GoingFishing

Trolling for Kings

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Gday Raiders

With the kingfish season warmin up im just wondering what trolling lures everyone recommends for kingfish?

My go to lures are the deep diving xmas tree and the xrap bibbed diver in pilchard and bonito but i rarely get kings on those lures.

Also do you recommend trolling the lures down deeper, say in the middle of the water column?

Edited by GoingFishing

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Hey Sam,

Great and timely topic. I'd love to hear other experiences. 

For me I have only had success trolling for kings with resin head Pakulas (various colours zuchinni, hot pink etc) and with metal head skirts both solid or jet design (again various coloured skirts depending mostly on the light conditions - light colours bright days, dark colours overcast days).  I troll the Pakulas out back as they float and don't sink onto the prop and the metals off the sides. 

The metals travel deeper in the water column. But then again I have mostly trolled for kingies around headlands in around 20m water, where there have been pinnacles or drop offs at 5-8m depth with foam wash above them 👌. So we are not talking about a very deep water column and both the surface and mid water trolled lures are within easy striking distance if the fish are interested.

I have tried but had no success with hardbodies of all sorts deep divers, poppers and various brands rapala etc. 

Would love to hear others experiences and tactics as kings are one of my favourite target species..

Cheers

Zoran

PS - Heres a "family" video from way back 2009 - with 2 newbies on the boat - Michael had never been fishing and first day out lands a 1m king.... bugger me - can't beat beginners luck .. ffwd the boring stuff to action starting 4:38 (I stayed on helm and camera given the proximity to the rock formation we named the  "buggers")! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aFIZ7ndLhs&t=497s

 

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I’ve caught most of mine trolling using rapala-style hardbodies in Qantas colours (red head, white body). I usually set out a blue or green natural looking Rapala-style, and a Qantas-colour. The qantas catches 95%.

this is mostly trolling in summer months around Pittwater.

ive caught a few trolling flies too. Usually white or chartreuse minnow patterns on sinking lines. The biggest one I’ve caught in Aus was 95cm and it took a minnow fly in Bantry Bay. Unlikely place I guess.

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I have only caught rats on the troll I use rapala hard bodies with the metal bib qantas colours and mackeral pattern. Who knows with king fish. One fly fishing charter uses stick baits with out hooks to bring fish towards his boat so the fly casters can have a go.

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Hey @Volitan and @blaxland ... what size rapalas and what speed do you troll at ? ... if you don't mind sharing. 

I've been trying a rapala 100mm body (about 125mm with metal bib) blue pilchard colour. Also a couple of other brand lures in slimy mackarel green colours - must admit I have not tried the qantas paint jobs - will do that next.

Cheers Z

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I use the same size and troll between 3 and 6 knots some days swell and wind will vary the boat speed at constant rpm so I aim for about  4 knots or 6 clam days as long as i can see the action on the rod tip.

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Some great information guys much appreciated.

As always with fishing this only leads to more questions ! 

Qantas colors.....is this different to the xmas tree? They sound like they are the same.

For trolled lures, what type of bib are you using....ie what action should i be wanting from the lure.

 

Edited by GoingFishing

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Great topic. I have nothing to add (yet) but will be following with interest so keep it coming!

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22 minutes ago, Sea Ranger said:

Pics guys,  put some pics up of these lures

Hahaha... sure Bear... I'll put up some shots of mine over the weekend.  

Cheers Z

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By qantas colours I mean the lure in the attached image. 

why this colour works well I can’t say. I generally stay away from lures with mackerel markings, or any kind of really natural markings. The point about the mackerel pattern is it’s designed to break up the image of the fish and hide it from predators. It does this so effectively that it has evolved in multiple unrelated fish families through parallel evolution - which is pretty  remarkable really - so I don’t want my lures being particularly good at hiding themselves from fish. The Qantas colour seems to really stand out and trigger some deep-seated response.

speed, depends on the lure action. Whatever is needed to get the lure doing a nice rhythmic pulsation, as could be done a baitfish. I expect it’s about 5 knots. Speed isn’t important, it’s the lures action that is.

