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PLEASE HELP: How much line do I need for offshore trolling?

SWFLfisherman13SWFLfisherman13 SWFLPosts: 9 Deckhand
Hi all,

So my buddy just got a new offshore boat and we made an agreement that I would supply the fishing gear and he would handle everything boat related. I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a cane pole, so I’m pretty knowledgeable about land-based fishing. However, offshore fishing feels like a completely different world to me. I have a pretty good handle on what to use, how to use it, etc., but I’m completely stumped on how much line I should have on my reels. My first thought was that having a huge amount of line (750 yards+) like I need for shark fishing from the beach was not necessary, but then I read how some of the pelagics can go on blistering runs peeling off 300-400 yards of line before you even pick up the rod, and now I’m completely lost. So my question is, how much line do I need? When I say “need,” I don’t mean the minimum, I mean how much do I need to feel comfortable that I will be able to handle just about everything we will encounter (there is nothing worse than losing the fish of a lifetime because you were unprepared IMO). We will be fishing primarily off the coast of South FL, the Keys, and Southwest FL.

Here is what I was planning to get, please let me know what you guys think:

Penn Squall 50vsw on a 6’ extra heavy bent butt rod spooled with 800-1,000 yards of 100-130 lb. braid and then a top shot of 200-300 lb. mono. My thinking is that this would be the setup used for heavy baits, trolling weights, etc.

Penn Squall 30vsw on a 6’ stand-up rod spooled with 800-1,000 yards of 80 lb. braid with a top shot of 200-300 lb. mono. I would have 2 of this particular setup to complete the 3 rod spread.

Any advice is GREATLY APPRECIATED!

Thank you in advance and tight lines!

Replies

  • Russ57Russ57 FloridaPosts: 45 Deckhand
    I would not go that heavy/big.  Unless you guys are trolling strictly for big marlin and such that is.  Being new to the game I doubt that and we don't have many around here.

    First, I'd pick a capable bottom reel that could be used for trolling.  You are in an area that holds nice grouper and snapper.  There are many, but the Penn Baja Special/US 113 Senator is a good rugged choice.  I'd load it up with 40-50# mono for bottom fishing.  They actually cast well but require some practice.

    Next I'd pick a decent quality lever drag reel in the 3/0 to 4/0 size.  I use an Avet LX with a 7' 20-40# rated live bait blank.  I use 30# mono and wouldn't ever use braid for trolling.  I'd consider it dangerous.  Truth is you don't get many fish over a 100# and most are less than half that.  Most of our fish run sideways so you can always follow them if you must.

    I would add two spinning reels to the mix.  Say a Shimano size 4000 and 8000.  They will cover you from bait/small snapper to sight casting for dolphin and sailfish.  It is best to get extra spools and load one with mono and one with braid.  That way you can cover a lot of ground.

    Save the bigger reels for swordfishing.....or big tuna if you guys head to other waters.  Down here it is mostly dolphin/kingfish/blackfin/wahoo/sailfish.


  • GarysmoGarysmo Ft. Pierce, FloridaPosts: 1,596 Captain
    When trolling for dolphin, kings, black fin and sails I use TLD 25s.  Traditionally I've spooled them with 30# mono.  I think I get 400-500 yards.  This has been plenty for normal trolling 7-8mph.  This setup has worked fine for dolphin, kings, BFT and sailfish.  Recently I've started to tweak it a bit with putting 300-400 yards of braid and then filling with mono.  I started this on some so I can put some lines way out...it's helped my sailfish and BFT hit rates.

    IMO you don't need a 1000yards for normal 7-8 mph trolling.  

    That being said, high speed trolling is another issue.  Here you need some capacity.  However, I'm not sure you need to be looking at 1200+ yards of total line.  I know a lot of guys put 600 yards of 130# hollow core and then 200-300 yards of mono...obviously it depends on the line capacity of your specific reels.  
  • BryanCBryanC Posts: 644 Officer
    I also use TLD 25s for general trolling (dolphin is the main target) in FL.  I use 40 lb mono on them.  According to the specs they hold 450 yds of 40 lb mono.  I'm not sure how accurate that is.  I've never come close to getting spooled.
  • tankeredtankered Gainesvill, FlPosts: 932 Officer

    All the above posts are good advice.

    No need for any of that big stuff just yet, first target the smaller more common species.

  • demersalangelerdemersalangeler SE FLORIDA Posts: 437 Deckhand
     My question is what species do you plan on targeting & how?

