Unlike other marlin, blacks live only in the Pacific. They are considered by most marine biologists to be a continental shelf species – meaning that they tend to remain near landmasses and are unlikely to be found in open waters. Perhaps that characteristic contributes to the black marlin’s more deliberate nature. Black marlin are more likely to remain in a specific area for longer periods of time, move slower than a blue or a striper, and feed in a more methodical, systematic way. Like all marlin, they are opportunistic feeders but differ from the others in that they are known to consume loads of reef fish. Hunting areas of structure for grouper, snapper and other reef fish, the black develops more of a territorial personality. Blacks caught and released in one area are often caught again in the same spot weeks later.
Marlin trolling relies on a pattern of lures to maximise strikes. Many marlin seem to be drawn like a magnet to a particular lure and are rarely scared of the boat.
For marlin, four or five lures in the pattern is enough as things can be very difficult if a jumping fish takes the lure close to the boat and then weaves its way out through the other outfits.
When marlin trolling, a teaser, bird or similar device that adds action in amongst the lures can help draw extra strikes. From my experience, it is hard to beat a teaser beating and flashing just in front of the first big fish lure.
How the lures are arranged is a matter of preference and a bit of experience, however the pattern shown here works very well.
Some anglers like to work the lures in matched pairs down each side of the boat while others like to have a long side and short side. With a short corner rod matched with a short lure in the outrigger and a long corner rod matched by a long line on the rigger.
The fifth lure is usually set down the middle of the pattern and behind the other lures with the rod in the rocket launcher, this is known as the ’shotgun’ lure.
Best results on marlin have come from using a five lure pattern with two short lures run from the stern corners, (about 25 metres or 75 feet) two outrigger lures set at around 50 metres (150 feet) and the fifth lure run down the centre of the wake but kept slightly shorter than the outrigger lures.
The short lures and the outrigger lures are set as matched pairs.
The advantage of this pattern is that it is almost tangle free and allows for manoeuvring around fish attractors, schools of bait, islands or whatever without fuss.
All lures are set on top of the wake rolls behind the boat. The wake roll optically enhances the appearance and the movement of the lure to any fish swimming below. The effect is like putting something in the centre of a glass lens. Lures can be set in the second, third and so on wake rolls.
Even though it looks close many fish are caught in the second or third wake roll close to the boat, so don’t think all the lures need to be way back, they don’t.
Lure patterns are set very deliberately and attention should be paid to lure placement. Some lures simply work and catch better in particular spots in the pattern. Most of this is only discovered by experience and strike rates.