Your Guide To Hooking Linesides On The Troll…
Written By: Cal Kellogg, September 21, 2013 Species: Stripers,
In days gone by, the typical Delta striper troller used a short stiff “meat stick” rod teamed with heavy 25 to 30 pound monofilament. This rig was tipped with a spreader rig. A large minnow plug was rigged on the top of the spreader and a leadhead jig worked off the bottom of the spreader.
Now while this tackle arrangement was certainly effective, it greatly muffled the fight of all but the largest bass. Today light rods, braided lines and single lures are in vogue.
Not only are these rigs effective, but they make the fishing fun even if the bass are not huge. My favorite trolling rig consists of an 8 foot Lamiglas Mark Wilson trolling rod topped with an Abu Garcia line counter reel spooled with 30 pound braided line.
Stripers might hit a variety of different trolled lures, yet you can limit your lure selection to two different models without hurting your success rate. For shallow work in water that is 6 to 9 feet deep, a shallow running minnow plug like a 5.25 inch Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow work great. At times when it is necessary to work deeper water, say from 12 to 16 feet deep a deep diving Yo-Zuri Crystal minnow is the choice of most anglers.
Deep diving Rebels will also work, but the knock on Rebels is that they often don’t run true out of the box and it is up to you to upgrade the poor quality hooks.
In recent years plugs from P-Line have been embraced by Delta trollers. The shallow runner offered by P-Line is the Angry Eye, while the deep running version is known as the Predator.
Yo-Zuris run true and come with strong high quality hooks. In terms of color you’ll want plugs in red head/white body, rainbow trout and chartreuse initially. You can add more colors as you gain more experience, but in reality these tried and true colors will catch fish 90% of the time. There are some experienced Delta trollers that don’t believe color makes any difference at all.
A unique aspect of Delta trolling is the addition of a 6 inch plastic worm to the back of your minnow plugs. The worm most often used is a white Trick Worm, but other brands and colors of worms will work. The worm adds vibration, action and size to your plug.
So how do you use these lures and tackle to troll up a mess of stripers? Well let’s begin by looking at a couple common mistakes anglers make. First of all most anglers that are new to trolling Delta waters tend to work water that is too deep and they usually troll too slowly.
Stripers are aggressive hunters that actively patrol shoreline structure in search of prey. When you begin a day of trolling you want to start out working shallow water tight to weed beds, tules, rip rap, snags and irrigation pipes. Ideally you want to seek out water that is about 8 feet deep.
For this shallow water work your trolling speed and the distance you put the plug behind the boat is critical. You want to be moving between 3.5 and 5 miles per hour and you want the lure 140 feet behind the boat. This combination of speed and backdrop will put a shallow runner just above the bottom in 8 feet of water.
If you fail to hook up in shallow water or are marking fish in deeper water, it is time to switch over to a deep running Yo-Zuri. For this work you’ll want to shorten your line to about 100 feet and slow your speed to about 3 miles per hour. Stripers will still hit a fast moving plug in deep water, but the large lip and action of deep divers doesn’t allow them to run well at higher speeds.
The best time to troll Delta waters is when tidal flow is minimal. This means during the times when the tide is changing and on days that feature smaller tides. Minimal tidal flow translates to clear water and clear water is a trollers best friend.
Generally to find bass while trolling you’ll have to cover some ground, but a mistake a lot of trollers make is to keep on covering ground even after they get hit or land a fish. When you hook a bass, don’t keep covering new ground, circle back and hit the area where the strike came again. Stripers are school fish. I’ve been on trips were 30 or more fish were hooked while trolling a single stretch of bank that was little more than 200 yards long.
As a final bit of advice, I believe every Delta troller should have a good lip gripper and a needle nose pliers aboard. Minnow plugs have lots of hooks and stripers like to thrash. I know a lot of guys that have been hooked in the hand or arm, but hooked stripers….Ouch!