Trolling: The Art of Moving and Fishing

Trolling: The Art of Moving and Fishing


In the world of fishing, there are many different techniques and methods that anglers utilize to catch their desired fish. One such method that has gained popularity over the years is trolling. Trolling is a fishing technique where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water behind a moving boat.

The art of trolling combines both skill and strategy. It requires an understanding of fish behavior, knowledge of the best equipment and lures to use, and the ability to navigate the waters effectively. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of trolling and delve into the techniques and tips that will help you become a successful angler.

Understanding Trolling:

Trolling is not simply dragging bait behind a moving boat. It is a calculated process that involves positioning lures to travel close to where the fish are feeding. Effective trolling requires the angler to mimic the natural movement of prey and entice the fish to strike.

Trolling can be done in both freshwater and saltwater environments. In freshwater, anglers often target species such as trout, salmon, and walleye, while in saltwater, popular targets include marlin, tuna, and wahoo.

Equipment and Lures:

Having the right equipment is crucial for successful trolling. A sturdy fishing rod and reel combo are essential, as trolling can put a lot of strain on the gear. It is important to choose a rod with enough strength to handle the weight of the lures and the potential fight of the fish you are targeting.

When it comes to lures, there are a variety of options available. Some popular choices include crankbaits, spoons, and soft plastic swimbaits. The selection of lures depends on various factors such as the target species, water conditions, and personal preference. It is advisable to have a range of lures in different colors, sizes, and styles to increase your chances of success.

Finding the Fish:

Before you can effectively troll, it is important to locate the fish. This involves understanding their behavior, knowing their preferred feeding grounds, and recognizing the signs that indicate their presence. Some common indicators of fish activity include birds diving into the water, schools of baitfish jumping or splashing, and fish surface activity.

Fish movement patterns can also provide valuable information. By observing the currents, water temperature, and structure of the area, you can make educated guesses about where the fish are likely to be. It is important to be flexible and adapt your trolling techniques based on the changing conditions.

Trolling Techniques:

There are several trolling techniques that anglers can employ to increase their chances of success. Each technique has its own advantages and is suited for different fishing scenarios. Here are a few popular trolling techniques:

1. Flatlining:

Flatlining is the simplest and most basic trolling technique. It involves trolling a lure directly behind the boat without the use of any additional equipment or weight. This technique works well when targeting shallow-water fish or when fishing in calm conditions.

2. Downrigging:

Downrigging is a technique commonly used in deep-water trolling. It involves using a downrigger, which is a device that allows you to control the depth at which the lure is presented. This technique is effective for targeting fish that reside in deeper waters, as it allows you to precisely control the depth at which your lure is swimming.

3. Planer Board Trolling:

Planer board trolling is a popular technique for covering a large area of water. Planer boards are attached to the fishing line and spread out to the sides of the boat, effectively increasing the fishing zone. This technique is particularly useful when trolling along the edges of weed beds, drop-offs, or other underwater structures.

4. Lead Core Trolling:

Lead core trolling involves using a specialized fishing line that has a lead core woven into it. The lead core adds weight to the line, allowing you to fish at greater depths without the use of additional weights. This technique is especially effective for targeting fish that are holding deeper down in the water column.

5. Trolling with Diving Devices:

Diving devices, such as diving plugs or diving boards, are used in trolling to control the depth at which the lure runs. These devices are designed to dive underwater at specific depths, allowing you to reach fish that are holding deeper down in the water column. By adjusting the length of line and the diving angle, you can control the depth at which the lure is presented.

Tips for Successful Trolling:

1. Experiment with Speed:

The speed at which you troll can greatly impact your success. Different species of fish have different preferred swimming speeds, so it is important to experiment with different trolling speeds to find what works best for your target species. A general rule of thumb is to start with a slow speed and gradually increase it until you find a speed that triggers bites.

2. Vary Your Lure Colors:

Fish can be selective when it comes to lure color. It is always a good idea to have a selection of lures in various colors to see what the fish are responding to on any given day. A general strategy is to use brighter colors on cloudy days or in murky waters and more natural or translucent colors on clear, sunny days.

3. Pay Attention to Details:

Small details can make a big difference when it comes to trolling. Pay attention to factors such as lure action, lure depth, and line visibility. Make adjustments as needed to increase your chances of success. For example, adding a small piece of red tubing to the front of a diving plug can increase its attractiveness to fish.

4. Follow the Birds:

Birds are excellent indicators of fish activity. If you see birds diving into the water or hovering above a specific area, it is a good sign that there are baitfish present, and the predatory fish are not far behind. Trolling near bird activity can greatly increase your chances of hooking into a fish.


Trolling is an art form that requires skill, knowledge, and patience. It is a technique that allows anglers to cover a large area of water and target a variety of fish species. By understanding fish behavior, using the right equipment and lures, and employing effective trolling techniques, anglers can increase their chances of success on the water.

Whether you are trolling in freshwater or saltwater, the principles remain the same. Paying attention to the details, being adaptable, and staying attuned to the environment will set you on the path to becoming a proficient troll angler. So, next time you hit the water, remember the art of trolling and enjoy the thrill of moving and fishing.