Troll 'em Up


Words by: Ricky Fischel | Photos: Ira Waldman

As the Bluefin fishery continues to evolve off the coast of Northern Baja and Southern California, the techniques and gear we use to chase after these trophy fish are simultaneously developing. Almost a decade ago, we were immersed in the “Popper” fad, where anglers would head offshore and target 150+ pound fish with 9-foot rods and single speed casting reels. We then entered the realm of the “Yummy Flyer,” a plastic flying fish imitation fished from a kite. Eventually, we were lucky enough to have a large enough biomass of fish that we altered our go-to technique yet again and began fishing with frozen flying fish from a kite that fishermen attempt to set up directly on top of visible spots of foaming or breezing fish. 

While these techniques are all still wildly effective under the right conditions and utilized by almost every angler up and down the coastline, over the past two years, we have discovered yet another extremely effective technique to garner a bite from the often times wily Bluefin Tuna – trolling. First, it was the spreader bar, a long-time producer on the east coast fishery that was quickly adopted by west coast anglers, and then came the high-speed trolling lures. Each will catch fish, but we frequently find that by trolling at high speeds, we are able to elicit a bite from these fish even if they are in a lazy and relatively “non-biting” mood. 

Now, when we’re talking about high-speed trolling, we mean HIGH speed trolling. You’d think that boats around the SoCal Bight are targeting wahoo, but that’s not the case. We’ll drag these lures at anywhere from 8-14 knots, sometimes even faster. 

It’s not easy to find a trolling lure that is able to run true out of the box at this speed, but with that in mind, Rapala was able to develop and engineer a lipped trolling lure that possesses the ability to be trolled at these high speeds. Already proven in countries like Australia as a tuna producing machine, the X-Rap Magnum Xtreme 160 is now available in the US. This lure will run true at over 15 knots, allowing you to cover vast amounts of water in your search for that big bite and trophy fish. 

While not always the case, we’ll sometimes find ourselves offshore staring at fish on the surface and on the meter for hours without being able to hook a single one. We all know how frustrating this can be, and there’s nobody out there who wouldn’t be scratching their head trying to figure out what to tie on next. What we’ve found is that more often than not, these high-speed trolling lures are able to induce a reaction bite from these highly predatory and powerful fish. 

With that being said, this lure will also run with phenomenal action being trolled at slower, more conventional trolling speeds. The engineering and shape of the lure incorporate sleek flat sides that create a tight rolling action, while the tail keel adds stability to the jig at all speeds. This makes it a weapon for not only Bluefin tuna but also for other offshore and inshore pelagics such as yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, bonito, barracuda, and bass. 

The X-Rap Magnum Xtreme is not only a great option for offshore species such as Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, but also serves as an extremely effective trolling lure for the aggressive and hard pulling Yellowtail along our coastline and offshore islands.

This SoCal Bluefin fell for the HD Bonito pattern Magnum Xtreme. We wrapped a large breezer school of 40-60 pound bluefin trolling at about 12 knots and as soon as our lures hit the edge of the school, the reel started screaming as this fish ate the bait.

The Rapala X-Rap Magnum Xtreme is available in 13 different color patters. It runs at a depth of about 8 feet and will troll true at speeds exceeding 15 knots.

SoCal and Baja anglers have long known how effective Rapala’s saltwater trolling lures are within our inshore fishery. Many people have experienced limit-style fishing and caught personal best yellowtail on Rapala’s X-Rap Magnum saltwater trolling lures. These will always have their place in our tackle boxes, but now they will sit alongside their counterpart, the X-Rap Magnum Xtreme. 

Whether you plan to utilize this lure as a search bait or as your main method of fishing once you find yourself in the zone, you can be confident that this lure is built to stand up to the challenge. Designed with Rapala’s Magnum level of strength, built with through-wire construction, heavy-duty split rings, and VMC 9626 3X strong treble hooks, these baits are ready to fish straight out of the box no matter which species you are planning on targeting for the day. 

For more information about Rapala and the new X-Rap Magnum Xtreme trolling lures, head to their website and grab some for yourself!


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