Trolling: The Ultimate Fishing Technique

Studying Time: 11 minutes

Trolling is arguably some of the efficient methods to catch fish. Not solely does it fill the cooler, however it’s equally thrilling for inexperienced persons and consultants alike. Trolling could also be some of the common fishing methods on the market, however there appears to be a perception that it has quite a bit to do with luck. As we speak, you’ll see how good preparation and some tips up your sleeve could make any trolling fishing journey a hit.

What’s trolling?

In a nutshell, trolling is a fishing approach that employs dragging a hooked lure or bait by the water from a shifting boat. You may have any variety of strains within the water, however the precept is identical – you’re alleged to trick the fish to assume that your bait is shifting prey. 

After all, trolling has much more to it than simply dragging a number of strains by the water. Relying on the place you’re fishing – and the species you’re focusing on – you may troll for fish in all kinds of the way. From important fishing gear to selecting your spots and presentation ways, the choices are countless. 

We’re about to cowl all of those elements and way more. By the point you’re accomplished studying, you’ll know every little thing you want to take advantage of out of your subsequent day on the water.

The place to troll?

One of many nice issues about trolling is its versatility. You may troll out within the ocean, on a lake, and even on a river. What issues is that the water is deep sufficient for a ship. Nicely, some fish can be good, too – however extra on that in a bit.

There are two stuff you’ve obtained to concentrate to when looking for trolling spot. Primary, getting near your fish. You are able to do this by both utilizing a sonar to search out education baitfish, looking for birds swooping into the water, or monitoring down floating weed strains.

Birds are a wonderful indicator that fish are close to

Quantity two, hitting the fitting depth. There are a number of tips you need to use to decrease your baits to precisely the place the fish are. To do that, you’ll want a number of items of kit. Some are fancier than others, however all of them get the job accomplished. 

We’ll get to trolling tools in a minute. Earlier than we do, let’s see what fish you may hope to catch with this method.

Frequent Catches

As we talked about, you may troll for fish in a wide range of waters. It is smart, then, that the listing of species you may catch is a reasonably lengthy one. To be sincere, it’s extra like a e-book than an inventory, however that’s what you get with a fishing approach as efficient as this one. To provide you a glimpse of what you may count on, we’ll cowl a number of signature species for every kind of water you may fish in.

Freshwater trolling can land you a variety of Salmon and Trout species, in addition to Bass, Walleye, or Sturgeon. In saltwater, the nearshore trolling staples are Kingfish, Wahoo, and Barracuda. After which offshore, you’ll find thrilling massive recreation species like Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Sailfish, and Marlin. With A-listers like these, it’s simple to see why so many bucket listing reminiscences have been made exactly on trolling journeys.

Alright, that’s all effectively and good, however how do you go about catching one among these fish? Nicely, first, you want to gear-up.

Important Gear

Whether or not you’re chasing giants offshore, or fishing on a lake, there are a number of objects you need to all the time have in your trolling arsenal. High quality rods, reels, and deal with are primary, and can go a great distance in getting your fish onboard. After which there are the riggers, which you need to use to put your bait on the proper depths. Let’s cowl every of those, one after the other.


A typical trolling boat can have anyplace between two and 6 rods. Every has its personal place on the boat, which is normally in one of many rod holders on the boat’s gunwales.

Nothing beats the fun of heading offshore on opening morning.

For inshore or freshwater trolling, you may get by with just about any kind of fairly stiff rod. In terms of offshore fishing, nonetheless, your gear will must be a bit of extra specialised. 

Heavier and stiffer rods within the 6 ½ to 7 ½ foot vary are likely to work finest when you’re going for giant fish. You may have the ability to get away with a lighter rod nearshore, however a heavier one will deal with fish hitting and darting within the different path way more simply. 

Trendy offshore trolling rods normally include add-ons known as “guides.” The aim of those is to primarily create much less friction on the road when the rod is bending. Two frequent sorts of rod guides are curler guides and turbo guides. Each work effectively, however curler guides are likely to work higher for greater fish. Turbo guides, then again, are a lot lighter, making the rods simpler to deal with.


Trolling reels are a subject of countless debate amongst anglers. Once more, focusing on greater fish offshore will usually require extra subtle reels. Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply that you need to get any outdated reel when you’re fishing in freshwater.

