There are several tips and strategies to improve your odds when heading offshore for a day of fishing, many of which start before you even leave the dock. The keys are to be prepared for a variety of situations that could arise, be flexible in your presentation of either bait or lures, and pay attention to the smallest details. Here are three points to consider when rigging for a day of trolling bait or lures.
Dark Side Down
When selling skirted lures with a combination of lighter and darker colors, most lure manufacturers and tackle shops will skirt the lure with the lighter color on the bottom. Baitfish that live and swim in the upper part of the water column have lighter colored underbellies to help camouflage them from predators looking up to the surface from deep below. Because pelagic species like marlin, tuna, wahoo and mahimahi see shadows or outlines of baitfish in shades of gray rather than specific colors, try skirting a few lures with the dark side of the skirt down to make it easier for predators to identify the lure in the spread as they come to feed from below. It is no coincidence that top marlin crews use many more dark-colored lures than they do lures constructed with light or brightly colored skirt combinations.
Vary the Size
All species of pelagic predators can get very focused on the size and species of bait available to them at any given time. Educate yourself on the size of the bait that’s most abundant in the waters where you are fishing. It is important to have bait and lures of various sizes rigged; by varying the size of the offerings in your spread, you can figure out what size bait your quarry is feeding on. Simply reducing the size of your bait or lure can entice fish like yellowfin tuna and white marlin to bite both more frequently and more aggressively.
Attention to Detail
Hooks and hook-sets should be checked for a variety of reasons. Even the sharpest J hooks are not always as sharp as they should be right out of the box, and most will even need a quick sharpening. Hooks coming in contact with weeds and other debris, or getting caught on cooler lids or any other equipment on the deck, can bend or break the point of the hook, causing them to be them ineffective. The friction created by the water against the hook when trolling will even decrease its sharpness. Circle hooks should be checked when taken out of the box for points that are bent over or that might have other factory defects. Also, make sure to check that hooks are riding properly in baits or lures, and inspect the leaders for nicks and cuts in monofilament or for sharp bends and kinks in wire. These precautions should be taken every time a lure or bait goes in the water.