Vinyl vs. Rubber Trolling Lure Skirts for Fishing Blue Marlin

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Instructor: Kevin Hibbard

Discover the art of choosing between vinyl and rubber trolling lure skirts for blue marlin fishing. Captain Kevin Hibbard shares his invaluable insights from Kona, Hawaii, guiding you to make informed decisions based on lure type, sea conditions, and marlin behavior, enhancing your fishing success and experience.

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Table Summary:

  • Vinyl Lure Skirts: Lighter and less bulky, ideal for pusher lures to create a better smoke trail. Easier to rig on larger lures. Less durable in waters with toothy predators.
  • Rubber Lure Skirts: Thicker and heavier, perfect for bullet lures to keep the lure submerged and produce a "black smoke" trail. Better performance in rough waters but less durable and prone to storage issues.
  • Choosing Based on Sea Conditions: Rubber skirts swim well in rough seas, while vinyl skirts excel in calm conditions.
  • Lure Rigging Tips: Hook position and washing lures post-use are crucial for maintaining effectiveness.

Fishing for blue marlin is the pinnacle of big game fishing, requiring not only skill and patience but also the right tackle and rigs. Among the most critical components of a blue marlin fisherman's arsenal are the trolling lures, specifically their skirts, which play a pivotal role in attracting fish to your spread. If your trolling lures don't swim right, because of bad rigging, you ain't catching shit. The debate between using vinyl vs. rubber lure skirts for fishing marlin has been ongoing, with each material offering distinct advantages and drawbacks. In this video, we delve into the insights of Captain Kevin Hibbard, a legendary big game fisherman from Kona, Hawaii, who has perfected the art of heavy tackle fishing for blue marlin. Through his decades of experience, Captain Hibbard provides invaluable advice on choosing the best trolling lures and skirt materials for targeting marlin fish, especially in the unique conditions of Kona's waters.

Insights from Captain Kevin Hibbard

Captain Kevin Hibbard's expertise in blue marlin fishing is rooted in his years of experience fishing the calm seas of Kona, Hawaii and every other hot destination in the world. His choice between vinyl and rubber trolling lure skirts is influenced by sea conditions, the type of lure head, and the desired action of the lure in water.

Vinyl Skirts for Blue Marlin Lures

Vinyl skirts, according to Captain Hibbard, are best suited for pusher-style lures. These lures are designed to swim up to the surface, gulp air, and then dive back down, releasing air bubbles in the form of white smoke. The lightweight and less bulky nature of vinyl skirts facilitate this unique swimming action, creating an enticing smoke trail that mimics the movements of prey sought by blue marlin. Vinyl skirts also offer ease of rigging, especially on larger lures, making them a preferred choice for anglers targeting marlin with pusher lures in calm sea conditions, such as those often found in Kona.

Rubber Skirts for Durability in Rough Waters

Conversely, rubber lure skirts are the go-to option for bullet-shaped lures. Their thicker and heavier composition helps keep the lure just below the surface, producing a distinctive "black smoke" trail that resembles the escape effort of a baitfish. This quality makes rubber skirts particularly effective in rough waters, where keeping the lure submerged and stable is challenging. Despite their advantages in turbulent conditions, rubber skirts suffer from durability issues, particularly in regions inhabited by toothy predators like wahoo, which can quickly damage the skirts. Additionally, rubber skirts can become sticky and degrade over time, presenting storage challenges.

Expert Rigging Advice

Beyond the material choice, Captain Hibbard emphasizes the importance of proper lure rigging. The position of the hook, whether up or down, should complement the lure head shape and the natural curvature of the monofilament leader material. This attention to detail ensures optimal lure performance and increases the chances of attracting blue marlin. Moreover, Captain Hibbard advocates for meticulous washing of lures after use, a simple yet critical step in maintaining their effectiveness for future outings.


The debate between vinyl and rubber trolling lure skirts for fishing blue marlin is nuanced, with each material serving specific purposes based on the fishing conditions and lure type. Captain Kevin Hibbard's insights shed light on making informed choices that cater to the dynamic nature of marlin fishing. Whether opting for the lightweight flexibility of vinyl skirts for pusher lures in calm seas or the durable heaviness of rubber skirts for bullet lures in rough waters, the wisdom shared by a seasoned fisherman like Captain Hibbard can significantly enhance the fishing experience and success rates. As we continue to explore the depths of marlin fishing, the knowledge and techniques passed down from experts like Captain Hibbard remain invaluable, guiding anglers toward making smarter, more aware decisions on the water.

For those keen on furthering their marlin fishing skills, exploring educational content on this platform like can provide a wealth of knowledge, from detailed tutorials to expert insights into the world of sport fishing.

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Kevin Hibbard

Captain Kevin Hibbard, a renowned blue marlin fishing expert, has a deep connection to the ocean and has honed his skills in heavy tackle and lure fishing. He has honed his knowledge and techniques from the best captains in the business, including Henry Chee and George Parker. Hibbard's approach to fishing is simple, focused, and trusting, ensuring the best lures are chosen for the ocean's conditions. His dedication to the craft and his passion for the ocean's giants make him a sought-after fishing expert.

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