Capt. Art's Blog

Keeping up with Searcher

Ask A Captain! week 3 answers


What do you think of when you hear the word “troll?”

  • A foul-tempered creature that lives under a bridge?
  • An individual who spends time sowing discord on the Internet?
  • The action of fishing with a hook and line pulled through the water?

When our Searcher friends started sending in lots of trolling questions, I knew I needed to “Ask A Captain!” myself, since my word association with “troll” leaned toward the cave dwellers of Middle-Earth!

Our Searcher captains are multi-talented and well-versed in a many areas, however, each has his own particular specialty.  I call Captain Kenny our expert at any topic relating to “Life on the Ocean” because of his abundant historical knowledge and personal experiences with almost every way you can live, work (and play!) on the water.  In 1969, he started working on his brother in law’s charter boat, and received his captain’s license six years later.  Captain Kenny has been on the water ever since!

I received lots of questions about cedar plugs, trolling, feathers and “old-school” vs. “new-school” fishing techniques, so I knew I needed to ask Captain Kenny for answers to this baffling batch of inquiries.  Here is his response:

 “Hello there, and thank you for your questions! First let’s talk about cedar plugs. When I started fishing as a teenager, I don’t remember seeing them at all.  Feathers were the most popular, with a metal head and two plastic pieces for eyes. They weren’t plastic jigs like the ones you see now.  They worked very well for trolling. Then in the 80’s I remember the cedar plugs became more popular.  They were just the plain wood plug, not the painted bright colors that appeared in the mid to late 90’s. I didn’t know how the trend would ebb and flow as it has. Cedar plugs would be popular and everyone would have them, and then other anglers wouldn’t use them at all.  I see the same pattern today, some anglers swear by them and some won’t use them at all.

I have seen both plugs and feathers work well for trolling, and I’ve seen them both fail.  It comes down to using the right tools for the current situation.  The wood plug is light, and it moves around alot, which can work for attracting fish under certain conditions and speeds. But it also can tangle more often because of the wild movement.  You can lose fish more often with the plug because it’s a single hook vs. a double trolling hook.  I personally prefer feathers but I have seen the cedar plug perform magnificently.

Now let’s talk about trolling, its purpose, and whether it is required.  I look at every group on a fishing trip as a team – we are all in it together to find fish and get a good stop.  So even though it is not required to participate in trolling, I like to see those anglers that get out there with a sense of duty and excitement to find fish.  It’s not just about watching the troll lines, it’s looking for “eyeball fish”.  If you aren’t out on the deck watching for jumpers, breezers, puddlers, breaking fish and other surface signs, you might miss the opportunity for a good stop.  I have seen a blind jig strike turn into a pile of fish that we could missed if we depended completely on fish-finding technology.

Speaking of fish finding, I will never forget how one of my fishing jobs was to stare at the screen of a fathometer for long periods of time, waiting for a blur of fish flashing on the meter.  Later, Paul Farr designed a little box that hooked up to the meter that emitted an audible alert when the fish went under the boat, and that was a huge leap in using technology to supplement traditional fishing methods.  (And I didn’t have to stare at that screen anymore!)  Now you see all kinds of technology in the wheelhouse to find fish, but you still see blind jig strikes!  That’s why I recommend staying on deck when it’s your turn in the trolling rotation.  Try it out at least once, you might learn something new!

Good Fishin’. Be Safe.”

-Captain Kenny Merrell

One of our passengers recently told me that hearing the “zing” of a troll strike is so exhilarating that she feels it is like winning the lottery!  Having discussed trolling with Captain Kenny, I agree.  It must be quite a thrill to hook a fish off our beautiful boat out in that big blue ocean. Hope you all get a chance to get your boots on deck for your trolling rotation on an upcoming Searcher trip!

Keep your “Ask A Captain!” questions coming! Remember, each individual who submits a question will be entered into a monthly drawing for a FREE tackle swag bag, courtesy of our generous sponsors. The next drawing is coming up soon – Aug. 31!


Got a question about tackle or gear, Searcher history, long-range sportfishing, or maybe Baja fishing spots?

Submit your question via email to with “Ask A Captain!” in the subject line. I’ll hunt down answers from our captains and post for all to see. Selected questions and answers will be posted every week on, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else anglers gather.

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