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Offshore Trolling Teasers .... Don't Leave The Dock Without Them      by Dave Reed

Scoop style teaser with very erratic swimming action.  

When I speak at fishing clubs, I often make a statement that shocks everyone there. I tell them that their trolling teasers will be much more important in catching fish than their favorite offshore trolling lures! Now consider that statement is coming from a guy that made his living selling offshore trolling lures for over 18 years. An offshore teaser doesn't have to be some mysterious voodoo do-dad that you purchase from a guy wearing a trench coat from the back of his pick-up truck or a dark corner at a fishing tackle show. For the sake of this article, a teaser is anything you troll behind the boat that doesn't have a hook in it.


Why use teasers at all?

You can have the very best trolling lures that were ever made (if there is such a thing) and still not be all that productive with your trolling results! Why? If you can't draw a fish to within the "striking" range of your lures, you just won't be able to catch them. It is actually quite simple. If you can make a predator think that the dinner bell is ringing, you will have a much better chance of catching him while he is in a hungry mood.

Most fish only have three original thoughts in their entire lives:

  1. If it's smaller than it!
  2. If it's the same size as you..........swim with it for protection.
  3. If it's bigger than you...............get the heck out of there!

It's a matter of energy expended versus energy replenished!

Fish have learned through their evolution that there is a limited amount of things that they can catch and eat without using too much of their reserve energy. In order to catch and eat something, they have learned that they will need to expend certain amounts of their energy. If predators are expending too much energy without getting any results, they will soon perish. This is the reason why nearly all lures (good and bad) will eventually catch fish. A predator is constantly on the hunt for an easy meal that will only require a limited amount of his energy to catch. Occasionally even a bad lure will flop in front of a starving fish.

We use teasers to capitalize on this feeding instinct. You can actually attract fish by letting them think that there is an available meal that will not take an extreme amount of effort for him to catch and devour it. Just look at it this way. If you were a fish, which boat would you be more attracted to? Would you charge over to the boat that has a small handful of swiftly running lures being quietly and uniformly trolled like soldiers in a march or would you be more attracted to the boat with things flopping all over the place like injured fish during a giant feeding frenzy? For any predator...... that's an easy choice!

Should you use big teasers or small ones or does size even matter?

Many offshore species are often attracted right to the transom by good trolling teasers. As long as you have the maximum action you can comfortably handle and control within your spread, size really doesn't matter. Small teasers will attract hungry fish directly to them. Really large teasers attract curious fish to see what they perceive as being a fellow predator that might be chasing his next potential meal. Hopefully, the predator you attract will then drop off the teaser and be attracted to your baits. I actually prefer the biggest teasers possible because there is less chance that the fish will hit the teaser itself and simply leave disappointed. I personally just want to attract predator fish to get closer to my trolling lure spread. Also, a bigger teaser is going to be easier for the predator to sense from a distance.

What type of teaser works best?

All teasers tend to help attract fish. Some have different methods of doing it.


A mirrored teaser creates a huge flashing through the entire water column that can cause a fish to be attracted to the spread. On certain bright days, this can be a very effective method of getting them to look at your lures.


Extremely large lures also make great teasers, especially the ones that have a very erratic action and tend to look like an excited fish. Other predators are going to be in a hurry to get in on the "frenzy". Pull large teasers hookless and on the lightest leader that you feel comfortable with in order to get the most of the action that was designed into that lure.


Strings of small flashing spinners or small lures (often called daisy chains) in a row look very much like a school of baitfish. When you mix this with a lot of other activity within a spread, this can look very inviting to a hungry cruising predator looking for a quick lunch.

  Artificial "birds" - that wobble and splash on the surface tend to tell the fish that something is going on right in the immediate area. They usually determine that it's worth the effort for them to investigate further.
  Large brightly colored boards cut in the shape of a fish and boat fenders painted up to look like a large fish all do one important thing. They tell predators that there is currently "life happening" at this location and it is going to be worth expending the energy to check it out.

I had a friend that once twenty years ago actually trolled a giant truck hubcap as a teaser. He still swears that it brought up lots of fish. I even once used a string of coke cans as a teaser and I can tell you that it worked exceptionally well before the aluminum shredded into pieces from the force of the water. Anything that will attract attention can be a great teaser.

If you want to get the most out of your offshore trolling lures.......... first you need to get the most out of your teasers!


Editor's Note: Dave Reed was the former owner of both Eye Catcher Lures and Hatteras Lures for 20 years and specialized in innovative and unique custom hand made offshore lures, teasers and rigging. Currently Dave is working as a website designer and fishing guide in Canada.





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