Light Tackle Trolling Tips
1. Troll with the current (down current): This is the easiest way and will keep your lures at the desired depth. On the other hand, trolling uptide will create a water ski effect and raise your lures.
2. Lots of Turns: If you incorporate a series of turns into your trolling pattern, you can fish a pretty wide spectrum of the water column. The inside line on the turn will drop; the outside line on the turn will rise.
3. Braid Backing, Faster Drop: The thick diameter and heavy weight of lead core will result in a slow moving spool on the drop. This will greatly diminish the depth you’ll get to if you put the reel in free spook. I find that the 40lb. braid comes off the spook 10x faster, allowing for a faster drop than the heavier, yet slower moving, leadcore off the reel.
4. Short Rods: The shorter the rod, the lower the angle the line is to the water. The lower the angle, the less line you have exposed to wind drag and the less time it will take the lure to drop when taking the boat out of gear.
5. Slow Trolling Speed: The slower you go, the deeper you lures will drop. Ideal striper trolling speed is as slow as you can go, preferably under 3.5 knots through the water. Don’t worry about speed over ground while trolling with the tide.
6. Drop In and Out of Gear: As you see from my outfit above, I have accommodated for this technique, which I tend to utilize almost 100-percent of the time I troll for stripers. This technique puts together all the tactical tips from one through six. When you put them all together, you can hit targets up to 60-feet with the light outfits I am recommending. Not only can you reach the fish, you have a lot more control and sensitivity. Also, as importantly, you have the enjoyment of a skilled technique with fun, easy-to-use outfits. Here’s how this method works:
- Identify the Target: If I see a juicy fish target or a piece of structure that I like on the fish finder, I will count to five, then take the boat out of gear.
- Wait: I will then count 10 seconds of drop time for every 10-feet of depth, more if I am trolling against the tide. The goal here, regardless of the amount of time (other factors include lure weight and wind check) is to get the lures to the depth of the target.
- Engage: Once you feel confident that you are in the zone, put the boat back in gear. This is often when you will hook up.
- Tease: If the above method doesn’t work within 15 seconds, I repeat on a shorter count. This time, I will put the reel in free spool simultaneously. Once the reel is engaged, I will crank in 30-feet of line to simulate a spooked fish.