Trolling speed?

russell kato

"Kamoku"
Jul 24, 2009
1,335
445
Honolulu, HI
Name
russ
Boat
15' Arima - Kamoku
Hey BD'ers,
In an effort to improve and gain more knowledge I wanted to throw this question out and see what has worked best for you. The question: What is the ideal trolling speed? Is there really an ideal trolling speed? I know that the answers can vary from one boat to another, sea conditions, the type of game you are after, etc so I just want to hear what others are doing in different situations/conditions.
For instance, I usually troll at around 7.5 knots on average sea conditions, a little slower if it is windy and rough (6.0- 6.5 knots). If I am going after marlin or Ono I tend to go faster (8-10 knots) and if the game is Aku or Ahi in a porpoise pile, I'll troll a little slower in the pile (5-6 knots), but if the pile is moving I troll fast enough to keep up with the pile. I have also heard that when fishing on the Banks, it is better if you are trolling slower than faster.....anyone heard that before? Thanks for your input!
 
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MANAPUA MAN

Almost A Member
May 10, 2009
249
1
HONOLULU HAWAII
Name
CAPPY
Boat
23' TROPHY W/A "KEKILIA"
I've trolled between 5 and 10 MPH and never hit anything.
Then stopped the boat......
Bang........ Fish were all over the lures.....
 
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Antares

The popcorn police
Jul 3, 2009
1,421
57
San Diego/Maui
Name
Drew
Boat
29'
When i was still fishing Hawaii i would start at 9 knots and depending on water and what lures i was using i would adjust my speed to make the lures work the way i want them to. I have hooked fish at 20 knots but never could get the hooks to stick. At work we move at 12 knots and we catch fish. Fish are fast i don't think they care.
 
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russell kato

"Kamoku"
Jul 24, 2009
1,335
445
Honolulu, HI
Name
russ
Boat
15' Arima - Kamoku
I've trolled between 5 and 10 MPH and never hit anything.
Then stopped the boat......
Bang........ Fish were all over the lures.....

Hey Cappy,
I found that to happen a couple of times ......a few years ago I had stop to change gas tanks(with my old fuel line setup) the outrigger came down and Hanapa'a...mahimahi! Cappy, although a nice bonus, doesn't happen often enough!
 
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Fred Archer

Big Game's the Name
May 16, 2004
1,195
2
Laguna Niguel/Cabo
Name
Captain Fred Archer
Boat
36 Custom (Cabo)
Russ,

Ideal trolling speed is an age-old question, one that is probably influenced more by individual experience than anything else. I, for one, don't believe that there is any such thing in most cases, depending of course, on what kind of lures you are trolling. As you noted, the truth is that pelagics can swim way faster than most troll, especially when they are chasing food, which if the bait see's or senses them coming, and jacks its speed up to the max. In that case, the fastest ones live, and the slowest ones die.

Schools of tuna actually passing my boat, chasing pods of squid (of all things. They can really pick 'em up and put 'em down!) started teaching me that I didn't have to troll slowly to catch fish. I also realized that I could cover more water trolling at faster speeds and the bottom line is, no matter what your trolling, ya gotta find 'em first before ya can catch 'em.

Then high speed wahoo trolling REALLY showed me that it's hard, or maybe impossible to troll too fast. Not only wahoos, but tunas of all kinds and sizes, from tiny footballs to real gorillas, all of the marlins, and all but the smallest mahi's can and do run down lures run at speeds up to twenty knots.

The bottom line is that after seeing this, I wound up trolling faster than most, probably at about ten knots on average, and I wasn't hesitant at all to crank 'em up to fourteen or fifteen if the situation called for that. In fact, there were more than a few days that really burning the lures was the key to a good catch.

Fishing with the kind of lures that I fish with, I am not and was not tethered to that old rule of "troll at the best speeds your lures run at", a good thing when you tend to have the peddle to the metal part of the time and are also slowing down part of the time to let the fish tell you what they really want that day. So I designed and fished with basically straight running lures that ran well at a wide range of speeds and that were easy for the fish to catch.