     Chances are you will be just fine with 300-500 yards of 30LB under normal trolling circumstances. This will cover most of your bait/lure cenarios. As well as most bottom fishing.

     If you're high speed trolling for wahoo at 20mph you will want a 50/80 with 80-150 LB braid, 500+ yards of line, and 100-250LB shock cord/wind on. 

     If you're pulling BIG planers the above set up will pull them with authority. 


     Here's what comes with me on a normal trip out of SE FL. (There may be multiples depending on the trip.)

     × spinning reel with 300 yds of 15lb mono. (Bait, Dolphin pitch rod, Yellow tail.)
     
     × spinning reel with 450 yds of 30 lb braid. (Dolphin pitch rod, surface casting lures, king fish.)

     × conventional reel 450 yds of 25 mono. (Dolphin trolling, spooling for mutton, kings.)

     × penn 70VS spooled with 1500 yds of 150 braid. (High speed trolling, BIG planers, pesky shark/ goliath rod.)

     + I have a myriad of supplemental rod's depending on the trips target species. (smaller spinners, slow pitch jigging, deep drop, deep water bottom fishing, exetra.)
  • tarpon41tarpon41 Posts: 273 Deckhand
    I don't think you need more than 500 yards braid 50-65 lb test and 60-80 fluro leader/topshot...I cannot imagine winding 300 lb mono on any reel.   My offshore action is now Sea of Cortez but fish are fish...Dolphin, Wahoo, Pacific Sails, Striped Marlin, Blue and Black Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna.  I fish out of a 25' Panga with Mexican Captain.  My reels are Seigler SGN, SG, and LGN, and a Mak 15(okuma makaira) got it on sale 399.plus 300 yds 60 Braid included then added 170 yds 65. The Seiglers all are spooled with 50 FINS 40g which FINS states  has a 75lb tensile from 300 yds for the SGN to 475 for the LGN.  No top shot on SGN. SG has 100 feet of 50 Fluro, LGN 50 feet 60 Fluro, Mak 15 50 yds 60 Fluro.  My largest fish on this gear was 175-200 Blue Marlin on the LGN...Wahoo and Dolphin/Dorado(under 50lbs)on the little SGN measured drag full spool strike 8lb all in 15 lb full spool and same for the SG...the Sails and Stripes were caught on the LGN(125-150)..the Mak 15 was a new purchase and was used for Yellowfin to 50-75lbs the two speed low made this old fat man a small Tuna guy...when I used those single speeds even a 25 lb Yellowfin put me down...the shot is the Panga and SGN  port side and LGN center
  • SWFLfisherman13SWFLfisherman13 SWFLPosts: 9 Deckhand
    Thank you all so much for the input thus far!

    We will be targeting primarily mahi, wahoo, kings, tuna, etc. There will definitely be some high-speed trolling as we’ve been watching videos and it looks like a blast!

    I envision a typical trip going something like this: trolling for wahoo in 150’-200’ of water before and a little after first light, then running deeper looking for weed lines to troll.

    So, what I’m trying to accomplish is 3-4 setups that will allow me to do both high-speed trolling and standard trolling as I believe most trips will involve both.

    My gameplan for my spread on high-speed trolling would be a trolling weight and heavy skirt on the 50 wide and bent butt, then a Yo-Zuri Bonita probably on my shotgun, and then a Rapala husky magnum on the 3rd rod.

    For trolling weed lines, probably the Yo-Zuri or Rapala on the bent butt, then skirted ballyhoo on the other 2.

    So if I did the Squall 50 wide with a good amount of heavy line and then 2 smaller reels with lighter line and less capacity, am I on the right track? Or is it a situation where I need to have setups specifically for high-speed trolling and setups specifically for standard trolling? My thinking for the heavy setup is that with a trolling weight and heavy lure, I’m basically starting at a deficit, so I need to compensate for that.

    Sorry for the long post, I just want to make sure I get this right!

  • 2times2times AlvaPosts: 161 Deckhand
    I've personally never found bent butt rods to be comfortable for most of my fishing style.
    I like to fight my fish holding the rod and not in the rod holder.

