School of Deception

When Traditional Enticements Come Up Short, Competitive Crews Look To Dredge Teasers To Pick Up The Slack.

Capt. Steve Dougherty January 14, 2010

With sailfish season in full swing, you’ve likely already connected with a few of these majestic predators. And while your typical trolling techniques may be producing, why not spruce up your spread with a lifelike baitball?

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A combination of live and artificial offerings creates the perfect enticement. Photo: Scott Kerrigan

Unlike typical daisy chains and spreader bars that flash enticements along the surface, dredge teasers are designed to run deeper in the water column. No matter how advanced or simple you choose to rig, it is an undisputable fact that dredge teasers have earned a spot in every blue water angler’s offshore arsenal.

My advice is to start small and grow into more in-depth offerings as your experience and success increases.

In the early days of sailfishing trolling was definitely the name of the game, although once this highly migratory predator’s precise feeding habits were studied, live bait fishing became an effective and common practice. While tournament professionals utilizing live bait no doubt account for impressive release numbers, unless you have an educated and dedicated crew, not to mention an offshore bank account for funding your baitfish dependency, trolling may be your best bet. Thanks to recent improvements in advanced rigging techniques and tackle design, dead-bait trolling has been taken to a whole new level. Add in the fact that three-dimensional dredge teasers can attract attention in a seemingly lifeless ocean, and anglers who choose to troll can actually out fish their live bait brethren.

If you’re a weekend warrior just getting into the game then you probably won’t go through the trouble of rigging multiple dredge teasers adorned with dozens of fresh offerings. While such dredges are highly effective, they do require a level of effort and care. The benefit is that if you’re willing to put in the time you will have a huge advantage over the crews that choose not to go to the extra mile.

Keep in mind that there are a few steps you can take to eliminate some of the aggravation. When it comes to rigging dredge teasers there are two schools of thought—natural and artificial. Die-hard tournament professionals often choose only to rig with natural offerings, a painstakingly tedious process that requires the dedication of a full time mate. Instead of rigging dozens of mullet or ballyhoo, why not go fake? Imitation offerings are durable, easy to rig, and provide more lifelike tail-kick and action than even the most energized ballyhoo or mullet ever could. Better yet, why not blend the best of both worlds? By combining both natural and artificial teaser baits you can effectively appeal to all of a fish’s senses while also cutting back on rigging time.

Flash, smell, durability and relative ease of rigging are only a few of the beneficial attributes afforded by a combination dredge. When it comes time to positioning the baits it makes perfectly good sense that most predatory fish will investigate from behind the dredge and strike the dredge’s trailing baits. With this scenario it’s best to position your natural baits at the tail of the dredge.

If you think fishing a dredge teaser is as simple as placing one in the water to compliment your trolling spread; you are sadly mistaken. Effectively fishing a dredge teaser requires fine-tuning your trolling speed to keep the dredge swimming well under the surface. A trolling speed of three to five knots will typically keep your dredge swimming properly. Any faster and it will be difficult the keep the dredge from porpoising out of the water, even with a two to four pound trolling weight affixed to the front of the dredge. If your dredge skips out of the water you run the risk of your baits flipping over the dredge, tangling or worse yet, snapping off.

I know that when I think of dredge teasers the image of a well-equipped 50-something foot battlewagon comes to mind. However, thanks to innovative designs this is no longer the case. Manufacturers are creating compact dredge teasers that are better suited for small center consoles and walk-arounds. Dredge teaser designs are varied and are available as simple four arm versions with anywhere from 8 to 20 offerings, up to six arm variations with 30 teaser baits. Some tournament crews choose to rig cumbersome double and triple-tiered dredges that hold over six-dozen baits! My advice is to start small and grow into more in-depth offerings as your experience and success increases. Many anglers likely choose to avoid dredge teasers simply due to lengthy rigging and maintenance and the difficulty in fishing them properly. If you’re solely interested in fishing a teaser, a classic pink squid daisy chain should do the trick, however, if you’re interested in stepping up your game to a whole new level and competing with the best, you need a few tricks up your sleeve.

It’s not hard to understand why 30 perfectly aligned baitfish swimming in sync would attract inquisitive predators. Among blue water tournament professionals, dredge teasers have become the only option when it comes to seducing aggressive spindlebeaks into an otherwise lifeless spread.

Dredge Teaser & Accessory Manufacturers

Calcutta
www.calcuttafishing.com

Mann’s
www.mannsbait.com

Mold Craft
www.moldcraftproducts.com

Offshore Innovations
www.offshore-innovations.com

Strike Point Tackle
www.strikepointtackle.com

Tournament Cable
www.tournamentcable.com

Williamson
www.williamsonlures.com

Z man
www.zmanfishing.com

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