faster pelagic fish, so be prepared for reel screaming runs when the fish strike. Put some lines out, set a course, and sit back and relax! Leave the rest to the hungry fish waiting for your lures! Trolling can be awesome fun.
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