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Trolling Speeds

I was recently asked by Mark what is the correct trolling speed for my Jetski?

To answer the question correctly you would have to ask yourself the following questions-



Is there any current?

Please remember if you are travelling down the current at 4kms and the current is going 4 kms your Lure is not moving!!!! When you are travelling into the current you can go slower and you will get a better action on your Lure


Which direction is the current going?

This is very important to find out! Why? Because the current in relation to the reef or area you are fishing will determine where the fish are lying (More of this on my Jetski course…Yeah I know but I have to live!!!)


Is there swell?

If you are fishing in a large swell your speed will be critical, too slow and you will not have any effect or vibration on your Lure and too fast and your Lure will pop out if the water. (Yes Mark you don’t want your tackle popping out when you are having fun) In a big swell I have caught a lot of fish going into the swell where you will be going slower and stopping more often. Also going down the face of a swell where you will go slow and then really pick up speed.


What fish are you targeting?

This is a question you need to ask yourself when you understand how each species feeds. For example on the backline you fish for Garrick, Snoek, Couta, King Fish. Each one feeds differently and each one takes a certain type of Lure at a certain speed.


If you are out deep and you are targeting Dorado and Sailfish use large plastic Lures or Rapalas and Halcos and pull your tackle quickly (Mark I hear you pull your tackle often????)


What time of year?

Trolling speed various at different times of the year mainly due to the different species available at a particular venue


What time of day?

If it is early or late in the day or an overcast day darker colours work better and Lures with a larger lip seem to work better as the fish will see better and also pick up the vibration with their lateral line. As the day gets lighter and brighter use lighter coloured Lures and fish seem to be attracted to them more. Often they will attack a Lure because it is annoying them a bit like us swatting a fly.


What colour Lure? Colours are experimental but there are definitely some proven winners in certain areas. Some examples are as follows…In the bibbed type Lures like Halcos and Rapalas White with Orange stripes is a winner. Dorado like Yellow or Bright Green or Pink. Wahoo and Couta like Purple or White and Orange. Snoek like Purple or Green. Tuna like Pink, Orange and White, or Sardine colour. King Fish like the neutral brown type colours. Most with the red patch on the front work well.


Sea temperature?

You need to definitely slow your speed down when the water temperature drops as fish become lethargic and are reluctant to chase at high speeds. The opposite in a warm sea with rising temperature…speed up somewhere between 14 and 24kms.


What rod are you using? To exaggerate the problem if you used the largest lure your tackle box with a 8kg test curve rod the tip would pull round and you would not be able to troll the Lure. At the other end of the scale if you had a 15kg test curve rod and tried to pull a small Snoek Lure you would not get the correct action on the rod or the Lure. The idea is that like most types of fishing you need to have balanced tackle. The rod needs to bend slightly when you are at trolling speed and when you are trolling correctly the rod tip will vibrate and drops slowly backwards and forwards. If the rod is the correct test curve when you get a hook up the rod will smoothly pull round and your fish is on.


What line are you using?

Line is also very important because if it is too thick your Lure will not behave correctly and if it is too thin when you get a hook up you will break off.


What size lips on your Trolling Lures?

As a basic rule the larger the lip the deeper the Lure will go and you will get more action on your Lure and the rod will vibrate aggressively. You will be going at slower speeds generally. The smaller the lip the shallower the Lure will go and you can pull the Lure much faster 16-24kms and believe me lots of fish will hit a Lure at that speed.

If I could only take two Lures and fish at one speed what would be the answer? It would be a white Rapala or Halco with a red head and a purple Lure and I would troll at 12kms However let’s go into more detail…..

What am I trolling? Dead baits, live baits, or artificial Lures (Artlure)? I will cover artificials in this article. Artificials include Feathers, Plastics like Halco, Rapala, Strike Pro, Metal Heads Konas etc.. I hope you bought them off me from my new Jetski Fishing online shop by the way!!!! Cant find it? Of course not it’s not finished yet

 Anyway back to the article….Speed is often quoted in knots (knt) I prefer kms I have listed a conversion table below but for simplicity, however just double your figure i.e. 1 knot 2 kms (Are you with me so far Mark? Just let me know if I loose youJ)


What is the weather and sea conditions?

The state of the sea can dramatically affect the performance of your Lures. There’s not much point in pulling a 1 metre diving Lure in a really choppy sea as it would pop out of the water. It would be better to put a deeper diving Lure on and go slower.




Ok there’s lots of questions and lots of answers but also remember to ask yourself why do fish feed or what makes them eat your Lure or bait?



To increase your chances of catching fish here are a few more tips


ü      Try to fish where there is fish….Sounds stupid but do your homework on the shore before you leave

ü      Slow down at times don’t just go the same speed. You will get lots of bites as you slow down

ü      Do turns or figure of 8’s as you slow down or as you pick up speed you will get a bite

ü      Change the angle of your rod. It affects the Lure!

ü      Most of all know your target fish and where and how they feed


Here’s my interesting thought on trolling….

ü      Most people troll parallel to the shoreline.

ü      The currently mainly flows parallel with the shore.

ü      Fish have eyes on the side of their heads so they see better from the side

ü      Is this why you get bites when you turn and go across the current?

ü      It definitely works for Snoek…Try Trolling different directions!!


Anyway for Live bait techniques you will have to come on one of my Jetski  Courses.


Whatever you do go our and try it and maybe try something different. That’s the great thing about fishing….Nobody knows everything…Except me….Tight lines


Converting Knots to kilometres/hr ...













If any person was offended or any of the above material was copyright (hope not because I bloody wrote it) please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

Mick Clarke (Codfather)

 Further article here 

 Why not stay at Codfathers place and do a bit of fishing at Aliwal Shoal  Umkomaas Guest House

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Chom Chom Roller