Slow TrollingTrolling shallow and slow usually means a live bait of some type. Whether Pogies (menhaden shad), ballyhoo, or goggle eye, live bait needs to be able to swim a little. That means trolling as slowly as your engine will allow, often moving just enough to keep the bait behind the boat.
Live baits can be trolled on a free line behind the boat or on a downrigger. The same leader arrangement is necessary, but where the law permits, a treble hook on six inches of wire leader is attached to and dangling from the main hook. This “stinger” hook is often the hook that catches the fish, since live baits tend to kick out of the way of a predator’s attack. That treble catches a lot of fish!
For boats whose engines idle faster than the desired trolling speed, drift bags tied to the stern can slow the boat dramatically. However, when a fish is hooked, make sure to pull the bag or bags into the boat to avoid tangled lines and lost fish!
Kite FishingOne specialized live bait method that can be considered trolling is kite fishing. While not technically trolling in the true sense, it does involve keeping the boat in motion enough to keep the kite properly positioned behind the boat.
Kite fishing requires a special rod from which the kite is flown. A clip up the kite line holds the line from the actual fishing rod and the live bait is down on the surface under the kite. When a fish strikes, the fishing line is pulled from the kite and the fight is on! The kite acts like an outrigger in the sky, releasing the fishing line when the bait is taken.
The key to successful kite fishing is maneuvering the boat and the kite so that the live bait, hooked in the back under the dorsal fin, is in and out of the water, swimming right on the surface. Wind gusts and wave action will take the bait just out of the water, and the splashing and commotion made by the bait to get back under the water is a dinner bell!
Deep TrollingTrolling well under the surface can be accomplished in several ways. Some artificial lures are designed to dig down and run deep – sometimes as deep as thirty feet unassisted by weights. Wire line, with specialized fishing tackle, can take baits down in the water column. Perhaps the easiest and most common method of getting a bait down is a downrigger.
Wire line requires a rod designed to handle wire line, and really can’t be considered a “simple” trolling technique. Proper use of leaders, trolling weights, and shock leaders make this type of trolling more difficult than other methods.
Aside from deep running lures, the downrigger is the easiest way to get a bait down deep. Just as a kite rig acts as an outrigger in the sky, the downrigger acts as an outrigger under the water. The analogy refers to the fact that the fishing line is clipped to the downrigger and that the line is released when a fish strikes.
Rigged natural baits need to run true – meaning that they should not spin under the water when trolled. Spinning is unnatural and will actually prevent a fish from striking. So, paying particular attention to your bait and the hook placement can mean the difference between fish and no fish.