Trolling Equipment

Through trial and error I have found what equipment works for the ways that I fish taking into account that I don't have an unlimited budget.

To start off, I primarily fish from Toledo to Lorain and I exclusively troll. Early and late in the season I fish a lot of crankbaits and am very comfortable with them. After cranks I fish harnesses quite a bit with inline weights, snap weights, jet divers or bottom bouncers. I do fish spoons, but I would put dipsys and spoons lower on my confidence list, just becuase I haven't fished them as much as a lot of you.

I fish out of a 21' boat and mostly use inline boards for trolling multiple rods. I use offshore boards with the "snapper" front clip to better grip superlines. Other than when I fish dipsys I primarily run 8' fiberglass rods. I have used a few different brands, but my favorite is Cabela's Whuppin sticks. They have a lot of backbone but are still fairly sensitive. They have a cork handle and come with a 10 year warranty, but are still only $25. There are better rods out there, but these are the best I've found for the price, especially with the warranty. For reels I am now running Okuma Catalinas (Size 20). They have metal frames, infinite anti-reverse, and a very smooth drag. They generally are in the $90 range, but compare favorably with reels that cost well over $100. As far as line I have switched over to Cabela's RipCord Si braid. On my crankbait rods I use the 15 pound test, 4 pound diameter. For dipsys I run 30 pound test. I used to run all Fireline, which worked fine for me, but I got tired of how it starts splitting into its individual fibers the longer you run it. It seemed like I was always cutting a few feet off to get to good line. The ripcord lasts longer and handles very well for a braid.

Towards the end of last year I started experimenting with leaders. I used to always use leaders, then I quit using them at all, now I'm back to using them again. I generally run 8 to 10' fluorocarbon leaders when I'm fishing crankbaits. I use 20 pound test and tie directly to my braid using a double uni-knot. It took me a while to muster up the confidence to tie line directly to line (instead of using a barrel swivel), but the double uni-knot really does work. The advantage is that you can reel the knot right through your guides, allowing longer leader lengths. With a barrel swivel you are stuck with the entire leader length below your rod tip, which can be limiting if you want long leaders. I'm not sure if I buy the fact the fluorocarbon is invisible. If it is, then great, but I really like the fluorocarbon for how hard it is. It seems to be more fray resistant than standard mono, but still gives you a built in shock absorber even with leaders as short as 8'. It may not seem like it would matter, but with no stretch braid you can use any small amount of give that you can get.

That pretty well describes my rod-reel-line set-ups. For rod holders I use Scotty power locks with their 8.5" extensions. The extensions help get your rods up high and make the whole process of setting rods and picking them up easier. I have the rod holders mounted in Pursuit metal tracks. The holder bases are mounted on metal plates that slide in the track allowing you to remove the bases or change their location. I'm very happy with both the holders and the tracks.

As far as crankbaits I primarily run Reef Runner, Rapala and Smithwick products. Reef Runners are my favorites. I run their Reef Runners (the deep diver), Ripsticks, Little Rippers (shallow and deep models), and the new Rip Shad. The 400 series rip shad looks promising. I think that it will be a great bait this summer. The rapala models that I run are Husky Jerks, deep husky jerks, deep tail dancers and shad raps. Deep huskys caught a lot of my fish last year and a deep tail dancer landed the biggest fish from last season. The two Smithwick models that I run are the rogue and deep rogue.

As addicted as I am to crankbait color schemes I honestly don't believe that color is a life and death situation. I would rather be running the right model and size at the right depth with the wrong color, compared to having the right color at the wrong depth. That being said, of course of I have my favorites that I have confidence in. In the spring I tend towards white color schemes like wonderbread, eriedescent, mooneye minnow and other similar colors (for reef runners). During the summer a few others that I won't leave the dock without include (but of course aren't limited to) tennessee shad, purple demon, monkey puke, fluorescent pink, clown, and gold clown. In the fall shad colors such as blue hawaiian, purple prism, blue/silver, and black/silver usually do well.

Take all of the above information for what it is worth. That's the equipment that I use and should only be used as a guideline if you're looking for suggestions.

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