  • GarysmoGarysmo Ft. Pierce, FloridaPosts: 1,596 Captain
    When I'm going for dolphin, kings ,etc i will sometimes use 1 or 2 50s and put weights, big plugs etc on them.  Then I use my other TLDs for ballyhoo, etc.  I usually have 6 or 7 lines out depending on wind and sea conditions.   
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,119 AG
    Are there seriously enough large dolphin and wahoo running around that 400-500 yds of line is really necessary?   I hook into something large enough i'm worried about being spooled after 150yds i'd probably start running it down with the boat rather than sit there and fight it on the troll. 
    Yesterday's memories are not today's reality
  • DrCokeDrCoke Posts: 177 Deckhand
    I fish out of lake worth inlet and for the most part, I use a TLD 20/25 when strictly trolling. Only fish that came close to dumping the TLD 25 filled with 40lb straight mono was a 50lb wahoo that ate a trolling ballyhoo. Had a large Bonita knock  down the other tld25 same time so it took a while to crank both in. I tried the tiagra 50 for high speed wahoo and after 2 years didn’t find it work the gas money. Hell caught more wahoo trolling a rapala xrap than high speed trolling. Just about every fish off our cost that’s common (dolphin, sailfish, kingfish, black fin tuna, wahoo under 50lbs, Cobia ) can be easily taken by a TLD 20/25. I personally find fishing more enjoyable with lighter setup as it puts more bend in the rod vs horse them in.
  • poncedoradoponcedorado Posts: 484 Deckhand
    Are there seriously enough large dolphin and wahoo running around that 400-500 yds of line is really necessary?   I hook into something large enough i'm worried about being spooled after 150yds i'd probably start running it down with the boat rather than sit there and fight it on the troll. 
    most often, no. Out of a hundred fish, probably only a small handful get farther than 200 yards away unless you like to pull your stuff waaay back. But what the extra line does do for you is give you some extra time to stay in gear for 2nd and 3rd bites and then to clear teasers/other lines before having to turn around and give chase. 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,119 AG
    we troll different on the west coast.   Mostly for Grouper in shallow water.   You have to have 60lb line or you're not going to pull him out of that hole before he gets home.   Probably don't need much more than 200yds and even that's a stretch over here. 
    Yesterday's memories are not today's reality
  • Russ57Russ57 FloridaPosts: 45 Deckhand
    "So, what I’m trying to accomplish is 3-4 setups that will allow me to do both high-speed trolling and standard trolling as I believe most trips will involve both."

    You need to forget that notion right now.  The two rods are worlds apart in these waters.
  • poncedoradoponcedorado Posts: 484 Deckhand
    ^^agree with Russ57 above, but I think OP is on the right track thinking 2 lighter rigs and 1 heavier. My 2 cents would be a pair of TLD25s spooled up with 30 for your standard dolphin/kings/sails trolling ballyhoo or small lures on the surface, and a 50w of your choice spooled with 80lb (which is probably about 500yds so no need to back with braid but could if you prefer) on a stiff sturdy straight butt rod.

     At normal trolling speeds the big rig serves as your planer rod, but also gives you a heavy outfit if you wanted to put out a big marlin lure, toss out a live dolphin or bonito, or put out a single high speed rig on the way in or out. 
  • MissedMissed O-townPosts: 474 Deckhand
    Over the years I've put a lot of thought into what you are asking. 

    I don't fish offshore an awful lot, just enough and have yet to catch a fish that has taken more than 200 yards of line out.  One guy i fish with got cleaned of about 700-800 yards a year or two ago so he stepped up his high speed trolling tackle...  Last year he got broke off on the strike with 65# braid so he went to 100# with 65# backing.

    My stuff is mostly light:
    1. 2 Shimano Charter Special lever drag level wind reels - about 500 yards of 65# braid on there with 25-50 ft of 60# topshot.  I've yet to hook a fish in my life while trolling that this rig cannot land.  Love these things for trolling and snapper fishing.
    2. 2 Shimano Tritons with about 300-400 yards of 50# braid and 50# topshot.  These are my kingfish rigs but catch enough mahi to keep me happy.  I originally got them for sails.
    3. 2 Penn 113h (4/0) and those have 500 yards 100# braid w 80# topshot - double for heavy trolling if necessary.  
    4. I don't care for high speed trolling any more than dragging a cedar plug.

    IF I was gonna do a lot of trolling, the Shimano TLD 25s would be on at least 2 or 4 or 6 rods with a larger reel down center (your high speed rig).  Figure you'll run a spread of up to 7 rods?  Center, 2 corners, short rigger and long rigger?  Or 5 rods, only 1 set off the rigger?

    My cousin runs Penn Internationals - 2 30s and 2 80s.  He calls my trolling rods "pond rods".  I'm gonna get a yellowfin and/or marlin on one of those charter special reels just to have done it.

