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Trolling is generally a frowned-upon technique to use for catching Bass in "Bassmaster" circles, but it is an age-old and very productive technique first developed, written about and practised by Bill Murphy

Bill used Rapalas and lead-core line and had great results. For more info, do yourself a favour and get his book "In Pursuit of Giant Bass":

  You can order the book from or

The trolling technique has since been further developed (some would say "perfected") by Jerry Rago and his buddies, notably Mike Long

Jerry is the inventor and manufacturer of the Rago Generic Trout (wooden body and plastic tail):

and the all-plastic Rago Generic Swimbait:


Proof of the efficacy of these lures and the trolling technique? I'm glad you asked! Check this out!

This utter Hawg of 16.5lb was taken recently by Jerry Rago at Lake Murray (California, USA) whilst deep-trolling the Generic Swimbait


"Capt." Greg Vella displays a massive 12.7lb Lake Perris, California, Bass taken on the Rago Generic Trout in Midnight Magic colour (solid black with red eye).


And here's Jerry Rago, once again, this time with a 13.5lber (centre). Whoa! What about the 3 arms? That's Mike Long obscured from view with a nice brace of Bass (11lb and 10lb)! The venue? Lake Murray, San Diego, California (USA).


Scott Whitmer with a trophy Bass taken on a 9" Osprey Talon while fishing a slow-troll/ deadstick pattern (stop and go) on Lake Perris, CA, in December 2001 at 25' in 90' of water! Here's a pic of an Osprey Talon:

So there you have it! Trolling the Rago Generic Trout (wooden body and plastic tail), the all-plastic Rago Generic Swimbait, the all-plastic Osprey Talon and the hard plastic head, soft plastic body Castaic Soft Bait Trout will most definitely produce results. You might even try a big Rapala!

The accepted opinion seems to be that the best motors for this type of trolling are the new breed of 4-strokes. Rumour has it that Jerry Rago uses a Wellcraft centre console boat with a 50hp 4-stroke motor and slow trolls all day at about 1 knot speed with his lures running from 15 - 20+ feet down and he catches lots of 10lb plus fish as regular as clockwork!  

Not only the "big names" have had results with trolling big swimbaits. Listen to Josh Declusin:

"I spend most of my time on Rancho Seco trolling because the water is so clear. When you cast, you are fishing for fish in between the boat and how far you cast. I have caught all my big bass trolling. I devoted alot of time last year to casting and it didn't produce for me. At Seco the whole lake has underwater weeds. My graph shows these. I have seen weed growth in 50 feet of water. Sunlight reaches these depths because the water is so clear. I have caught bass in 20-25 feet of water. The weeds seem to grow 5-8 feet off the bottom. I try to get my Castaic Trout right above these weeds. It seems to dive 10-13 feet deep. Sometimes I hook the weeds but it is worth the hassle when you get a hog. Percentage wise, I spend about 80% trolling and 20% casting. I cast to mix it up every once it a while. I hope this helps ...".

Thanks, Josh, for the pointers! Proof of Josh's results - a 13.3lb beauty taken whilst trolling the 9" Castaic Soft Bait Trout at Rancho Seco (California, USA) on 11 January 2003.

And now for some input from Steve Mras:

"I read the stuff on Jerry Rago at your website. 

I can confirm that he fishes from what looks like a 16' Wellcraft center console with a 50 hp four stroke outboard.  It's a low profile center console, much like a bay boat.  They run the rods off of holders rigged to the console in a spreader fashion, in other words, spread out like outriggers. The rods are more typical saltwater rods with saltwater type bait casting reels filled with mono, probably 20 lb or 30 lb. He's definitely getting the lures down to about 25' as I've metered spots that he's snagged on. I witnessed the same with his buddy snagging on a rockpile 24' deep. I watched them pull the lures in and they were the $100 Generic Trouts straight tied. I did not see any weights to get them down deep. I have yet to hold or see in person one of these $100 jewels. I certainly can afford a grip of them, but somehow, a $100 lure just does not seem right.

I'll write you an article on trolling, in time. I'll be honest, this was my first bass of 10 lbs or more while trolling. For me to write an article on the subject of trolling for trophy largemouth at this time is kind of presumptuous. Right now I'm adapting proven techniques from my saltwater background to the trophy bass quest. When I take my plans to the next level, then I'll write you an article.

I've tried trolling at Lake Perris, which is a Rago haunt, but no success.  In fact, we had no success whatsoever at Perris this year and very few others got big fish. I know that Jerry got a few, but I also noticed that he vacated Lake Perris for other more productive lakes in fairly short order.  The article on website about Jerry getting 21 in two weeks describes an epic bite that occurred back in December '01 and carried over throughout spring '02. That was not the case this year as I'm told that they shocked and transplanted many fish out of Perris and into Diamond Valley and Skinner.

There are a few things I'm doing different than Jerry Rago. The first one is out of necessity. I'm trolling off the bow mounted troll motor because my carbureted premix 150 hp Mercury trolls at 2+ mph at idle and those motors load up at idle speed. I really need a four stroke outboard such as a Yamaho 115 for my Ranger 198. I'm working on that. Second, I'm using a downrigger to control/set the depth of my lure. Now that I've proven to myself that trolling a single trout on the downrigger works, I intend to make use of saltwater teaser systems for trolling. It's real simple: I want to simulate a school of trout swimming by.  I want to simulate my own fresh trout plant. I have no doubt that this system will work. I just need to get it ready for next year as the trout plants are done down here in the flats of SoCal.".

Steve Mras with proof of the power of trolling the "Big Baits". A 10lb Bass on a 12" Castaic Soft Bait Trout. Thanks, Steve, for the info! 


So, SA Bassers, when are YOU going out TROLLING for a change?


Compiled by Jacques Wolmarans

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