In case you’re questioning whether or not to go along with a traditional or spinning reel, the reply is straightforward. Typical reels usually offer you much more line to work with, which is essential when trolling. However that’s not all there’s to it.

These days, many anglers use line-counting reels. This manner, they will get rid of a lot of the guesswork, and replicate their presentation repeatedly. There are numerous line-counting reel variations on the market, even electrical ones with LCD screens. However most anglers will argue that that’s overkill.

For battling species like Tuna, two-speed reels are a life-saver. With a single click on, you’re in a position to change to a quicker, line-gulping pace, which is invaluable when making an attempt to work towards a fish racing in direction of you. One other benefit is that you just’re in a position to get extra pulling energy when battling a behemoth that simply took a nose-dive.

In case you’re shopping for your first trolling reel, you don’t must lay our a fortune. Simply ensure it could possibly get the fish you need. And be sure you get “clicker.” A clicker is what makes that heart-jolting sound when the chew is on. That is the one sound you don’t wish to miss, so ensure your trolling reel has one!


As you might need guessed, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer with regards to trolling strains. Most anglers will agree {that a} monofilament is an effective choice when trolling at greater speeds. The stretch capability of the mono will give it superior shock absorption, which is usually a lifesaver when going after massive recreation.

On the flip aspect, braided strains are a lot stronger, and so they usually boast a smaller diameter. This lets you reliably troll your baits at a a lot better distance. A braided line can also be a lot much less buoyant than a mono, so when you’re trolling at better depths, that is most likely the way in which to go. 

To be taught extra concerning the several types of fishing line, try our in-depth information.


The beauty of trolling is that it permits you to cowl extra floor than another fishing approach. You may plow by a formidable quantity of water with only a single line out. However when you actually need a constant chew, you’re going to need much more than only one line. That’s the place riggers are available.


Outriggers are nothing greater than lengthy poles fitted to the perimeters of the boat. Easy as they’re, outriggers serve a number of functions, and are a necessary a part of any offshore troller’s arsenal. 

Primary, they will let you have extra strains within the water. Quantity two, they unfold out your strains, drastically lowering the chances of a tangle. And quantity three, outriggers allow you to current your bait in clear water, away from the effervescent spray created by the engine.

When an outrigger produces successful, the road is launched by a clip, permitting you to battle the fish together with your rod.


Much like outriggers, downriggers are gadgets you need to use to unfold out your baits. The aim of a downrigger is to decrease your bait deeper underwater, utilizing a heavy weight. Very similar to on an outrigger, the road is linked to the burden with a clip. As soon as the fish bites, the clip detaches, leaving you head to head with the fish.

Downriggers are specialised contraptions, utilized by anglers in freshwater and at sea. They’re costly, however they positively get the job accomplished.

Planer Boards

A less expensive various to downriggers, planer boards are one other device you need to use to unfold and decrease your trolling baits. In essence, these are small, floating gadgets, by which a fishing line passes in a downward path. 

You should utilize anyplace from two to 6 at a time, however on this case, it’s “the extra the merrier.” Utilizing extra boards doesn’t simply will let you cowl extra floor, it additionally offers you a greater thought of whether or not one’s lagging behind. If this occurs, it most likely means it’s time to seize the rod and battle.

One other beauty of planer boards is that they will actually let you know if you get a chew. How? By attaching the road to a spring mechanism that’s linked to a bright-colored flag. As quickly because the fish bites, the flag begins to go down, signaling a strike. Many planer boards even will let you regulate the sensitivity of the spring to match the pulling energy of varied fish. Fairly cool.

Lures and Baits

Choosing the proper presentation will make a dramatic impact in your trolling hook-up charge. As with most fishing displays, you’ll have to decide on between utilizing stay bait, lifeless bait, lures, or a mix of lures and bait.

Small Tuna are an amazing bait when trolling for giant recreation

In shallow water, the place trolling boats usually transfer at a slower pace, lures can replicate the identical depth with exceptional precision. Right here, the fitting lure is not going to solely imitate a dwelling fish, however it’s going to additionally make it easier to hit the precise depth you want to acquire the eye of the predator you’re after.  

Among the lures you need to use are skirted lures, spoons, plugs, and delicate plastics. Skirted lures are simpler for chasing greater fish, whereas delicate plastics are higher fitted to trolling for smaller recreation. Spoons and plugs are versatile choices, and so they fall someplace within the center.