I don’t have a downrigger so I’m usually pretty close to the surface. A downrigger would be great.

lure size from 120 to 200mm

bib size about the same as the one in the image.

generally rats are pretty easy to troll up when they are feeding. Bigger model kings are much harder.

 

as an aside - ive never really tried trolling a popper. Perhaps slow trolling around rocks, keeping the rod in my hand and working the popper to get maximum variation. I used to catch a lot of rats  flyfishing poppers around the navigation markers in Botany Bay and it was great fun, especially when you see them charge out of the deep to have a slash at your popper. I think I had great success with the popper because it’s so auditory - they can hear it from a long way away so you are casting a very wide net. 

It might be my resolution for this summer, to give slow-trolling a popper a try. I think it might work really well.

 

 

Edited by Volitan
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sorry, forgot the image

this is the Qantas colour

 

 

xrap.jpg

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41 minutes ago, Volitan said:

sorry, forgot the image

this is the Qantas colour

 

 

xrap.jpg

I call that a “red head”. I have a lot of success with those on bonito and have picked up the odd king on them. However, I prefer a Rapala X Rap Magnum in ghost. I troll them at about 5.5-6 knots. They have a great action and get down quite deep... this one is a Magnum 20 and gets down to 20 feet.

 

555031E9-B2C0-4524-A5D0-567DEDB18225.jpeg

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6 hours ago, GoingFishing said:

Gday Raiders

With the kingfish season warmin up im just wondering what trolling lures everyone recommends for kingfish?

My go to lures are the deep diving xmas tree and the xrap bibbed diver in pilchard and bonito but i rarely get kings on those lures.

Also do you recommend trolling the lures down deeper, say in the middle of the water column?

G'day GoingFishing - when the smaller sized fish are schooled up close in along the coast (between now and Christmas) and you often see them on the surface, the "old fashioned" lead headed white feathers in 6 inch length are a good way to get them. Head size 2 to 4 oz (50-100 gm) gets them down a couple of metres and a single 8/0-10/0 34007 hook on about 50 lb leader is fine.

When buying these old style lures they usually come with red plastic eyes- knock them off and put a piece of mother of pearl tape or 'shell' tape in the moulded eye cavity of the lure (you'll get more fish if you do this)- they used to be available with the pearl eyes but haven't seen them for quite a while. Before the shell/pearl tapes were available a mother of pearl button was glued into the socket, but if they weren't done evenly the lure could spin, the tape is easy way. If this wasn't working, an occy leg about a foot long was simply added to the lure's hook, just push hook through about a cm down the leg so entire hook is still exposed and leg trails freely. You can also use a squid candle but I had more success with the occy and you'll get several fish on each leg before they get it off. With the squid, they often get it off, not so the occy. Adding the leg is often the difference between getting heaps and none and don't worry about the hook being both large and exposed, even tiny kings swallow the lot.

When buying feathers for kings if you can't find all white, personally I find pulling the red or other colours out and only leaving the white works better most of the time.

As for depth, when we were handlining them, we either used 4-6 oz (up to 170 gm) heads or trolled the lures about 6-7 ft behind a large barrel sinker (up to 200 gms) so that they were between 10-20 ft deep close to the boat. Calmer days deeper lures, rougher days closer to the surface. Most of the kings we handlined with this method were under 4-5 kg, but they could be caught really quickly by putting the boat in a really tight circle and always throwing to the inside of the moving vessel - no stopping the boat when doing it this way and you can get todays bag limits in a few minutes (provided they're big enough!) 

Further out at sea at places like the Peak off Sydney, the profesional handline trollers use a series of crimped on barrel sinkers to maintain their baits/lures about 10-15 metres under the surface and troll the same tight circle method once they encounter the fish, they then use the sinkers as 'grab points' when pulling in large Kings without stopping the boat. 

As for minnow style lures, slow trolling larger sizes (15-25 cm length body) works ok also, but interestingly the only colours I ever recommend are all fluoro orange(best kingfish colour by far in my opinion), all hot pink and all white- especially pearly white- note all these lures in their own SINGLE colours without marks of other colour. I know they don't resemble anything we see in the water, however the always inquisitive Kingfish will always check them out. Of course they take all sorts of lures and colours but these are the ones that have worked year after year, from both the boat and off the rocks. Interesting also is that both the pink and orange rarely produce any other fish besides Kings and large Tailor.

