I’m a longline trolling fanatic. I’ve been doing it for nearly 6 years and in those years I’ve developed my own style. I advise my readers early on to develop their own. I’ve found that what works for me may not work for other fishermen. It took hours and hours of on the water practice for me to become confident enough to skip the live bait.
My belief is that if you present that soft plastic to enough active fish, sooner or later you’re going to get bit. I hunt schools of fish. I then try to figure out what will trigger the active fish. I feel and urgent need to mention the equipment I use in my presentation. In the next several paragraphs I will give you my spill on each.
Like I said earlier, I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the water perfecting my trolling technique. I’ve caught fish in all seasons. I firmly believe if you buy the right equipment up front, it will increase you catch rate tremendously.
I use B’n’M Rods exclusively. They have the perfect match of soft tip and backbone needed for crappie to hook themselves. Longlining don’t require much of a hook set. I tell my guide clients to not use a hard hook set. When you see the rod bending, the fish is already hooked. Putting a hard and long hook set generally pulls the bait out of the fish’s mouth.
I use a combination of B’n’M Bucks Graphite Jig Poles and Roger Gant Different Poles in my setup. I generally pull 2 – 16’ and 2 ‐ 12’ BGJP’s staggered on the side of my boat and 4 (8’ or 9’) Roger Gant Difference Poles from the back. I like the 9’ poles because it gives you a little more control over the fish while you’re reeling them in. Controlling how you swim the fish between the other lines is necessary to keep your lines free of tangles.
The Difference Rods have an excellent soft tip. It’s the tip that allows the fish to hold the bait with very little resistance causing you to get a deeper hook set. The fish practically swallow the bait before they know they’re hooked.
The 16’ and 12’ rods on the side work wonders when you make the wide sweeping turns. Also, they work great when I make my “Wildcat” moves. For you that don’t know about the Wildcat, it’s what I call my slow left turn, then a slow right turn, then slow down and speed up combination. This technique triggers lots of strikes on the side poles as well as the poles on the back.
I grew up fishing Driftmaster Rod Holders. I’ve used them for years. I’ve also grown to like the new SpyderLoc Rod holders. I use Driftmaster T‐500 Troll Master trolling bars on each side of the boat with the Pro Series rod holders. I have 3 holders on each side of the boat.
At the back of the boat I’ve gone to the SypderLoc holders. They’re so easy to adjust and they don’t require any wrenches. For all you guys with new boats and don’t want all those holes drilled, these holders have small footprint and can be easily removed. Did I mention they don’t need a single wrench?
Some of longlining buddies pour their own soft plastics, been there and tried that just too messy for me.
I prefer a Bobby Garland Stroll’R on Roadrunners. If you’ve read any of my earlier articles, I developed a depth chart. The Stroll’R comes in 48 different color combinations. I suggest you get a bunch of colors and let the fish tell you what they want.
I like the Original Road Runner Heads in sizes 1/32nd, 1/16th, 1/8th, and 1/4th. The head color can be white, chartreuse, pink, or red. I fish these in 1 or 2 jig setups. If I use two roadrunners, I generally space them between 4’ to 5’ apart. If I want to fish 2 different water columns, I put a heavier jig on the bottom. The front jig catches fish when they’re active, when they’re not it acts as a teaser.
MinnKota Trolling Motors have helped me perfect my trolling technique. With the introduction of their Terrova and i‐Pilot remote trolling, boat control is just too easy. The GPS powered AutoPilot navigation system controls my boat so I can focus on fishing. The Terrova has too many features to mention but two of my favorites are record / retrace routes and cruise control to keep my speed in windy conditions.
I would be wrong not to mention Minn Kota’s latest addition to their line of electric steer motors, the Ulterra. This thing will stow and deploy itself in and out of the water automatically using the i‐Pilot remote. The pitch line for this motor says, “Never touch your motor unless you want to high‐five it.”
As a writer, I get to test lots of marine electronics. Some are way beyond the budget of my weekend fishing audience. However Humminbird came to the rescue with the introduction of the Helix Series. They incorporated CHIRP technology. CHIRP uses long transmit pulses that sweep across bandwidths of frequencies that are then processed using advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to result in high resolution SONAR with increased target separation and reduced noise. Enhanced target separation allows anglers to clearly identify game fish and baitfish, while reduced noise offers clear, sharp SONAR images.
Another game changer is the i‐Pilot Link
Integrated GPS Trolling System enables your Humminbird fishfinder and Minn Kota trolling motor to communicate, delivering automatic boat control. From your Humminbird or the wireless Link remote (with full LCD screen), you have the power to find, store and revisit your most productive fishing spots and tracks. It’s less time positioning your boat. More time catching fish.
Humminbird’s 360 Imaging offers a detailed, 360‐degree view around your boat, enabling you to see areas virtually impossible to reach with other types of SONAR. Thanks to the rotating transducer, you’ll see fish, before they see you.
The Side and Down Imaging are amazing. 240 feet to the left and right allows you up to 480 feet of coverage with stunning detail. No wonder it was an ICAST 2015 New Product Showcase Winner.
I constantly get asked what equipment is needed to get setup for longline trolling. I’ve been totally honest with you as a reader. As with technique, you can make concessions here and there. However, if you want to start out right, follow my instructions. Buy the right equipment up front and you’re set for the long haul. Leave that live bait at the store and practice longline trolling until you build yourconfidence. It might just be the technique that produces that 3 pound crappie, if you don’t believe me, ask the boys from MCC what happened at Eagle Lake. Bernard, Magnolia Crappie Club