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Pro-Downrigger stand: Make a downrigger of your own design.

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How to Get Started Trolling for Fish

Trolling is suitable hobby for the entire family and is one of the most traditional forms of fishing. It has emerged in the last few decades to be the favorite hobby for many. You can do basic trolling with a rowboat and 1 to 4 rods at a time. The hobby of trolling has evolved with new equipment and trolling techniques. You can still do trolling with a rowing boat, but fishermen dedicated in this matter acquire boats better suitable for trolling. More advanced trolling can be done with slightly larger motorboats. For more lures, a rod holder and a planer need to be used to prevent lines from getting tangled together. You can purchase a motorized device to rewind the lures to make fishing more sensible for more than five lures. If the depth of a lure must be lowered several meters, a downrigger is required. It provides a trolling depth of tens of meters if needed. Typical trolling boats are open or HT boats of 4.5 to 6 meters. At the sea and on the largest lakes, various cabin boats are also used. In trolling boats where several rods are used at the same time, the use of rocket launchers and “rod racks” are necessary. In trolling boats planers are often used to enable the use of up to twenty lures at the same time. When fishing in deeper waters, the line-mounted diver or downrigger is used.

Trolling is traditionally associated as an adult hobby, which costs a lot. This is not really the case, as trolling is the right fishing method for everyone who has a boat and fishing rod. You can use very modest equipment to get started with the hobby. Trolling at it’s most basic can be done with a rowboat. The boat is either driven or rowed forward slowly and the lures are lowered about 5-80 meters behind the boat. You can do trolling with a single rod but the people who have done it longer usually do it with several rods (up to 15-20 rods at a time). In this case you should buy an arch fishing frame or a rocket launcher to ensure that the rods are securely held.

In trolling, it would be good to have sonar, planer, downrigger, rod holders and a decent water map or chartplotter. Base equipment for every troller also includes float equipment.

Trolling Speed & Bait

When using lures and baits the speed is up to 9 knots. You can do trolling with really slow speeds too when using rowing boat or kayak. The optimal speed varies with the time of the year, what kind of weather it is and between different fish species you are trying to fish.

Distance Behind Boat

Usually the distance is from 5 meters to 80 meters so around 15ft to 240ft.

Deep Trolling

Downrigger is a device that is used to get the lure to the desired depth. Using a downrigger to control the lures depth is easier then with a diver. In bigger boats an electric downrigger can be used. It takes the lures very deep, with a winch that lowers a bigger weight with a steel cable. As the fish hits the wobble, the line attached to the weight releases and the wearing down the fish can be done with the rod.

When the waters are warm and the fish are staying in deeper and cooler water layers, a downrigger is really handy device. It can be also used to fish accurately near the bottom. This technique requires the use of sonar that tells accurately the depth of the water.

Why Trolling Attracts Fish

Dragging lures or baits behind a moving boat makes them look like they are alive to the fish you are trying to catch. Lures and baits are designed to look intriguing to the fish. Jigging the rods can boost your hook-up rate. Manual jigging can be used to increase fish-attracting action to the lures and baits. Making turns with the boat also can boost your hook-up rate. Turns slow or speed up the boat and cause the lines to change depth momentarily.

Trolling Rods and Reels

Trolling rods are just for tiring the fish. For this reason average glass fiber or carbon fiber blends are quite usable. Good length for the rod is 6 to 8 feet. If the rod is longer it is hard to control when bringing in the fish and using a hand net to lift the fish to the boat.

When trolling the only proper option for a reel is bait-casting reel with a proper brake and drag. Good bait-casting reels require continuous maintenance, so make sure you learn how to keep good care of the reels.

What Type of Trolling Lure Should I Use?

The most common lures are the wobbles and spoons. Most commonly the lure size is 8-15 cm. Trolling lures are visually attractive to the fish and they move in water in a way that intrigues fish. Lures are made to look and behave like fish that is either dying, injured or fast moving.

How Far Astern Should I Tow The Lure?

Basic rules are: Clear and calm weather, long lines, rainy and windy shorter lines. Active fish, shorter lines, passive fish, longer lines. Big boat, longer lines, small boat shorter lines. Usually the distance is from 5 meters to 80 meters so around 15ft to 240ft.