There are lots of different ways to tempt Kings, the above are what has always worked for me.  Cheers Waza

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I’ve never caught a king (even a rat) trolling lures. Garfish and squid works for me.

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7 hours ago, Volitan said:

The point about the mackerel pattern is it’s designed to break up the image of the fish and hide it from predators

Hmmm maybe thats where I've been going wrong with hardbodies ... my collection is largely "natural looking" colours.  Think I might try my hand at air-brushing in red and white.

Cheers Z

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Ok , if you are serious about kings, forget about lures, sure sometimes you will get a few or even strike a bite when you get lots, for example last April while trolling for mackeral up at Coffs i got a a 95cm model on a red head laser pro but if i am targeting kings i dont waste my time with lures (having said that a redhead/white body "qantas" coloured Halco or Rapala seems to attract more bites than most, but then again I generally ALWAYS have one out the back when trolling lures for bonnies/mackeral/tuna/wahoo) . So if you want to get consistant results for kings with sportsfishing tackle (what Waz said about leadlines is true but thats not exactly a sportsfishing method) then  1. get yourself a downrigger , actually get two and learn how to use it. 2. learn how to catch squid- at least reasonably consistantly, they wont want squid every day but the days they do- well forget anything else, however at this time of the year i actually do better on yakkas and slimies. 3. everything is food to a king, live pike are deadly. 4. create a competitve situation, troll 2 livies or if you are a well coordinated crew 3 at a time. This gets the kings fired up , if you hook one then leave it in the water until you get a second bite or a third, trolling multiple baits creates a "baitschool effect", I also like to have a teaser in the water (usually a couple of flashy metal lures off the downrigger bomb). Off my boat we average 2-300 kings a year and i will not claim to be any great fisho but these are the same methods used by the best 3 charter operators off Sydney and thats where i got it from. Good luck

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4 hours ago, PaddyT said:

Ok , if you are serious about kings, forget about lures, sure sometimes you will get a few or even strike a bite when you get lots, for example last April while trolling for mackeral up at Coffs i got a a 95cm model on a red head laser pro but if i am targeting kings i dont waste my time with lures (having said that a redhead/white body "qantas" coloured Halco or Rapala seems to attract more bites than most, but then again I generally ALWAYS have one out the back when trolling lures for bonnies/mackeral/tuna/wahoo) . So if you want to get consistant results for kings with sportsfishing tackle (what Waz said about leadlines is true but thats not exactly a sportsfishing method) then  1. get yourself a downrigger , actually get two and learn how to use it. 2. learn how to catch squid- at least reasonably consistantly, they wont want squid every day but the days they do- well forget anything else, however at this time of the year i actually do better on yakkas and slimies. 3. everything is food to a king, live pike are deadly. 4. create a competitve situation, troll 2 livies or if you are a well coordinated crew 3 at a time. This gets the kings fired up , if you hook one then leave it in the water until you get a second bite or a third, trolling multiple baits creates a "baitschool effect", I also like to have a teaser in the water (usually a couple of flashy metal lures off the downrigger bomb). Off my boat we average 2-300 kings a year and i will not claim to be any great fisho but these are the same methods used by the best 3 charter operators off Sydney and thats where i got it from. Good luck

Hi Paddy totally agree leadlining and handlining them not at all a sportsfishing method. Also anyone that hasn't had a go at doing it that way is in for a bit of a shock, as pulling them in while the boat is moving is really hard work! Just a follow-on from putting the occy leg on the feathers is why I posted it. 

Agree totally if you're serious about Kings inshore use yakkas,slimies and squid/cuttlefish and downrig and/or use a flasher. Pike are in my opinion as good or better than squid and I made my own crude moulds and produced a soft plastic 'version' which I've given to quite a few Raiders at a couple of different social meets. No feedback on any/no results as yet, but I'm convinced they'll work fine 

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16 hours ago, Berleyguts said:

I call that a “red head”. I have a lot of success with those on bonito and have picked up the odd king on them. However, I prefer a Rapala X Rap Magnum in ghost. I troll them at about 5.5-6 knots. They have a great action and get down quite deep... this one is a Magnum 20 and gets down to 20 feet.

