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Best Trolling Speed for Popular Fishes

When it comes to trolling, speed is probably the single most important aspect.

What trolling speed you should use depends on the type of fish you are trolling for and how fast they can go themselves.

There is no single “best trolling speed” because it depends on the species and conditions.

Trolling Speed Basics and Fundamentals

A lot of trolling motors begin with a trolling speed of 2.5 mph, which is the trolling speed for trolling in open water and trolling at night when there is no wind and it’s difficult to see fish.

If you run faster than this, the fish will be scared and they will go to different places.

As mentioned earlier, motor speeds vary depending on what kind of trolling fishing you’re doing. There is no correct trolling speed to use and trolling speeds will vary depending on the fishing conditions. 

The trolling speed you should use can be found in trolling speed guides, which contain trolling speed reviews for popular species of fish. Remember though, trolling speeds may change depending on where you are fishing as these trolling speeds tend to be averages or general trolling speeds.

Speed is just one of the features when it comes to picking a trolling motor.

Knots

Before we get into suggested speed considerations, we need to understand the lingo for trolling speed and that’s knots. Knots is a metric measurement of speed that is equivalent to 1.151 mph or 1.85 km/h. Instead of saying trolling speeds, trolling speed reviews will list it in knots for trolling speeds which are listed in kts (knots).

You might have trolling speed guides saying trolling speed in kts which is equivalent to the trolling speed in mph, so you’ll need to convert it. As a general rule of thumb, you can take your trolling speed and divide it by .68 to get the trolling speed in mph.

GPS Speed

Now that you know what trolling speed measures in, it’s important to understand trolling speeds are given via GPS trolling speed.

The trolling speed for GPS trolling is equivalent to the boat’s trolling motor prop turning at full throttle without any wind pushing the boat forward.

If the boat only moves because of the wind pushing it forward or if there is no wind and your trolling motor isn’t running, then your trolling speed will be slower than the trolling speed for GPS trolling indicated in your GPS trolling guide.

Speed Considerations

There are four main things to consider when adjusting trolling speed, and that’s the following:

  • Time of Year – trolling speed depends on the season because fish are slower at night and during cold temperatures.
  • Water Conditions – trolling speed also depends on what kind of water you are trolling in because trolling speeds will be faster when trolling in open water vs trolling in shallow or rough waters.
  • Wind Conditions – trolling speed depends on wind conditions because trolling speeds will be faster in no wind and calm conditions and trolling speeds slow down when trolling with a tailwind.
  • Type of Species – trolling speed depends on what kind of fish you are trolling for, because trolling speeds will be faster for deep-diving trolling lures and slower trolling speeds may need to be used for trolling shallow water.
  • How Fast Baits are Traveling – trolling speed also depends on how fast the trolling lures are traveling, which can cause trolling speeds to be faster or trolling speeds to need to be slower. We used to rely on our ears if we were going too slow or too fast based on the downrigger cables that made a musical noise when running in the water. However, there’s new technology known as the fish hawk speed. The fish hawk speed is a trolling speed indicator that indicates trolling speeds ranging from 1.2 mph to 25 mph, which can be plugged into your trolling motor or trolling battery for trolling speeds up to 40-50mph.

Trolling Speed Tips for Specific Species

Trolling Speed for Walleye

The suggested trolling speed for walleye is 1.2 to 2.4 mph for trolling or in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

For more in-depth information, check out our guide on how to troll for walleye.

Trolling Speed for Lake Trout

The suggested trolling speed for lake trout is 2.2 to 3.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

We also have a how-to guide on trolling trout which provides various fishing tips, and strategies. 

Trolling Speed for Brown Trout

The suggested trolling speed for brown trout is 2.2 to 3.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

Trolling Speed for Rainbow Trout

The suggested trolling speed for rainbow trout is 2.2 to 3.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

Trolling Speed for Tiger Trout

The suggested trolling speed for tiger trout is 2.2 to 3.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

Trolling Speed for Kokanee

The suggested trolling speed for Kokanee is 1.2 to 2.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

Trolling Speed for Coho and Chinook Salmon

The suggested trolling speed for Coho and Chinook Salmon is 2.2 to 3.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

Trolling Speed for Pike and Muskie

The suggested trolling speed for Pike and Muskie is 3.6 to 5 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

Trolling Speed for Crappie

The suggested trolling speed for Crappie is 1.8 to 2.4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

For more information, we’ve created the ultimate guide on crappie fishing.

Trolling Speed for Bass

The suggested trolling speed for Bass is 2 to 4 mph for trolling or trolling in deep waters where the depth is greater than 100 ft.

FAQ for Trolling Speed

How Fast is High-Speed Trolling?

20 knots is considered high speed for trolling.

Does Trolling Speed Affect Lure Depth?

Trolling speeds will also affect lure depth, trolling speeds that are too slow or trolling speeds that are too fast will cause lures to be less effective.

How Fast Should You Troll in the Ocean?

The trolling speed should be between 1.8 mph to 2.4 mph when trolling in the ocean.

Final Thoughts on Trolling Speed

Trolling speeds will depend on the depth of the water and what kind of fish you are trying to catch. Trolling speeds can be fast or slow depending on the condition, like no wind or calm conditions. Trolling speeds are faster when it is deep, less windy, and there are no waves.

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