In The Game Part 6
  |  First Published: May 2006

Last month we looked at different lures, colours and head shapes for relevant conditions. This month we will look at setting a basic spread of lures, which lures are best for what positions and also some of the jargon that gamefishers use to describe each position and lure.


When deciding how far back to run lures, it’s important to consider the sea conditions and boat’s wake. The lures must be staggered to prevent them fouling as you turn.

Your single longest lure is often referred to as the shotgun and usually run from the centre of the boat, sometimes from the rocket launcher or game chair.

Outrigger or long lures should be placed next and should run from your forward holders. The lines often spread with the use of outriggers. The shorter of these is the short ‘rigger and the longer is referred to as the long ‘rigger.

The closest lures are usually run from the transom corners of the boat and are known as the short and long corner lures. You want your lures to be in and around the white water created by the boat. The corner lures are usually in the white water and the rigger lures start back a little further in the clean water. The shotgun lure is placed well back and often tempts the slower fish that leisurely swim up to investigate the white water that they falsely think may be a bait school.

In general, lures with short, fat heads are preferred for billfish and many other pelagics, due to the water they push and smoke trail they exhibit. In rougher conditions these generally don’t run well in the longer positions, so a thinner head is often used.

When you are starting out in gamefishing, the easiest way to pick which lure to use is to swim it and see how it looks. If it doesn’t swim well in the current conditions, replace it with a different head shape. You’ll soon build up a mental picture on what head shapes work best in what positions and conditions.

In the closer positions, a lure with a short, fat head will usually swim well, however you may need to flat-line it with rubber bands (see QFM March issue). The scoop in the front of the head, combined with the density and type of skirt, decides how much air a lure grabs as it surfaces which affects its smoke trail.

Some lure heads have a slant face and these usually move around more laterally than the traditional straight face. They’re definitely worth adding to the spread when you’re getting a lot of lookers but no bites. The Meridian Quasi 4, my favourite slant face, is an ideal example for light tackle. The more erratic action is often a catalyst for a strike. They sometimes don’t run well in rough conditions, except when run short and flat-lined.

The wake emitted by the boat will vary, depending on the hull design and whether it is an outboard powered vessel or has twin or single screw inboards. Stagger the lure lengths from the boat so that they come down the face of the wave most of the time. This increases the visibility to the fish, and it’s easier for fish to see through water than air and broken water between waves.

I have included some diagrams of my preferred starting spreads for light tackle to 10kg in calm and rough sea conditions. These are by no means the best or only spreads to run but they’re my own confidence spreads that I like to start the days trolling with. Trial and error is the only way to get a spread of lures that you are happy with. My spreads should give you a rough idea of some of the lures that I have had success with in my local waters. In all lure choices there is no right or wrong, it’s just a case of finding lures that work well from your boat.


For light tackle fishing with line classes to 10kg there are a lot of variations in wind-on-leader lengths and lure leaders. For recreational fishing, anglers can fish any length leaders they wish, so let’s focus on leader configurations that meet the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) guidelines.

IGFA allow a combined total of 6.1m for the leader and double line. This is measured from the top of the double knot to the bottom of the last hook in the lure. The total length for just the wind-on and lure leader, without the double, is a maximum of 4.57m. My basic set-up is: double of 1m in my main line, which is connected to a wind-on-leader of 3m. All my lures have leaders on them and I limit the total length of this section (top of leader to the last hook) to 1.3m. This keeps me well within the IGFA guidelines with a little to spare to allow for line stretch and small errors in measuring. If I take my lure off the line to attach a live-bait hook rig then I know that this also must not be longer than 1.3m to meet the regulations.

With some rough guidelines to follow in lure selection and position, you should have no trouble in getting a range of lures together to successfully fish light tackle in your waters. Heavier tackle requires similar principles. In next month’s article I’ll cover techniques and lures for the high-speed trolling of pelagics before discussing tackle storage in a future issue.

Most tackle stores which stock quality gamefishing lures and accessories will have knowledgeable staff to advise you in your choices.

While you can take advice from all kinds of people, magazine articles and internet sites there is no substitute for getting out and working things out for yourself, based on the information you have as guidelines. While most of the advice you receive will be good, everybody’s experiences and opinions will vary and it’s a case of finding out what works for you.

After all, the experimenting is the best part!

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