 

555031E9-B2C0-4524-A5D0-567DEDB18225.jpeg

Do you get many kings on this lure. I used to own one years ago but lost it one day on the botany FAD 😅.

 

8 hours ago, PaddyT said:

Ok , if you are serious about kings, forget about lures, sure sometimes you will get a few or even strike a bite when you get lots, for example last April while trolling for mackeral up at Coffs i got a a 95cm model on a red head laser pro but if i am targeting kings i dont waste my time with lures (having said that a redhead/white body "qantas" coloured Halco or Rapala seems to attract more bites than most, but then again I generally ALWAYS have one out the back when trolling lures for bonnies/mackeral/tuna/wahoo) . So if you want to get consistant results for kings with sportsfishing tackle (what Waz said about leadlines is true but thats not exactly a sportsfishing method) then  1. get yourself a downrigger , actually get two and learn how to use it. 2. learn how to catch squid- at least reasonably consistantly, they wont want squid every day but the days they do- well forget anything else, however at this time of the year i actually do better on yakkas and slimies. 3. everything is food to a king, live pike are deadly. 4. create a competitve situation, troll 2 livies or if you are a well coordinated crew 3 at a time. This gets the kings fired up , if you hook one then leave it in the water until you get a second bite or a third, trolling multiple baits creates a "baitschool effect", I also like to have a teaser in the water (usually a couple of flashy metal lures off the downrigger bomb). Off my boat we average 2-300 kings a year and i will not claim to be any great fisho but these are the same methods used by the best 3 charter operators off Sydney and thats where i got it from. Good luck

Thanks Paddy thats great advice !!! 

The kind of fishing your talking about sounds like a dedicated day fishing for kings which i rarely/have never done. I will give it a try this summer but dont own a downrigger yet.

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13 hours ago, wazatherfisherman said:

G'day GoingFishing - when the smaller sized fish are schooled up close in along the coast (between now and Christmas) and you often see them on the surface, the "old fashioned" lead headed white feathers in 6 inch length are a good way to get them. Head size 2 to 4 oz (50-100 gm) gets them down a couple of metres and a single 8/0-10/0 34007 hook on about 50 lb leader is fine.

When buying these old style lures they usually come with red plastic eyes- knock them off and put a piece of mother of pearl tape or 'shell' tape in the moulded eye cavity of the lure (you'll get more fish if you do this)- they used to be available with the pearl eyes but haven't seen them for quite a while. Before the shell/pearl tapes were available a mother of pearl button was glued into the socket, but if they weren't done evenly the lure could spin, the tape is easy way. If this wasn't working, an occy leg about a foot long was simply added to the lure's hook, just push hook through about a cm down the leg so entire hook is still exposed and leg trails freely. You can also use a squid candle but I had more success with the occy and you'll get several fish on each leg before they get it off. With the squid, they often get it off, not so the occy. Adding the leg is often the difference between getting heaps and none and don't worry about the hook being both large and exposed, even tiny kings swallow the lot.

When buying feathers for kings if you can't find all white, personally I find pulling the red or other colours out and only leaving the white works better most of the time.

As for depth, when we were handlining them, we either used 4-6 oz (up to 170 gm) heads or trolled the lures about 6-7 ft behind a large barrel sinker (up to 200 gms) so that they were between 10-20 ft deep close to the boat. Calmer days deeper lures, rougher days closer to the surface. Most of the kings we handlined with this method were under 4-5 kg, but they could be caught really quickly by putting the boat in a really tight circle and always throwing to the inside of the moving vessel - no stopping the boat when doing it this way and you can get todays bag limits in a few minutes (provided they're big enough!) 

Further out at sea at places like the Peak off Sydney, the profesional handline trollers use a series of crimped on barrel sinkers to maintain their baits/lures about 10-15 metres under the surface and troll the same tight circle method once they encounter the fish, they then use the sinkers as 'grab points' when pulling in large Kings without stopping the boat. 