    I'm also not sold on mono for everything.  Braid is great, stronger, and you put more on a reel.  Put a top shot on there and you have some stretch for the strike, but you can also tailor your rods to have a little more flex to absorb the strike as well.

    Enjoy the new boat!
  • GotseaGotsea Posts: 831 Officer
    I also use LTDs 25 spooled with 30# mono ending on a 15 bimini twist with a 60# ball bearing snap swivel, I use same outfit for regular and fast trolling with same result, thru the years I have been simplifying my set up, I used to have all the gear with all the gadgets available, my philosophy now is that finding the fish is most important. Cheers good luck     
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 9,586 Admiral
    The way fishing has been in South Florida you don’t need any line. Just kidding. As stated before unless you’re high-speed trolling a TLD 20 or 25 with 30 pound test mono is more than you need.

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • bmoodybmoody Posts: 994 Officer
    When I faced outfitting my boat I tried to buy two set ups that could do it all -- TLD25 with after market handles and 600 yards of 65# spectra with 100-150 yard topshots of 30-40# Diamond on 50-80 class mass market rods with roller stripper and tip.  I love these sets ups to this day.  However, they aren't right for anything.  I troll for tuna, dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, and even "marlin" with them.  Most fish can't put a proper bend in the rod, but almost nothing, except operator error, will spool those reels.  In hind sight, I didn't make the best choice.  

    There has been good advice given already.  Advice that actually mirrors my experience too I think.  I suggest avoiding the temptation to try to do it all in one shot.True high speed wahoo trolling requires 50+ pound tackle.  All the rest of what you mention is degraded by tackle that heavy.  Fishing "correct" size tackle is more fun.

    Don't get crap rods.  Get decent 20-40# rated rods.  Put something on the order of TLD20s on them.  Use high quality line rated for 20-30#.  It is a capital cost up front, but using a spectra backing (500-600 yards) and mono top shot (100+ yards) is a good plan, and likely saves money online changes long term.  Four of these will catch most fish you will ever encounter.  Senators have also killed many fish -- 4x 4/0 (113h) filled with 30# mono could do plenty of things.

    If your Keys plans include 12" lures off Woods Wall, then you need 50Ws.  Your high speed wahoo tackle works here too.  Maybe target two 50Ws and four 20-30# set ups?  Ebay and Craig's List could be your friend, but risks are involved.

    Rig your lures with SS hooks.  Again, it is a capital cost up front, but worth it.  Buy quality terminal tackle.  I've tried to save.  It was cheaper along the way, but it has cost me in some moments.
  • SWFLfisherman13SWFLfisherman13 SWFLPosts: 9 Deckhand
    I can’t thank you all enough for all of your advice/input! All of your responses have been extremely helpful and I definitely feel like I have a much better idea of what I need. Buddy and I are in the process of planning a trip, so hopefully I’ll have some pics to share soon. Thanks again and tight lines!
  • ibraribrar BangladeshPosts: 13 Deckhand
    tarpon41 said:
    I don't think you need more than 500 yards braid 50-65 lb test and 60-80 fluro leader/topshot...I cannot imagine winding 300 lb mono on any reel.   My offshore action is now Sea of Cortez but fish are fish...Dolphin, Wahoo, Pacific Sails, Striped Marlin, Blue and Black Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna.  I fish out of a 25' Panga with Mexican Captain.  My reels are Seigler SGN, SG, and LGN, and a Mak 15(okuma makaira) got it on sale 399.plus 300 yds 60 Braid included then added 170 yds 65. The Seiglers all are spooled with 50 FINS 40g which FINS states  has a 75lb tensile from 300 yds for the SGN to 475 for the LGN.  No top shot on SGN. SG has 100 feet of 50 Fluro, LGN 50 feet 60 Fluro, Mak 15 50 yds 60 Fluro.  My largest fish on this gear was 175-200 Blue Marlin on the LGN...Wahoo and Dolphin/Dorado(under 50lbs)on the little SGN measured drag full spool strike 8lb all in 15 lb full spool and same for the SG...the Sails and Stripes were caught on the LGN(125-150)..the Mak 15 was a new purchase and was used for Yellowfin to 50-75lbs the two speed low made this old fat man a small Tuna guy...when I used those single speeds even a 25 lb Yellowfin put me down...the shot is the Panga and SGN  port side and LGN center
    beautiful
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