One consistent thing for me was that I caught more fish trolling at slower speeds, maybe four or five knots, when I was using very small lures. I always figured that was because a lot of the very small bait just can't swim very fast to begin with.

Let me hasten to add, this is my way, and I recognize and respect the fact that others have theirs that work for them. This is especially if they run certain lures only all of the time and have determined what truly are the ideal speeds for those lures and their particular boats.

Finally, there are sea conditions, a factor that none of us has any control over. That sometimes messes up the best laid plans of mice and men...and trollers LOL!
 
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grander007

I Should Upgrade My Account
May 10, 2007
1,866
182
Honolulu
Name
zzzz
Boat
46, Bertram, Deep Blue
great thread...I personally think each boat has an ideal trolling rpm related to a certain speed range (which speed depends on sea state, wind, current etc) - I like 1k rpms, which is usually about 7.5-8.5 knots for us...

tight lines,
 
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tsutomu

Member
Mar 7, 2009
497
1
Aiea, hi
www.tsutomulures.com
Name
garrett
Boat
Anne's Revenge
Hey BD'ers,
In an effort to improve and gain more knowledge I wanted to throw this question out and see what has worked best for you. The question: What is the ideal trolling speed? Is there really an ideal trolling speed? I know that the answers can vary from one boat to another, sea conditions, the type of game you are after, etc so I just want to hear what others are doing in different situations/conditions.
For instance, I usually troll at around 7.5 knots on average sea conditions, a little slower if it is windy and rough (6.0- 6.5 knots). If I am going after marlin or Ono I tend to go faster (8-10 knots) and if the game is Aku or Ahi in a porpoise pile, I'll troll a little slower in the pile (5-6 knots), but if the pile is moving I troll fast enough to keep up with the pile. I have also heard that when fishing on the Banks, it is better if you are trolling slower than faster.....anyone heard that before? Thanks for your input!

In my favorite conditions "flat" I like about 8 knots but most time I just go what ever speed the ocean allows.

Russ,


Ideal trolling speed is an age-old question, one that is probably influenced more by individual experience than anything else. I, for one, don't believe that there is any such thing in most cases, depending of course, on what kind of lures you are trolling. As you noted, the truth is that pelagics can swim way faster than most troll, especially when they are chasing food, which if the bait see's or senses them coming, and jacks its speed up to the max. In that case, the fastest ones live, and the slowest ones die.

Schools of tuna actually passing my boat, chasing pods of squid (of all things. They can really pick 'em up and put 'em down!) started teaching me that I didn't have to troll slowly to catch fish. I also realized that I could cover more water trolling at faster speeds and the bottom line is, no matter what your trolling, ya gotta find 'em first before ya can catch 'em.

Then high speed wahoo trolling REALLY showed me that it's hard, or maybe impossible to troll too fast. Not only wahoos, but tunas of all kinds and sizes, from tiny footballs to real gorillas, all of the marlins, and all but the smallest mahi's can and do run down lures run at speeds up to twenty knots.

The bottom line is that after seeing this, I wound up trolling faster than most, probably at about ten knots on average, and I wasn't hesitant at all to crank 'em up to fourteen or fifteen if the situation called for that. In fact, there were more than a few days that really burning the lures was the key to a good catch.

Fishing with the kind of lures that I fish with, I am not and was not tethered to that old rule of "troll at the best speeds your lures run at", a good thing when you tend to have the peddle to the metal part of the time and are also slowing down part of the time to let the fish tell you what they really want that day. So I designed and fished with basically straight running lures that ran well at a wide range of speeds and that were easy for the fish to catch.

One consistent thing for me was that I caught more fish trolling at slower speeds, maybe four or five knots, when I was using very small lures. I always figured that was because a lot of the very small bait just can't swim very fast to begin with.

Let me hasten to add, this is my way, and I recognize and respect the fact that others have theirs that work for them. This is especially if they run certain lures only all of the time and have determined what truly are the ideal speeds for those lures and their particular boats.

Finally, there are sea conditions, a factor that none of us has any control over. That sometimes messes up the best laid plans of mice and men...and trollers LOL!

