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Human Trolling

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jun 9, 2004
This is usually the techniqe me and my peeps use to find good spearing spots when we are out of ideas. Just look for a good-looking area and drag ourselves behind the boat surveying the terrain. It often leads to some good spots or just a random fish we happen to pass by.

Does anyone one else on here usually do this? Is this dangerous? are u presenting yourself as a human shark lure? Has there ever been any attacks? You can't really see behind u and if u look all u see is bubbles.
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Well . . . I wouldn't do that around the Channel Islands here or off Cape Town, RSA . . . :duh :D
Towing & sledding(using a sled to go up & down as you are being towed) are great ways of explring new terrain. I have done so on several occasions. Regarding not being able to look around, if you use a sled, you can dip down for periods of time & can look around 360. A sled can be as simple as a sheet of rigid wood or plastic tied to the rope that you can angle down or up to control your diving angle.

One friend refuses to tow me as he heard of someone being attacked by a shark. It may be heresay since I've never seen any documentation of it. For spearfishing competitions, a lot of divers use towing/sleds to scout grounds in relatively clear waters.

Anytime you're in the water, you're in risk of shark attacks. I don't particularly think it'll draw sharks... but as Oldsarge says, I wouldn't do it around Channel Islands, Cape Town, or any other places that house Great Whites!
towing is a very common practice in the keys and miami area. it works really good when fish are moving or when searching for lobster. we are yet to have a problem but remember to use a good amount of rope and have a competent driver at the helm. otherwise it should be pretty effective at locationg fish if things are slow.
We did it just last night and a couple of the divers found a 15hp outboard motor!

We used the little sleds that you can get from GLOBAL.

Many, many hours towing off the dive platform and more than a few with a sled. Never had any problem. Once a porpoise came up touching distance from me while on a sled, almost fell off when I saw him.

Human Trolling - Sled design?

Does anyone have a design for a tow-sled that I can build? I have some ideas, but if anyone has built a sled and tested it, why re-invent the wheel?

Questions: Dive plane used or just a flat board? Best entry shape? Any flotation needed? Optimum length of tow rope? Optimum length and width? Attachment points and type? Marine ply for material? etc..

We will use it around the Loreto area in the Sea of Cortez... many, many miles of reefs to explore. PS: This is Zen Spearo Nirvana.
Just so long as you don't do it at night and troll up some Humbolts!

Just curious as to WHY you'd want to do that?

The modern fish-finder/echo-sounder, will do an even better job of showing you the terrain below the boat. Most units will be able to show you wether the bottom is reef, rock, sand, mud, shingle, etc. The advantage of using your echo-sounder is that you can cover a larger area very quickly. Pulling some-one behind the boat would have to be done at very slow speed, so you wouldn't be able to cover alot of ground.

In my country this technique is called "trainetta" or "paperino" , and is widely practiced, but yet considered very unsporty, as well as using an UW scooter: general opinion is that boat or scooter trolling makes unfair and unloyal your duel vs. the fish.
However, sporty and unsporty are not universal categories if you go from place to place. For us the trolling is unloyal because of the peculiar behaviour of our mediterranean fish. When scared by noise and vibration they tend (or at least they had this tendence in the past) to run hiding into the first hole they find. So for the trolling spearo it becomes too easy to watch them hiding and shoot them into the hole with no big difficulty.
But in Miami where you live, you certainly have different fish, with different behaviour, so I have nothing to argue with your trolling. The place you go, the ethics you find. And....sharks!
Have fun,
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i have a 3.5m inflatable with a 20hp on the back how would i attach a rope so it doesnt get caught up in the prop? and would a old water ski handle do? do you carry a speargun with aswell?
Yeah, it does sound kinda interesting... i wouldnt mind a little more info on how it works. Not saying that i'll go out and try it, i just mean that this is something that i would never have even considered possible. I presume i must be looking at it in the wrong way or something :p

People down in the Cape drag boogie boards or large pieces of rubber cut out in the shape of seals, behind their boats in an effort to showcase our big guys, It's the one sure way to attract a great white without using chum!
Sarge & Lenny: Not too many sharks here these days, very rare to see a big tiger or mako, and never right near the shore. We are scouting only reefs, this is not a blue-water thing. We HOPE our trolling idea does not turn into play-time for Mr Gray Suit.

Miles: The fish-finder does tell you alot, but it doesn't tell you everything... some areas are "fishy", others are not. Eyes-on is the best verification of terrain.

Spaghetti: We will not hunt from the tow-sled... we are only scouting out terrain. Good structure and "fishy" spots can only be verified by seeing them. We spend lots of time looking for good new spots. Surface features do not always tell you what lies under the water (though it is usually a good indicator). By using a tow sled, we can cover 4 or 5 miles of coast in a day. When we see a good area, we will mark in on GPS for later return to hunt.

Spearheads: Woohoo!!! That's what I'm talkin' about. That looks like fun!!! Much simpler than anything I had envisioned, much more maneuverable. Not a "sled" but a "wing".

A few things... need to be able to hold on with only one hand so we can clear if necessary for deeper areas... also, this looks like it might get fatiguing fairly quickly... how to relieve fatigue? harness behind the wing?

Thanks to all of you guys... great stuff.
... are u presenting yourself as a human shark lure? ...
Reminds me of the image portinfer posted a while back of a kayak attacked by a shark:
(No wonder the South African's love those red head lures for catching predatory fish!).

Spearheads - under-waterskiing!
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sounds fun, i wouldnt see too much danger in it.. but you never know. just keep in somewhat shallow and i think youll be fine ;)
The technique we use near Cancun is the tie a rope at the bow goes down each side of the boat to about the halfway point. At the end of the rope on each side, we tie a loop handle. This way, one snorkler can be towed on each side of the boat. We've never had any problems bumping up against the side at the speeds we were towing. We covered a lot of territory and found some conch.
There was a clip from on old home movie on a program about the Raj a week or so ago of a bloke being pulled behind a motorboat. It looked like he was holding onto a short plank or piece of plywood about twice as long as a child's swing seat, secured at either end, which he was planing on the surface of the water. ("Ain't nothing new under the sun, and the moon, the stars" - Van the man)
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