How To: Deploying A Spreader Bar

Properly deploying a spreader bar is essential to ensure optimal performance and to avoid tangles or issues while trolling. Here are some tips on letting out spreader bars: 

Start Slowly: Begin by letting out the spreader bar slowly. This gives you the opportunity to monitor and ensure that the teasers and the trailing lure are working properly and not tangling.

Check for Tangles: Early on as you let out the spreader bar, make sure that none of the teaser lines are twisted or tangled. They should flow freely from the bar.

Set Distance Gradually: Don’t just drop the spreader bar into the water and let it go. Gradually let it out to your desired distance.  It’s important to maintain constant tension on the line so that the bar is “swimming” as you let it out. If you’re using a reel with a lever drag, you can set it to a lighter drag setting while letting out the spreader bar. Once at the desired distance, you can then set the drag to your desired strike setting.

 This will avoid (2) Issues:

  • The constant tension will maintain “happy” swimming position of the squids behind the bar. If the bar is floating while you let it out, it creates the opportunity for the squids to tangle over the bar and get wound up.
  •  This gradual release can prevent sudden force which might cause a malfunction or twist in the setup, causing the bar to dig and tumble.

Make intermittent “Brake Checks”:  HOT TIP!  engage the drag in strike position for 3 to 5 seconds, allowing to the directional bar swim outwardly from the spread. I recommend doing these 2 or 3 times. The directional bar will reach its maximum “spreading distance” in the shortest amount of time using this method.

Monitor Rod Tip:

Watch the tip of the rod as you let out the spreader bar. A smooth, consistent motion is ideal. Any erratic motion might indicate a problem like a tangle, or a teaser caught in a prop wash.

Avoid Prop Wash:

Prop wash is the turbulence created by the boat’s propeller. Lures or teasers can sometimes get caught in this turbulence, which can cause them to not work effectively. Make sure the spreader bar is far enough behind the boat so it’s outside of the prop wash.

Be Ready to Adjust:

Conditions like current, speed, and wave height can affect the action of the spreader bar. Be prepared to adjust your setup to achieve the desired presentation. A few rules of thumb:

  1. Bars can swim faster and further out in calm seas.
  2. Bars will respond best to slower speed on rough conditions.
  3. Outriggers and T-Top rod position will result in wider spreads
  4. If trolling in heavy cross winds, bars will respond best to shorter distance behind boat.

Lastly, practice makes perfect. The more you deploy and retrieve your spreader bar, the more familiar you will become with its behavior, making the process smoother each time

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