Trolling Tips and Techniques – Gold Coast

Dragging lures around can be very productive, read on for some great trolling tips and techniques:-

Anyone who’s serious about offshore fishing is well aware that trolling for pelagic fish off the coast is one of the great fishing challenges. The open ocean is home to several species of pelagic game fish that any angling enthusiast would be proud to catch for both food and sport. It’s not uncommon to catch Mackerel, Wahoo, Marlin, Tuna, Mahi mahi and Sailfish off the coast of Australia.

Game fishing charter Gold coastWhat sets the trolling technique apart from other fishing techniques is that it is done while the boat is in motion and generally several lines are towed at once. Usually all set up off the stern and sides of the boat so that the lures or bait fish can swim behind.

Whether you’re planning on fishing from a bigger charter fishing boat with multiple trolling outfits or trolling from a smaller open vessel these handy trolling tips and techniques will allow you to get the most out of this method and improve your hook up and catch rates.

Where to troll?

One of the great things about trolling is its versatility. You can troll out in the ocean, in close or out wide depending on the season and target species. There are a few things you’ve got to pay attention to when trying to find a good trolling spot. Number one, getting close to your fish. You can do this by using a depth sounder to find schools of bait fish, looking out for birds diving into the water, or visually by looking for current lines. Look for changes in water temperature and colour. Bait balls up higher in the water column are a great indication that bigger pelagic predators are herding them towards the surface.

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Trolling Tackle and Equipment

Lures and Baits

Selecting the right spread of lures will make a dramatic effect on your hook-up rate. As with most fishing styles, you’ll have to choose between using live bait, dead bait, lures, or a combination of both.

Some of the most productive lures you can use off the Gold coast include skirted lures, hard bodies and metal slugs. Skirted lures are more effective for chasing bigger fish, such as Marlin, and Mahi mahi. While hard bodied offerings are better suited for trolling for species such as Mackerel and wahoo. Likewise chrome slugs are versatile options for spotted mackerel, bonito and tuna.

trolling tips, skirted lures


Trolling reels are a subject of ongoing debate among anglers. Again, targeting bigger fish offshore will require larger more sophisticated and expensive reels. For offshore work overhead lever drag style reels are by far the best. However bigger spin reels will do the job on species like mackerel and bonito. The main downfall of spin reels, is they simply don’t hold enough line. Don’t buy the cheapest reel on the market. It pays to spend a bit more for good quality. Check out the range from manufacturers like Shimano, Penn and Okuma.

trolling gold coastRods

A typical vessel trolling might have anywhere between two and seven rods. Each has its own place on the boat, which is usually in one of the rod holders on the boat’s gunwales. Heavier and stiffer rods in the 6 to 7 foot range, with a bit of flex in the tip, tend to work best if you’re chasing species like marlin and dollies. You will be able to get away with a lighter rod nearshore for school and spotted mackerel. Ensure the rods you buy match the reels and line weight you intend to use. For offshore trolling depending on  the target species you can use 8-37kg gear.

mahi mahiTeasers

Why use teasers at all? You can have the very best lures available (if there is such a thing) and still not be all that productive! Why? If you can’t draw a fish to within the striking range of your lures, you just won’t get a bite. It is actually quite simple. If you can make a predator think that the dinner bell has been rung, you will have a good chance of catching him.

We use teasers to capitalize on this instinct. We want to attract fish by letting them think that there is an available meal that will not take an extreme amount of effort to catch. Teasers come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and configurations. But they all serve the same purpose, to attract fish to the boat and the lures.

trolling teasersOutriggers

Outriggers are basically long poles attached to the sides of the boat. Simple as they are, outriggers serve several purposes, and are an essential part of any offshore sport fishermen’s arsenal.

Firstly, they allow you to have more lures in the water. Secondly, they spread out your lines, drastically reducing the chances of tangles. And finally, outriggers enable you to present your lures in clear blue water, away from the bubbling wash created by the boats propellors.

outriggers, trolling tips and techniques

Trolling Tips and Techniques – Gold Coast Offshore

The most important factors presenting your spread is boat speed and distance between lures. Trolling your lures at the correct speed and in the right positions is crucial to making your presentation look as realistic as possible.

Firstly, the water conditions, wind seas and current. If you’re trolling wide offshore, chances are you’ll have some form of current to contend with. Setting one speed will get you completely different results if you’re trolling down current or up current. You will need to adjust your boat’s RPMs accordingly. The most important factor is getting the lures working correctly and looking as real as possible. Generally speaking between 6-8 knots is a good place to start.

Lures should be presented at different lengths to avoid tangling when you make a turn. when your boat is in motion you will see a line of pressure waves in the wash. It is best to position your skirts on the front of each wave. Tarting at the second or third wave. Pelagics such as marlin, tuna and wahoo will happily strike a lure that’s only a few metres back in the white wash.

trolling for mackerel

Mix it up. Lures, Speed, direction


A common mistake among those who are new to trolling is remaining at the same speed and direction. Trolling your bait along the same straight course at a constant speed and rpm, can and will get you an occasional strike.

Changing speed and course to mix things up will do wonders for your trolling strike rate. Sometimes just half a knot more or less will get the fish on the bite.
If you haven’t had a strike for half hour even with varying speeds. It pays to start swapping lures, try different patterns and colours. There is no exact colour that always works. It tends to vary from day to day. Ideally you want to troll in clean blue water. However fish can still be caught in green and dirty water. Use brighter colours when the water is dirty.

offshore trolling charters gold coastFish on – The Strike and Hook up – Trolling tips

Ideally you want at least two people on board. One to drive the boat and another to keep an eye on the rods and the lure spread. It is possible to troll solo but a second person on board is a great help. In the event you get a multiple hook up it pays to have even more people on board. When the mackerel, Tuna and Wahoo are thick its not uncommon for 5 or 6 rods to get hit at once.

Set the drag

Setting the drag correctly while trolling is the most critical part. You want enough drag to set the hook. Drags that are wound up too tight will result in bust offs. Drags set too loosely wont hook fish.

It is also a good idea to engage the ratchet function on your reel if it has one. (most overheads do). This will assist if you aren’t watching your rods like a hawk. There is no better sound than a big overhead ratchet screaming as a high speed pelagic makes off with your lure.

wahoo trollingIt pays to have someone watching the spread closely at all times. Sometimes fish like marlin will be visible following your lures. Often they will just play with them. In this scenario, if a fish is tailing your lure but not biting, you can try accelerating a little, or have the crew give the reel a couple of quick turns. This will often be enough to induce the fish to take the lure.
When the reel screams it also pays to accelerated for a short distance to assist in setting the hook, particularly with bill fish.

Trolling off the Gold coast can be high adrenalin fun. Both of our boats are available for private charter for game fishing trips during the summer season. For more information please feel free to call our friendly staff on

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Trolling Tips and Techniques – Copyright 2020 – Gold coast fishing charters


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