Dredges for Offshore Trolling: Do You Need Them?

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mylar dredge

Modern dredges can be light and easy to stow, thanks to material like mylar.

Offshore trollers often pull multi-arm dredges to tease billfish up to the boat, and serious marlin anglers wouldn’t leave the dock without one. But does the average angler towing a mixed spread for multiple species like tuna, wahoo, and mahi mahi need to worry about having a dredge?

mylar dredge

Modern dredges can be light and easy to stow, thanks to material like mylar.

fishing dredge under water

A view of the same mylar dredge, from the bridge – note the flash!

The short answer: yes. Dredges will bring many species in to the spread. Those of us who pull mylar dredges will note that when a wolf-pack of yellowfin tuna slam all the lines at once, your mylar dredge will likely be missing a teaser or two. Strip teasers (long flaps of mylar) will have pin-holes on their ends, from the tuna’s teeth. And the bait running just behind the dredge is often the first one to get hit.

Yes, there is a down-side. Dredges put a lot of additional potential for tangles into the mix. They’re expensive. They require a heavy, clunky six or seven pound weight (or a bulky Z-Wing planer). And if you run one from a stern cleat as opposed to from a dredge rod with an electric reel, they’re a serious pain in the butt to deploy and remove from the water. Still, all of that said, their fish-attracting benefits vastly outweigh the cons of running a dredge.

Want to make up your own inexpensive, KISS dredge line? It’s simple. Start with a four-arm dredge, which is much easier to manage than a six-arm, and stick with one made of flashy light mylar or a similar material. Rig it with a ball-bearing swivel on the front, going to six feet of 300-pound test and then another swivel. This clips to your weight or Z-wing. Then construct another 50 foot length of 300 pound test and crimp a loop into the end.When you deploy it, put the loop around a stern cleat. (Be sure to slow to minimum speed when letting it out and bringing it in). The entire affair won’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks, it’ll be easy to stow in a mesh bag, and it absolutely, positively, will bring fish up to your boat.


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