Avoid These Trolling Mistakes for Fishing Success

Trolling Fishing Mistakes

Trolling is a popular fishing technique that involves dragging bait or lures behind a moving boat in order to attract and catch fish.

When done correctly, trolling can be a highly effective method for catching a wide variety of fish species.

However, there are several common and biggest mistakes that anglers often make when trolling, which can significantly impact their fishing success.

Avoiding these trolling mistakes is crucial for maximizing your chances of catching fish and achieving a successful fishing trip.

So, keep on reading for ensuring a productive trolling experience ...



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Choosing the Right Fishing Speed

Fine-tuning your trolling speed is a critical skill that can greatly improve your fishing outcomes.

The pace of your boat influences how your tackle moves through the water and can affect whether or not you get a bite.

Too fast, and your bait may seem unnatural, causing you to overlook the delicate bites from wary fish. Conversely, too slow a speed might result in your lures sinking too deep or failing to create the necessary movement to draw attention.

One common oversight is neglecting the depth at which fish are feeding. Fish often retreat to cooler, deeper waters when the surface is warm, requiring a slower trolling pace to maintain your bait at the ideal depth without adding excessive weight.

In contrast, faster speeds may be needed in shallower waters to provoke a bite while avoiding snags on the bottom.

Adapting your speed is also essential to ensure your tackle is performing as intended. Each lure is designed to work within a certain speed range, and not operating within this range can make your gear less effective. Paying close attention to the recommendations provided by the lure manufacturers and the specific conditions you are fishing in will help you strike a balance where your lures are most effective and the fish are enticed to bite.

Trolling Fishing Mistakes - Speed Limit

Using the Right Lures and Baits

While adjusting your trolling speed is important, picking the right lures and baits is equally essential for attracting your desired fish.

Different species are attracted to different types of lures or baits, and selecting the wrong one can lead to a disappointing trip with few catches.

For example, shiny and vibrant lures may draw in aggressive fish (like tuna), while more subtle lures could be better for species that prey on small baitfish.

The movement of the lure or bait is often more critical than its color when trolling. You aim to replicate the natural movement of the fish's prey, so you should choose a lure that moves in the water in a convincing manner.

Deep-diving lures are great for reaching fish that stay in deeper waters, while surface lures or poppers are effective for fish that feed closer to the surface.

It's a common error to keep using a preferred lure even when it's not successful. Sentiment should not override practicality.

If the fish aren't biting, it's wise to try something different. Observe what the fish are eating at the time and pick a lure that mimics that prey.

Paying attention to these details can greatly improve your trolling results.

Paying Attention to Line and Leader Length

Mastering the appropriate line and leader length is essential for successful trolling.

When you're fishing, it's imperative to consider how deep your lure is swimming, and adjusting your line length is a fundamental part of this.

For instance, in clear waters, using a longer leader can help avoid fish being deterred by the visibility of your line. On the other hand, in turbid waters or when targeting species that don't tend to avoid lines, using a shorter leader may be sufficient.

A useful tip is to do some research on the fish you're targeting and the depths at which they typically reside. Customize your line and leader lengths based on this information. It's important for the line to be sufficient to reach the targeted depth but not so excessive that it's difficult to handle or prone to tangling.

A frequent oversight is neglecting the role of trolling speed in determining how deep your lure will go. A faster speed often necessitates a longer line to maintain the same depth. To avoid these mistakes, it's important to routinely examine your setup and make modifications when necessary.

This approach will help you save time and improve your chances of catching fish. Keep these pointers in mind for more effective trolling.

Trolling Fishing Mistakes - Line and Leader Length

Trolling in the Right Spots

After fine-tuning your line and leader lengths to ensure your lures reach the perfect depth, the next step is to concentrate on finding the most promising locations for trolling.

Selecting the right spots is essential for a successful outing. Begin by researching areas known to be frequented by the species you're targeting. Seek out underwater features, varying water depths, and confluences of currents, as these locations are often hotspots for fish.

To pinpoint these promising spots, rely on a mix of charts, sonar technology, and advice from local anglers. Take note of the locations where experienced fishers are finding success and the conditions that are present when catches are made.

A common error is to persist in an area that isn't yielding results. If you're not getting any bites, consider moving to a different location. Also, don't ignore the effects of weather and water temperature on fish activity. Opt for areas that suit the preferences of the fish under the current environmental conditions.

Being Mindful of Boat Sway

Boat sway is an aspect that many anglers may not consider, but it plays a crucial role in the success of trolling.

The side-to-side movement caused by wind or water currents can lead to erratic lure behavior that might deter fish rather than attract them. To improve your chances of a catch, it is important to pay attention to the effect your boat's motion has on your trolling strategy.

To reduce the impact of boat sway, a trolling motor is a useful tool for maintaining directional control, and adjusting its speed can help keep your lines straight. It is also important to ensure weight is distributed evenly across your boat to avoid increasing the tendency to sway.

Keep a close eye on weather patterns and water currents, as these elements can shift and require you to adapt your techniques accordingly.

Avoid the pitfall of neglecting to monitor your trolling course after setting it. Don't assume that your initial setup will remain effective. Regularly check and alter your boat's trajectory to maintain an effective trolling path. Not doing so can result in unsuccessful trolling and lost opportunities.

Trolling Fishing Mistakes - Boat Sway


Armed with these insights, you're ready to improve your trolling technique.

Pay attention to your speed, choose the correct lures, measure your lines accurately, locate the productive areas, and maintain control of the steering.

Steer clear of these familiar errors, and soon you'll be sharing tales of your impressive hauls. Hit the water with determination, and watch your trolling skills transition from beginner's chance to expert proficiency. Enjoy your angling adventures!


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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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