As for minnow style lures, slow trolling larger sizes (15-25 cm length body) works ok also, but interestingly the only colours I ever recommend are all fluoro orange(best kingfish colour by far in my opinion), all hot pink and all white- especially pearly white- note all these lures in their own SINGLE colours without marks of other colour. I know they don't resemble anything we see in the water, however the always inquisitive Kingfish will always check them out. Of course they take all sorts of lures and colours but these are the ones that have worked year after year, from both the boat and off the rocks. Interesting also is that both the pink and orange rarely produce any other fish besides Kings and large Tailor.

There are lots of different ways to tempt Kings, the above are what has always worked for me.  Cheers Waza

Champion advice there Wazza.

Certainly some interesting methods there worth a shot. 

Do you have a photo of the feathered lures mentioned above?

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Pictures as promised.

For me - all these skirts worked on Kings at different times (the pink pakula even landed a 70+kg striped marlin)

Top two are resin head and bottom two solid metal heads

image.png.98c18e438bc8db9eafb0fd576b882b39.png

All these metal jets have also caught kings

image.png.c1fd86c08ab4830a9ed777b0531aea4e.png

This Rapala is yet to catch a fish (it caught me in the tackle store though) !!!

image.png.1c4a3c4614c8ab21f663d1e13302f054.png

Infact not much luck for me with all these hardbodies - rapala, halco etc ..  But then when I look at them through @Volitan's eyes -- they are mostly natural colours  maybe that's my problem.   

image.png.bf881b7a71e8f393cc5c0dc42f140303.png

Anyway ... I have focused on the skirts mainly ..... but this season I'll certainly try airbrushing "Qantas colours" on a few and have another go with the hard bodies ! 

Cheers Zoran

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14 minutes ago, zmk1962 said:

Pictures as promised.

For me - all these skirts worked on Kings at different times (the pink pakula even landed a 70+kg striped marlin)

Top two are resin head and bottom two solid metal heads

image.png.98c18e438bc8db9eafb0fd576b882b39.png

All these metal jets have also caught kings

image.png.c1fd86c08ab4830a9ed777b0531aea4e.png

This Rapala is yet to catch a fish (it caught me in the tackle store though) !!!

image.png.1c4a3c4614c8ab21f663d1e13302f054.png

Infact not much luck for me with all these hardbodies - rapala, halco etc ..  But then when I look at them through @Volitan's eyes -- they are mostly natural colours  maybe that's my problem.   

image.png.bf881b7a71e8f393cc5c0dc42f140303.png

Anyway ... I have focused on the skirts mainly ..... but this season I'll certainly try airbrushing "Qantas colours" on a few and have another go with the hard bodies ! 

Cheers Zoran

That short bibbed lure in blue with white bottom in top centre is a killer. If memory serves my right its called a rapala "slasher".

Not ideal for trolling unless your doing a very slow troll 4kn. But i have casted this lure into washes, bust ups and at the FAD and it really produces. My only complaint is that it doesn't have much weight to it so casting can be difficult unless using braid.

Ps...thanks for the photos!

Edited by GoingFishing

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22 minutes ago, GoingFishing said:

That short bibbed lure in blue with white bottom in top centre is a killer. If memory serves my right its called a rapala "slasher".

Yup... all these had good write-ups somewhere and ended up accumulated in my tackle box over time hehehe. No idea why I have not had success with the hardbodies.  Like the other guys ... I troll 4-7kts (7-12km/h) ... and watch the rod tips to make sure they are showing lure action.  The skirts I troll faster 9-16km/h (typically 12) depending on conditions.

To @PaddyT's great advice, I have downrigged and had some success with squid (live and frozen) but have struggled with live yakka/slimies as my 200hp 2stroke idles at 700rpm and in gear that pushes my rig close to 4km/h and its too fast and the bait doesn't last ... ideally with live yakka/slimies you should be at dead slow 2-3km/h.  (I don't like to troll near rocks on the 15hp Aux).

Cheers Z

Edited by zmk1962

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The theory behind qantas colours is from behind the wobbling lure looks like it has flared gills the sign of a stressed fish so the sneaky fisho told me

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