Aloha Fred,
do you think that high speed trolling less productive because of the noise and wash an outboard motor makes? Maybe just a excuse I like to lean on but when i fish with people who have diesel engines it seems like a good amount of bites come on corner baits and with outboard boats most bites come on long baits.
 
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molokaipake

Member
May 8, 2008
355
5
Kaunakakai, Molokai, USA
Name
capt clay
Boat
24 foot power catamaran, "Hallelujah Hou", 18 foot Prima Sea flatsboat, "Keu" for flyfishing
One factor not covered in this thread is the kind of fish targeted. Seems Marlin are low frequency fish thus the diesel powered boats may have the edge simply because of the vibrations that they put out versus an outboard powered vessel which puts out more of a higher frequency.

I think we as fishermen limit ourselves as far as what speed to run our boats. If, as Fred stated we had all the same kind of lures out at the same time, we could regulate what speed we should run at. The thing is, a lot of trollers mix up thier pattern with pushers and slant heads , along with some straight runners all at the same time. It would be hard to "push throttle" with some splashy lures flying out of the water at speed, while the straight runners wouldn't make a difference at twenty knots.
As Fred said, fish don't really care what the speed is, as they can generally go way faster than we would normally troll at. The first time that I caught fish at almost twenty knots I was shocked to think that a fish would bite at that speed. It was a total revelation to me.
Guess the whole rule of thumb is, do what works for you. If anything, sometimes try varying your speed just to break things up and see what you can raise, when the speed you're going doesn't produce anything, especially if you see fish breaking surface. Let the fish surprise you and learn from them what speed they like for that outing. Remember the old adage, "If at first you don't suceed, try, try again". It holds true for fishing too.
 
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CMonster01

Almost A Member
Jan 13, 2008
112
0
Honolulu
Name
Clifford
Boat
Big enough to float without it
Kind of subjective. I think it varies with weather, how the wake looks, what is put out and knowing what speeds are currently taking bites. Sorry, not a specific answer, so it may be of little immediate use. However, I start with thinking about what lures to put out in the prevailing weather. What ever else happens I think the lures have to look right when you set them and periodically adjust them. If you have the ability to trim your boat, I think that also helps improve the look of your wake - I believe proper trim and corresponding speed adjustments increase up hill bites in particular on most boats I've fished. I do change things up when I run porpoise piles and the like, but those are more targeted situations.
 
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MANAPUA MAN

Almost A Member
May 10, 2009
249
1
HONOLULU HAWAII
Name
CAPPY
Boat
23' TROPHY W/A "KEKILIA"
My first marlin I caught was a surprise .........
It was getting late out at U bouy......
I brought everything in except a small white squid with #5 double hooks.
I figured fly in as fast as I can and let the bugga fly out of the water, if she does.... "AINOKEA"
Half way in the reel screams.......... My first marlin.... I was stoked.
So....... fast is also a "beautiful thing" if the fish bite.

The name of my boat was "Rippin Lips"

Another time I was out at MM bouy ..... Just me and another boat going round and round..... Nada.
I look outside and I see a glint of something shiney in the water....
Since nothings biting ..... I head out to see what is shining in the water.
As I pull closer I see it's a very large Japan glass ball with the netting still on it.
I bungie cord my steering wheel a make a course so the ball pulls along side..... I walk to the back and lift the thing out of the water..... It's a very large ball with crabs and all kinds of sea life clinging to the Netting.
My boat is still in gear and going forward...... with all my lures spread out back.
I set the Ball on the deck and start chasing crabs and other things out the scuppers......
BAMM Bamm BAMM bamm Bamm ...... All My poles go off......
It's Chinese fire drill, trying to land all 5 poles at once.....
I get three nice size shibis and lose two what'evas.
By this time the other boat is making tracks over to where I'm at, since I drifted into his Maka Range.
I headed back to the barn..... I was a "Happy Cappy"

Today I still have the glass ball..... It apparently is a special ball.
Worth a lot of money.......
From what the experts tell me...... It probably sank a long time ago with heavy netting to extreme depths. The high pressure at those depths forced sea water into the ball..... As the net desolved.... It came floating up to the surface sealing the water in.
I've had the ball since 1986 and it still has the water inside.....
Nice house ornament.... Wife has tried to throw it out many times.
Till she found out what it's worth......
 
