What Is Trolling In Fishing? Explained In Detail!

Trolling in fishing? Curious about this popular technique? Look no further! Trolling in fishing refers to a method where you pull bait or lures through the water while moving your boat. It’s a skillful way to entice fish and increase your chances of a successful catch. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, understanding the ins and outs of trolling is crucial for enhancing your fishing experience. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of trolling, exploring its benefits, techniques, and the variety of fish you can target. So, let’s dive in and unravel the secrets of trolling in fishing!

What is Trolling in Fishing? Explained in Detail!

What is Trolling in Fishing?

Trolling is a popular fishing technique that has been practiced for centuries. It involves dragging a fishing lure or baited hook behind a moving boat, typically at a slow speed. The purpose of trolling is to attract and catch fish that are swimming near the water’s surface or at a specific depth.

Trolling is widely used in both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It is a versatile method that can be adapted to different fishing environments and target species. Anglers use specialized trolling rods and reels designed to handle the demands of this technique.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various aspects of trolling in fishing. From the equipment needed to the different trolling techniques, we will cover everything you need to know to become a successful troll angler. So, grab your fishing gear and let’s dive into the world of trolling!

1. Trolling Equipment

Trolling requires specific equipment designed to withstand the challenges of fishing while the boat is in motion. Here are the essential pieces of equipment you’ll need:

Trolling Rods

Trolling rods are longer and more flexible compared to regular fishing rods. They are built to handle the pressure and resistance encountered when trolling. The ideal trolling rod should have a sturdy construction and be able to withstand the weight and fight of large fish.

Trolling Reels

A trolling reel should have a high line capacity to accommodate the amount of line needed for trolling. Additionally, it should have a smooth drag system to handle the power of big fish. Level wind reels are commonly used for trolling as they evenly distribute the line across the spool.


Downriggers are a crucial piece of equipment when trolling at specific depths. They consist of a spool of heavy-duty wire or cable attached to a weight. The weight is lowered to the desired depth, and the fishing line is attached to the downrigger line. This allows you to control the depth at which your lure or bait is presented.

Trolling Lures and Baits

Choosing the right lures and baits is essential for successful trolling. There is a wide variety of trolling lures available, including spoons, plugs, and soft plastics. These lures are designed to mimic the movement and appearance of baitfish, attracting predatory fish.

2. Trolling Techniques

There are different trolling techniques that anglers can employ based on their target species, fishing location, and personal preference. Here are some popular trolling techniques:


Flatlining involves trolling a lure or bait behind a boat without the use of downriggers or other depth-controlling devices. This technique is commonly used when targeting fish that are actively feeding near the water’s surface, such as trout or salmon.

Lead Core Trolling

Lead core trolling utilizes weighted fishing lines to reach specific depths. The core of the line is made of lead, providing the required weight. By letting out more or less line, anglers can control the depth at which their lures are presented.

Diver Trolling

Diver trolling involves using diving devices, such as planer boards or diving plugs, to reach greater depths. These devices are attached to the fishing line and dive deeper as the boat moves forward. Diver trolling is effective for targeting fish that are holding in deeper waters.

Trolling with Downriggers

As mentioned earlier, downriggers are used to troll at specific depths. By attaching the fishing line to the downrigger line, the angler can control the depth at which the lure is presented. This technique is commonly used when targeting species that are holding at specific depths, such as lake trout or striped bass.

3. Trolling Tips and Tricks

1. Vary Your Speed

Fish have different preferences when it comes to lure speed. Experiment with different trolling speeds to find the optimal speed for the species you are targeting. You can also try speeding up or slowing down periodically to trigger strikes.

2. Pay Attention to Depth

Understanding the depth at which fish are holding is crucial for successful trolling. Use sonar or fish finders to locate underwater structures and baitfish schools. Adjust your trolling depth accordingly to increase your chances of hooking into fish.

3. Use Attractive Colors

Different colors can have varying effects on fish. Bright and fluorescent colors are often effective in attracting fish, especially in murky waters. Experiment with different colors and patterns to find the most productive combinations for your target species.

4. Consider the Weather and Time of Day

Fish behavior can be influenced by weather conditions and the time of day. Pay attention to factors such as water temperature, wind direction, and cloud cover when planning your trolling trips. Overcast days or periods of low light can be particularly productive.

