Crews that specialise in lure trolling really do treat it as a science. They experiment with various styles and sizes at different speeds in alternate positions to see what works best. There is no such thing as the optimum spread simply because it is something you constantly improve. Each lure has a specific position in the spread and is set up in a way that should entice a strike from every fish that is raised. Raising fish is one thing bites means results!
Typically I have found that lures with minimal action work best for tuna, while marlin definitely prefer active lures that smoke and splash. Remember a spread of lures should resemble a school of fish to the predators. As a standard rule most boats troll four or five lures in a spread, two from the outriggers, two from flat lines and one from the center rigger, on larger vessels.
There is certainly a trend amongst fisho’s to troll as many lures as they can, but in recent times I have found that fewer tends to best. Sure the more lures the more activity, but maybe too many lure make it hard for the fish to select a specific target? On Strikezone I sometimes run just two lures but rarely do more than four.
When chasing blue marlin I definitely keep the lures to a minimum. The biggest issue with blue marlin is they are powerhouses and if you have too much gear in the water then your going to waste too much time retrieving it all instead of chasing the fish. As the blue powers off over the horizon the last thing I have time for is to retrieve half a tackle shop of lures. However on the same note this isn't Gospel and with a switched on crew you can retrieve the gear quickly.
Alternately when chasing tuna multiple hook ups are what we want so more lures in the spread is better. I like to run four outfits. With this in mind I never run teasers because it is simply just another thing to pull in.
Based on four lures the basic pattern employed by most anglers is a ‘V’ pattern, with the outriggers at the back and the short/long corners inside. Personally I don’t think this pattern is too effective from trailerboats because of the white water caused by the outboard. As I result of years on the water I have modified my spread to resemble a rather warped ‘W’ that works on everything. What I have outlined below is flexible enough so it can be adapted to suite any trailerboat.