Trolling lures and baits, Part II
No matter what form of bait or lure you choose, regardless of how you choose to rig it, your options to run it range from right off the rod tip to outriggers, downriggers, release clips, Roller-Trollers, rubber bands, stingers, kites, balloons, spreader bars, teasers and a few other devices, all with various release mechanisms.
Outriggers have been around since the earliest game fishermen sought a way to spread their offerings, first using gaff poles and then fashioning bamboo poles and clothesline rope into a means to that end.
Modern outriggers, like those made by Rupp, are finely engineered from aircraft aluminum, braced by a series of stays and stainless-steel guy-wires, and rigged with a multitude of halyards.
They provide a variety of options in terms of height, angle and release mechanisms to modern game fishermen.
When deployed, properly mounted outriggers will have their tips near a line that extends across the transom of the boat.
Halyards, generally made of monofilament, run through eye-guides fixed to the outrigger pole at various heights and loop through a base pulley tensioned by an adjustable length of regular or elastic cord attached at the gunwale.
Stinger lines and release mechanisms can also be run from center riggers, which should also line up with the transom edge or simply from high atop a tuna tower.
Snap swivels attach at each end of the halyard to allow for easy mounting and removal of a variety of release mechanisms, including AFTCO Roller-Trollers, Black’s Release Clips, and Rupp’s Zip Clips, NOK-OUTS and KLICKERS. These provide a location to secure tag lines as well.
Tag lines should be long enough to reach from the top of their connection point on the outrigger halyard to the rod tip they will be used for. They are generally rigged with a sliding tag retriever or return mechanism.
Tag lines should be finished at the release end with Dacron line and not have anything heavy on the release end, like clips or other release mechanisms, since these can be thrown back and injure someone when released under tension from the trolling line.
When a bait trolled from an outrigger is taken by a game fish, the release of the line from the outrigger release mechanism creates a momentary lack of tension on the fishing line.
That’s just what you want when fishing natural baits, since it allows the offering to be swallowed and to react as an attacked and perhaps stunned bait fish might.
Most bait fishermen use an additional drop-back of loose line and light drag setting on the reel to further enhance this effect.
Setting up a lure pattern is simple if you follow logical steps. Based on the premise that the boat is the prime attractor, start the spread as close to the end of the prop-wash turbulence as possible, with larger, more aggressive lures placed near the front of the pattern, and smaller, less active lures placed near the back of the pattern.
It is the short corner lure, the one close to the transom, which often draws the monster fish. For that reason, many skippers will spend a great deal of time fine-tuning the action and position of that lure.
Long lures also need careful adjustment. Remember, they generally run optimally down the front face of one of the waves formed in the boat’s wake, shimmying coyly as they seem to surf, but not tripping and tumbling out of the wave face and flopping around radically.
The art of deploying the right lure, bait or teaser in the right place and at the right time is the essence of effective offshore game fishing.