5. Don’t Overlook Structure

Fish often relate to underwater structures such as drop-offs, weed beds, or submerged rocks. Trolling along these structures can increase your chances of encountering fish. Use charts, maps, or GPS devices to identify potential hotspots.

4. Safety Considerations

When engaging in trolling, it’s important to prioritize safety. Here are some essential safety considerations:

Wear Life Jackets

Always wear a properly fitted life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) when trolling. Accidents can happen, and a life jacket can save your life in the event of an emergency.

Check Local Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations of your location. This includes knowing size and bag limits, licensing requirements, and protected species. Adhering to these regulations ensures the sustainability of fisheries.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Weather conditions can change rapidly, affecting water conditions and boat stability. Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for changing conditions. Return to shore if weather conditions deteriorate.

Inspect and Maintain Equipment

Regularly inspect your trolling equipment for any signs of damage or wear. Replace worn-out or damaged components to ensure their reliability. Additionally, perform routine maintenance on your boat and engine to avoid any mechanical failures while on the water.

Trolling is a versatile fishing technique that can be highly effective in attracting and catching fish. Whether you’re targeting trout in a freshwater lake or chasing big game fish in the open ocean, trolling offers an exciting and rewarding experience. By understanding the equipment, techniques, and tips discussed in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your trolling adventures. So, get out on the water and enjoy the thrill of trolling!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is trolling in fishing?

Trolling in fishing refers to a technique where a baited line or lure is drawn through the water behind a moving boat. It is commonly used to attract and catch fish that are near the water’s surface or suspended in the water column. The boat is typically driven at a slow speed, allowing the bait or lure to cover a large area and entice fish to strike. Trolling can be done in both freshwater and saltwater environments and is popular among anglers targeting species such as salmon, trout, walleye, and marlin.

How does trolling in fishing work?

Trolling involves moving a baited line or lure through the water to attract fish. The bait or lure is attached to a fishing line, which is then trailed behind a moving boat. As the boat moves, the bait or lure mimics the movement of a swimming fish, enticing nearby fish to strike. The speed at which the boat is driven, the type of bait or lure used, and the depth at which it is presented can all be adjusted to target specific fish species and fishing conditions.

What equipment is needed for trolling in fishing?

To engage in trolling, you will need a fishing rod and reel, a fishing line, various lures or bait, and a boat. The fishing rod should be sturdy enough to handle the weight of the fish you are targeting, and the reel should have a smooth drag system to help in fighting fish. Additionally, you may choose to use downriggers or planer boards to keep your line at a specific depth or spread them out to cover a larger area. It is important to have appropriate safety gear and follow local fishing regulations.

What are the advantages of trolling in fishing?

Trolling offers several advantages for anglers. Firstly, it allows you to cover a larger area of water compared to other fishing techniques, increasing your chances of encountering fish. It is also an effective method for targeting species that are actively feeding near the water’s surface. Furthermore, trolling helps you present your bait or lure at different depths, enabling you to adapt to changing fish behavior and environmental conditions. Overall, trolling can be a productive and exciting fishing technique.

What types of fish can be caught using trolling?

Trolling can be used to catch a wide range of fish species, both in freshwater and saltwater environments. In freshwater, popular targets for trolling include salmon, trout, muskellunge, pike, and walleye. In saltwater, anglers often troll for species such as marlin, tuna, sailfish, wahoo, and kingfish. Different fish species may have specific preferences regarding bait or lure selection, trolling speed, and depth, so it is beneficial to research the target species and local fishing conditions before your trip.

Can trolling be done from the shore?

Trolling is primarily a technique used from a boat due to the need for moving water. However, in some cases, anglers can adapt trolling methods for shore fishing. This may involve casting a line with a lure or bait, then slowly retrieving it to mimic the movement of a trolling boat. While not as effective or efficient as trolling from a boat, this approach can still attract fish that are close to the shoreline or in shallow water areas.

Final Thoughts

Trolling in fishing is a technique that involves dragging a lure or bait through the water to attract and catch fish. It is an effective method for covering large areas and targeting various species. By carefully controlling the speed and depth of the lure, anglers can entice fish to strike. Trolling can be done from a boat or even from the shoreline. It allows anglers to explore different water depths and patterns to increase their chances of success. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, understanding what trolling in fishing entails can significantly enhance your fishing experience.

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