Fishing on a wide area

When trolling on a wider area, you can use planers. On a larger planer you can use a mast to combine lines of several rods, while the small planer connects to a line of a single rod. When using planers, you can use several rods and fish on a wider area. The width of the fished area is many times greater than the length of the rod used.

Planer board is a really useful tool in trolling. It makes it possible to spread the trolling area towards the sides and thus increases the likelihood of catching fish. Planer board is usually made of aluminum or plastic and it has two “skis”. It floats on the water and pulls itself to the side of the boat. The heads of the board’s skis are beveled, so each side of the boat needs their own board. It is best to use planer boards on both sides of the boat, otherwise steering the boat is really difficult as the board pulls the boat in its own direction. The board is connected to a boat with a planer line, it can be a slippery string or a thick monofilament line. The main thing is that it will withstand tough pull and wear, and it is slippery at the surface. The planer line is wound on a planer reel that can be attached to a boat’s targa bar or on a ht boat to the side of the cabin. The line goes from the reel to the planer board via a planer mast’s pulley. With an open boat, the targa bar is really useful on planer trolling. Because the planer boards are swimming on the side of the boat, they need to clearly marked with flags.

When the planer board is lowered next to the boat, the desired amount of line is lowered off the rod. After that the line is attached to a planer release, which is attached to a planer line with a link on the planer release. When you release line from the rod, the planer release slides towards the planer board. The distance of the planer board from the boat affects how many rods with planer releases can be used with a single planer board. The distance between the releases in the planer line should be four to five meters in order to avoid line tangles. If there is a targa bar on the boat, the rods must be set so that the rod released the furthest must be in the middle and the next ones placed one by one towards the targa bars outer edge.

When the fish strikes the lure attached to the planer board, the line breaks off from the planer release. As the boat moves forward and the fish pulls backwards, the fish can be reeled in from the aft of the boat. The other rods used in the same planer board are not affected and keep on luring the fish. If the planer board had three rods and the middle one catches a fish, the rod next to it can be moved to the middle spot by giving more line from rod which enables the release to slide further. The rod that caught something is lowered in to the closest spot from the edge. This way lures switch places every time line is released from the planar release from a fish/trash or lure hits the bottom. If the fish or trash caught is not large enough to release the planar release, you can release it with a fast tug from the rod. After the tug you wait a while for the line to run to aft of the boat. This is done to avoid tangling with the other rods. Small fish or thrash is easy to spot from the rods tip. If the tip bends more then the other rods or the tip jerks a bit, you can check the rod and put it back in the way mentioned before.

Drag of the planer board is usually really strong. When you are done trolling, you reel in all the rods from the water. The drag is easiest to counter by driving the boat towards the planer board and then lift the planer board in to the boat.

The number of rods used is usually around 16 to 20, depending on what fish you are trying to get.

First of all: The more rods in water at the same time, the better the chance of catching fish. Planar boards make this possible.

Secondly: Many species of fish are really sensitive. They get spooked by the sound of the engine, which is especially true when fishing in under 13 meters deep clear water and even more true when the fish is not really active. The use of planer boards helps on this issue. With planer board you can spread the lures away from the boat instead of being right next to the boat.

If you are using two planer boards, one on each side, and each having at least five rods and the furthest lures 45 meters away from the sides, the width of the fishing area is 90 meters. And with this kind of setup the area of fishing is truly remarkable, when you drive for few dozen kilometers!

In addition to the part mentioned above you can use different kinds of lures at the same time, like wobblers and spoons or use dead fish as a bait. Baits can be of the same size and of the same color or different size and different colors and can be pulled at different points. Obviously, if you are close to catch of a sufficient size, you have the real chances of getting it caught.

Small planar board

Small planar boards are used to get a single line away from the side of the boat. This increases the size of the fishable area and makes the chance of catching fish more likely. Small planar boards increase the number of rods you can use from two to four or more. You get two rods on each side as normal and in addition you get two more with use of planer boards. You can more then one small planer board on each side but it requires some practise.