After the last column (News Messenger, Nov. 2), I figured I should expand on my trolling tips and talk some about the gear I use. These tips are mainly for trout, but can be modified for kokanee or land-locked salmon (the main difference is the offering on the business end).
For cool-weather trolling, most fish will hang out in the top 10 feet of the water column. This is my favorite time to fish, using the technique we call “long-lining” or “top-lining.” It’s very simple, really; just get your lines out away from the boat as far as possible, no down riggers or extra weight needed.
Trout will be boat shy, so a standard set back can be from 125 feet all the way to 200 feet back. I usually stay around 150 feet behind the boat.
If you have a line counter reel, it’s really helpful. Otherwise, just pull the line in 2-foot increments until you get where you want it. When using multiple rods, stagger the setbacks to avoid tangling the lines (make long, slow turns.)
For reels, it is important to use bait casting reels if possible, NOT a spinning reel!
The bait-casters allow the line to come off in a straight line where as the spinning reels will create a terrible line twist. I use mono line also, because I want to have some stretch in the line for the fish to fight. A stiff line will not flex and too many fish can get off with a jump or head shake.
Some guys are insistent on using braid to troll, which is OK if you are targeting stripers. For trout, I feel the lightest line you can use is the best. I like the 8-pound Maxima Green or the 10-pound Cajun Red.
For rods, I like at least 7-8-foot lengths, with a slow action. Setting the rods on the outside rod-holders will get the lines out of the boat wake. The slow action means the rods will bend in a long parabolic arc when a fish hits, and it’s very easy to see a fish strike.
The rods I use are Daiwa Heartland downrigger rods, Shimano Talora, or Okuma Celilo rods, all between 7-8-feet length and rated for 4-10-pound line.
When a fish hits your lure, try to resist the urge to set the hook; just pick up the rod and start reeling in. Let the long limber rods do the work.
Have the drag loose enough to let the bigger fish take out some line; don’t try to “horse” them in or they may come off. As they get closer to the boat, the fish will make a desperate attempt to shake the hook; this is when a lot of fish come off.
Have the net ready. Lower the net a foot or two below the surface and try to bring the fish straight into the boat. When the fish is over the net, scoop it up!