Recently we talked about kite fishing for cobia, so it seems like a great time to address another method of cobia fishing that usually gets ignored in favor of sight fishing or chumming: trolling.
Sure, anglers will pick up cobia here and there while trolling. But few people ever set out a spread specifically for trolling this species up. Truth be told, if you tailor your offerings to match the species this tactic can be a total killer. The secret? Give ’em eels. Sort of.
Okay, so live eels don’t troll very well. They tend to die, spin, or get lopped in half by pesky bluefish. That’s why trolling for cobia is best done with artificial eels – surgical hoses. Hoses should be run 15 to 20 feet behind torpedo weights, ranging from four to 20 ounces. A good spread places a pair of heavy rigs forward and a lighter pair aft, with a mix of colors. The most effective color choices, however, are almost always green, red, and slight variations on these colors (pink is a surprisingly good choice at times).
Critical tip: Before you let any lines out back behind the boat, hold the rod tip down low and watch the hose swim. It should corkscrew and swirl, not drag. To give it more action, put the hook through the eye in the front of the hose, twist it into a figure-eight, and give it a hard tug. Second critical tip: make sure there’s a high-quality ball-bearing swivel between the hose and the weight, or thanks to all that cork-screwing you’ll end up with horrific line twist.
Trolling speed is usually set at between five and six knots, but truth be told this usually isn’t a critical choice. The most important thing is to watch the hose swim and make sure it has good action, at whatever speed you’re moving at.
When cobia can be spotted up top and cast to, are you likely to troll for them? Nah. When they’re attracted to a chum slick like flies to a picnic, will this be the choice tactic? Not likely. But when you need to cover water and prospect or you’re not sure just where those cobia are, trolling can’t be beat – even if most anglers do ignore this tactic, when it comes to cobia fishing.