By Lenny Rudow
No matter where you fish and what you fish for, chances are you employ trolling techniques now and again. The question is, just how good are those techniques? While trolling seems straight- forward – you drag lures or baits behind a moving boat, to make those lures or baits look alive to the local predators – there are
countless details that separate the pros from the amateurs.
Catch My Drift?
While most trollers know enough to find out what speed is appropriate for the
fish they’re targeting, few remember to take the environmental factors that cause
drift into account. Drift is extremely important, especially in saltwater, or rivers
where you may have significant currents to deal with, because it changes the speed
of your lures as they move through the water. If you know basic navigation, you
already know the difference between SOG (speed over ground) and STW (speed
through water). When it comes to trolling, STW is the one you need to worry
about. That’s the speed the fish are concerned with, and it’s the speed that dictates
the action of your lure or bait.
For many trollers, this means using a paddlewheel speedo instead of the GPS to
set their speed when they begin trolling. Bad move. Paddlewheel speedometers are
notoriously unreliable. Something as tiny and common as a little sprig of seaweed
can throw them off, and even the best paddlewheels need constant calibration. How,
Troll, Troll, Troll Your Boat
Trolling is a popular method of fishing for species ranging from walleye to wahoo. But
many anglers could be more successful trollers if they honed their techniques
then, are you supposed to find the best
trolling speed? The answer lies in your
lures. Savvy trollers set the speed that
they think is about right, then hold one
of their offerings over the side and watch
it “swim” through the water. Does that
plastic shad look lifeless? Is its tail gyrating spasmodically? Or does it appear to
swim through the water more or less like
a fish? When it appears to be swimming,
you’ve found the right speed.
Now that you’ve got boat speed set,
we can move on to other topics, right?
Ummm, not so fast. If you can guess why,
give yourself a bonus point. As soon as
you change course, the tide changes, you
enter an area with a different current, or
the wind significantly changes, you’ll be
As with many predator species, whether
or not a tuna strikes often depends on
finding the proper trolling speed. Trolling is
a technique employed for a wide variety of
species, from coast to coast.