Trolling with lures is an exciting and effective technique anglers use to target a wide range of saltwater species. Whether you’re chasing pelagic fish like tuna and mahi-mahi or searching for trophy-sized billfish, trolling with lures allows you to cover large areas of water and entice aggressive strikes. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of trolling with lures, exploring the different types of lures, trolling setups, techniques, and tips to help you maximize your success on the water.

  1. Types of Trolling Lures:
    Trolling lures come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and designs, each tailored to imitate specific baitfish or trigger predatory instincts. Here are some common types of trolling lures:

a) Skirted Lures: Skirted lures, also known as trolling skirts, are versatile lures that consist of a molded head and a colorful, flowing skirt made of synthetic or natural materials. The skirt creates an enticing swimming action, while the head may incorporate features like eyes, rattles, or reflective surfaces. Skirted lures target species like marlin, sailfish, wahoo, and tuna.

b) Soft Plastic Lures: They are popular trolling options for their lifelike action and versatility. They can mimic baitfish, squids, or eels and are often rigged on weighted heads or with skirted rigs. Soft plastic lures are effective for species like striped bass, bluefish, king mackerel, and sailfish.

c) Diving Lures: Diving lures, also called diving plugs or crankbaits, have a buoyant body with a lip that causes them to dive and swim at specific depths. They imitate wounded or fleeing baitfish and are particularly effective for species like tuna, wahoo, kingfish, and dorado.

d) Surface Lures: Surface lures, such as poppers and stickbaits, are designed to create commotion and attract fish feeding near the water’s surface. These lures mimic injured baitfish or create a popping or splashing action, enticing species like tuna, king mackerel, and mahi-mahi.

  1. Trolling Setups and Techniques:
    It’s crucial to have the right setup and employ proper techniques to troll with lures effectively. Here are the key elements to consider:

a) Rod and Reel: Select a sturdy trolling rod with enough backbone to handle the weight and fight off large fish. Match it with a high-quality trolling reel that offers a smooth drag system and a high line capacity to accommodate the demands of saltwater fishing.

b) Line and Leader: Use a high-quality monofilament or braided line with a test strength suitable for your target species. Attach a fluorocarbon leader or wire to prevent fish from biting through the line or leader during strikes.

c) Spreader Bars and Teasers: Spreader bars and teasers are additional attractors that can enhance the effectiveness of trolling with lures. Spreader bars consist of a series of colorful lures or baitfish imitations connected by a central line. Teasers, often made of soft plastic or feathers, create additional commotion and mimic a school of baitfish. These attractors can be trailed behind the boat to increase your chances of attracting fish to your trolling spread.

d) Trolling Speed: The trolling speed varies depending on the target species and the lure used. Generally, trolling speeds range from 4 to 10 knots. Experiment with different speeds until you find the optimal speed that produces the desired lure action and attracts strikes.

e) Trolling Patterns: Create a spread of lures by positioning them at varying distances behind the boat and at different depths. Common trolling patterns include the “V” pattern, where lures are staggered to cover a wider area, or the “shotgun” position, where a lure is positioned farthest back. Varying the lure colors and sizes can help determine which combinations are most effective on a given day.

  1. Tips for Trolling Success:
    To maximize your success when trolling with lures, consider the following tips:

a) Research and Observation: Research the target species and their feeding habits to understand their preferences for lure colors, sizes, and depths. Observe the water conditions, such as temperature breaks, current lines, or bird activity, to identify productive areas.

b) Stay Alert: Keep a close eye on your rod tips for any signs of strikes or irregular movements. Pay attention to bird diving, baitfish activity, or surface disturbances, as these can indicate the presence of feeding fish.

c) Vary Your Spread: Experiment with different lure colors, sizes, and patterns until you find what works best for the prevailing conditions. Some days, fish may prefer larger lures or certain colors over others. Be prepared to adjust and adapt.

d) Maintain Lure Action: Check your lures regularly to ensure they are running true and maintaining their intended action. Replace worn or damaged skirts, hooks, and split rings as necessary.

e) Safety First: Always prioritize safety when trolling with lures. Use outriggers or downriggers to spread your lines and prevent tangles. Keep a safe distance from other boats and obstructions. Always secure lures and other fishing gear properly to avoid accidents.

Trolling with lures opens up a world of possibilities in saltwater fishing. It allows you to cover vast areas of water, entice aggressive strikes, and target a variety of species. By selecting the right lures, employing the proper trolling setups and techniques, and staying observant and adaptable on the water, you can increase your chances of reeling in trophy-sized fish and create unforgettable saltwater fishing memories. So, gear up, get your trolling spread ready, and embark on an exhilarating trolling adventure that may lead you to the catch of a lifetime.