Trolling is a key technique for finding the fish. In fact, I always recommend that people start off trolling, especially in spots they are unfamiliar with.
Here are some tips for getting the most success on each trolling run:
1. Use Rod Holders – spend a little extra on these because they are so critical. I recommend rod holders that are permanently attached to a boat…no the cheap “velcro” style holders. Make sure are setup in a pattern that prevents tangling ofo your lines – as you will be trolling multiple lines from multiple rods obviously.
I recommend 2 rod holders at the front of the boat just behind the prow where the boat width is thickest on most models. Then at least 2 more on the rear section on either side of the motor.
2. Rod Holders – It is important to have your boat fitted out with dependable rod holders. Do not go with the cheap types that basically use Velcro to hold them in place. These can lead to a loss of rod and reel when a really large walleye takes your hook. Go with a rod holder that is permanently attached to your boat. It is also important to have them set up in a pattern that keeps the lines from tangling. Two of the holders should be placed at the front of the boat just behind the prow where the boat width is at its thickest. You also want to have to coming off the rear section of the boat from either side of the motor. This allows the front lines to be outside of the lines from the rear rods.
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3. Trolling Lures – Far and away the most productive trolling lure is the spinner.
These attract walleye like nothing else while you’re moving. You can also test hooking some live bait to your spinners. A spinner-livebait combo can work extremely well sometimes.
When it is warm, make sure to get your lures and baits deeper as that’s where walleye like to hang out in the heat. The bottom. To do this just add weight as needed.
I also recommend taking a large variety of crankbaits because they more closely mimic the baitfish walleye feed on naturally. (Like shiners.)
4. Live Bait – always try to use natural live bait found in the area you are fishing. Naturally occuring live minnows are almost always the best option.
You can also try worms and/or leeches, I have friends that get great results with both of these.
When hooking up minnows for trolling, hook them through the mouth – far enough behind the “lips” so the hook doesn’t come out easily… plus it allows minnows to move naturally through the water while you troll.
5. Trolling Motor – Use one if you can. Outboard motors are just too loud. Plus trolling motors give you the ability to hit good low trolling speeds and adjust from there. This is especially important if you are trolling with live bait.
6. Fishing Line – use a strong line that is still pretty thin and low visibility, like some of the “super lines” on the market today. I recommend a strength of 10-12 pound test.
Trolling is awesome, and a great way to do some exploratory fishing so you can dial in on where they are and what they are after.