This will be in my new article coming out on another site but figured could put some info here...
When bill fishing we tend to use more of natural bait spread. The spread will consist of 6-12 lines in the water depending on condition and targeted species. We will troll split bill ballyhoo, naked ballyhoo, and also some skirted ballyhoo, which we will troll. The decision on the placement of the rigs and lures chosen are at the discretion of the crew and we normally decide once we get to the grounds and see the condition and where our baits will be swimming to best. On rough days you may need some chin weights rigged under the ballyhoo so they swim somewhat deeper and do not come out of the water. If you decide to split bill the ballyhoo to make it swim you can either rig with or without weight. If you troll ballyhoo behind a lure (skirted ballyhoo) it is not always necessary to use weight. Once the spread is set out all lines must be monitored to make sure they are swimming correctly. There are time when you will need to let some line out, or take some line in to make them swim perfect! One thing to keep in mind is the trolling speed and the way the baits swim. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. If you lures are coming out of the water, and your ballyhoo are not swimming right, try to change the speed of your troll until you are happy with the way everything looks. Sometimes the slower trolling it better when your spread consists of mainly natural baits.
When White Marlin fishing there is a normal tendency to troll smaller ballyhoo and smaller baits. To go along with your smaller baits it is usually normal to fish smaller tackle. This is normally a key to success as the white marlin is quite smaller in size then your average blue. You can normally get away with 30lb test and much smaller reels such as 12s-30s when targeting white, and still handle the tuna that come into the spread and also the occasional blue that may come in as well. With trolling for Blue Marlin you will want to sometimes troll bigger baits and a smaller spread consisting of maybe 6 lines and bigger lures. The tackle for this would be much large than the white marlin. You would be using a minimum of 80lb test and much bigger reels such as 50s-130s. The Blue Marlin tends to like lures that create large splashes and smoke/bubble trails, as this will raise the large blues from the deep. You can also run your same ballyhoo setups for the blue marlin and can mix in some others bait including ribbonfish and mackerel. Keep in mind that big baits are okay as they do feed on larger prey such as small yellow fin tuna and skip jacks. Once again you need to do a lot of trial and error to find out what works for your boat, your crew, and most important is your conditions.
Some boats that strictly billfish are turning on to the bait and switch method, which is an entire spread of teasers being pulled behind the boat and pitch baits ready and waiting. We will troll around with all teasers enticing the marlin to come up to the spread and attack. A keen eye is necessary as you must be able to spot the marlin when it comes up behind the boat in the wake. When marlin come up they will attack they bait by bill slapping and injuring their prey. Once the marlin gets ?hot? on a specific lure you will want to bait the marlin closer to the boat and deploy pitch bait that is normally a ballyhoo or smaller mackerel. The marlin follows the teaser up and when the pitch bait goes into the water they see the bait and will switch to the natural bait and disregard the teaser as you pull it out of the water quickly! At the time the marlin picks up the bait you must continue thru the normal process of hooking up and at that time clear lines and get ready for battle! This is a technique that is best to be left to experiences crews, but the only way to get good is to practice, practice, and practice!
As mike stated all the reels are in free spool as you want no tension on the line what so ever!!! We do not even use clickers since we are watching the spread the entire time..
When the fish comes up and smacks the bait leave it be and drop some line.. When the fish picks up the bait and behind to swim away you want to give it 10-20 seconds! As the fish begins to move fast after the 10-20 seconds push the lever drag or drag up to about 4 lbs.. if the line continues go out try about 6-7 lbs of drag.. once that line continues to go ut after that pressure has been applied it is time to point the tip to the fish and slowly push the drag to strike and begin to reel! This will turn the circle hook into the corner of the mouth.
there is no more jerking the rod 50 times to set a hook.. once the line comes tight and the fish is on then you can lift the tip and start fighting!
This post edited by Sportfishingusa 02:06 PM 04/01/2008