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Fred Archer

Big Game's the Name
May 16, 2004
1,195
2
Laguna Niguel/Cabo
Name
Captain Fred Archer
Boat
36 Custom (Cabo)
As always, this is an interesting subject and to me it's even more interesting because of the caliber of the ones doing the posting here - lots of experienced offshore trollers.

A couple of additional points. First, Tsutomu, proximity to the boat when high speed trolling in the fifteen to twenty knot range, one of THE best ways to catch ono anywhere they swim, is pretty much a moot point. Motor type doesn't factor in with this style of fishing. That's because every kind of high speed lure that I know of at least has to be run WAY back, just to keep it in the water. One of the oddities of high speed trolling for wahoo is that the lures catch a lot better if they stay in the water and don't pop and smoke at all, or much. The bottom line there is that anything to do with the type of motor/motors, or even boat, doesn't matter, what with the lures running way the heck back there. We have had just as much success high speeding with both outboards and diesels.

It's just a flat-out great way to catch wahoo and other pelagics. I have to admit, though, that as Cappy Clay and others have said here, that first high speed fish, intentional or by accident, is always a shocker. But if you get over that and try it more often, you will probably fall in love with it because it will put a lot of fish in the boat for you and will find areas with fish in them that you probably would have driven right by.

Of course, you will burn more fuel high speedin', but if you limit the technique to times when you are running anyway, you shouldn't burn more than normal. But when it's working, which is often, I don't mind burning the extra fuel if it's catching lots of fish for me.

And if you subscribe to the theory that the more water you cover, the more likely you are to find fish, high speed trolling is THE champ. As in, if you troll at five knots and compare that to twenty, you will cover four times as much water high speedin' in the same amount of time you would have at five knots! That's not a little more territory, it's a bunch!

Russ,

That stopping or slowing the boat down thing often really produces as well. My winter Cabo pattern was six SuperBars and two ballyhoo on the long riggers. When it came to just trolling, the bars outfished the 'hoos for some reason that I was never able to figure out, but we ran them because of what we called "the soak bites" that happened after we got hooked up on the bars. While we were fighting those fish we left the ballyhoos out there, where they slowly moved along and sank as I moved the boat slowly along. That's when the ballyhoos paid off because we hooked up a lot of "extra" fish that bit them then.

I suspect that most of those fish were actually attracted to the sights and sounds of the fish that we were fighting, came to investigate, and discovered a couple of nice, fat, slow moving ballyhoo to pounce on. This worked a lot for us. So much so that I was willing to invest the money and hassle to bring frozen ballyhoo in from 4,000 miles away! Our most common catches on them were mahi, ono, sails, and marlin - rarely tunas, which were often what we had hooked up on the bars.

There you go, a little more stuff on trolling speeds.

Cover more water...catch more fish. Ya cain't catch 'em where they ain't!
 
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Waiohinu Lawaia

dabuggashakeshakehenohemo
Sep 8, 2004
863
57
Los Angeles, or Big Island
Name
Jason
Boat
Sold it
I think another important point for us is that we will troll faster to locate fish, but then slow down once in em... Doesn't matter if we're lookin for the puka heads, or on the ono lane, or going to/from the bouys... we will usually keep it around 10-12 knots (running a single outboard on an 18'). But once we find the fish/puka heads/bouys we slow down as we don't need to cover more ground, we need to make sure that any bites we get are solid and particularly with the puka heads, that the lures are in the right 'area' of the pod as long as possible...

I think many have touched on the most important point though... What kine lures you stay running? If its all jets, then speed is less important than if you have lures that like to pop and accordingly at high speeds just get straight air born...

I'll never forget my first Ono over 60lbs, was at C bouy letting the jet out, our old outboard was having some problems (ended up blowing the head on the way in) and all of a sudden we went from 0-1 knot to 15+ knots, facken reel jus wen start screaming!!!! Took me almost a decade to get a bigger ono, and I've never seen one close to that size caught out at the bouys since...
 
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