For saltwater trolling, squid, ballyhoo, mullet, and mackerel are go-to baits for many anglers. These will will let you chase an assortment of pelagic species. True jacks-of-all-trades within the stay bait world, these will get you something from Barracuda and Mahi Mahi to Wahoo and Tuna. If you wish to discover ways to catch your stay bait, try our full information.

Offshore fishermen typically like to mix reduce bait and skirted lures when trolling for giant recreation. It is because the skirt, normally a brightly coloured tail, can entice predators from very distant. As soon as they’re shut, they’ll probably swoop in to chew the reduce bait. From then, it’s recreation on.

Skirted lures are very efficient when trolling for greater fish

Learn how to Troll?

What’s crucial factor when presenting your bait? Ask any trolling angler, and also you’ll get the identical reply: pace. Trolling your bait on the proper pace is essential to creating your presentation look real looking. Factor is, there’s no precise blueprint for the precise pace you want to attain to get a hook-up.

Theoretically, you wish to match the pace of your baits with the pace of the fish you’re after. The factor is, taking a look at some random pace chart and setting your pace to match it solely works to a sure extent. The explanations for this are twofold. 

First, the water circumstances. In case you’re trolling in a river, or out within the sea, chances are high you’ll have some type of present to take care of. Setting one pace will get you utterly totally different outcomes when you’re shifting downcurrent or upcurrent. You’ll wish to regulate your boat’s RPMs accordingly. Which that brings us to the second cause.

Predator fish don’t actually test their speedometers when chasing prey. All they care about is whether or not the factor they’re chasing seems to be like a dwelling creature. And that’s what you need to care about, too. So subsequent time you set your pace, check out your closest lure or bait. If it’s spinning uncontrolled, you most likely wish to dial it down a bit. When you see the lure or bait swimming naturally, you’ll know you’ve hit the fitting pace.

Swap it Up

One frequent mistake amongst rookie anglers is staying married to a sure pace and path. Transferring your bait alongside a straight line at a relentless pace can and can get you an occasional chew. However ask your self, is that this actually how fish transfer in actual life?

You already know the reply, and also you most likely know the answer, too. 

Altering instructions to combine issues up will do wonders on your trolling success, and right here’s why. As you “flip the nook”, your baits will unfold out. Concurrently, this can pace up baits on one aspect of the boat, and produce them up nearer to the floor. The baits on the opposite aspect will do the alternative, supplying you with good selection in depth and pace, in addition to a sensible change of path.

After all, when you’re trolling round construction and also you wish to counter your lure’s upward movement, all you want to do is place a decrease using lure in your outer rig. That approach, you’ll maintain the outer lure on the similar depth, growing your odds for a hook-up.

Guidelines of Thumb

Most saltwater fishermen wish to troll at speeds between 2 and 9 knots. Speeds within the 7-9 knot vary will serve you effectively when focusing on Marlin or different Billfish. Wahoo, who’re identified for his or her bursts of pace, are sometimes caught when trolling round 10-12 knots. If you wish to catch Tuna, all of it is determined by the species, however 4-6 knots tends to work finest.

Trolling at round 7-9 knots works effectively when focusing on Marlin

These are all ballpark numbers and may be influenced by a variety of different elements. Listed here are some helpful trolling pace suggestions you may observe:

  • In case you’re trolling stay baits solely, you’ll wish to go slower in order that your baitfish can have an opportunity to swim naturally. 
  • When the seas are tough, drop your baits additional out and go slower. This may permit them to succeed in clearer waters.
  • Watch your wake. In case you go too quick, you may create an excessive amount of white water, which decreases visibility, and disrupts the motion of your bait. Inboard motors are likely to create much less white water than outboard motors, which lets you go a bit quicker.

The Final Fishing Approach

Trolling is, with out query, among the finest methods an angler can attempt. Lethal efficient and extremely enjoyable, this is likely one of the most addictive methods to catch fish. Now that you understand how to troll for fish, you’ve gotten all of the instruments for a memorable outing on the water.

And now, let’s hear from you. Do you’ve gotten any trolling ways you’d wish to share? What’s your favourite fishing approach? Tell us within the feedback under.