Versatility Increases Catch Rates

Even though you think it’s going to be another fishing season just like the last several, you still look for an edge by attending your favorite fishing show: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show; or by paging through your favorite fishing publication: “On Wisconsin Outdoors.” That tells me you’re harboring hope of catching more fish in 2015.  

The “EDGE” gained from this article will help you become versatile while trolling.

I was introduced to trolling on Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc, and in the years that followed I continued to morph knowledge gained then with the things I’ve learned since.

For example, there was a time when my mentors strictly pulled leadcore while trolling. Several seasons later, we now use various weight options and long line trolling methods instead of leadcore line.

Why? Versatility. If you are ready to shift on the fly, chances are you will.

Leadcore prohibits versatility. In a single night of trolling on LBdN, I will bounce between shallow weeds, deep humps, tapering points and open water basins without blinking an eye. Ever try trolling shallow weeds with leadcore?

All that bouncing around is made possible by being versatile and limiting the amount of gear you have in the boat. For me that gear includes line-counter reels on limber rods loaded with 10-pound monofilament line. To increase the versatility of that setup I add planner boards and KFin Quick-Release Trolling Weights.

The KFin trolling weights accomplish two things. First, I can use the same combo trolling shallow weeds or deep basins without dedicating separate combos to leadcore. Second, KFin weights offer several options that maximize versatility.

Structure on any body of water fall into four categories: shallow reefs, deep reefs, tapering points, and open water basins. When you group structure this way, you maximize the efficiency of each trolling pass by keeping baits in a productive zone as long as possible.

Shallow, weed-covered reefs require only planner boards or long lines to troll successfully. Shallow diving stick baits work perfectly pulled in the upper water column between the weed tops and surface.

Deeper reefs and tapering points require boards, shallow diving stick baits, and various quick-release trolling weights. Depending on the trolling pass you make, choose the appropriate

weight. Keep things simple by using the same distances between bait/weight and weight/board, changing only the size of the weight. For example, 40 feet stick bait to weight, then 40 feet weight to board.

The final structure grouping, open water basin or deep flats, potentially presents your longest trolling passes. Here you can set up, sit back, and concentrate on the bite. However, you’re not just fishing the bottom.

When initially trying to locate active fish in deep water, cover the entire water column. Your trolling pass should have baits wobbling behind quick-release weights at as many depths as possible. I don’t care if my locator reads 32 feet; I will have baits running at 1.5 miles per hour at roughly 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, and 28 feet of water. Let the fish tell you where they are eating. When you make contact with active fish, match the productive set up.

If you didn’t notice, the quick-release trolling weights eliminate switching out your shallow diving stickbaits for the medium and deep divers as you shift from spot to spot. Also, if you’re in deep water and feeding walleyes are up high, you didn’t miss the action pulling mud-scratching leadcore. All you had to do was switch your versatile KFin trolling weight to a lighter option on your monofilament line.

My Pastor says, “There isn’t anything wrong with nothing wrong.” Well…  there is nothing wrong with being versatile either.


John Lindeman
Owner, Kingdom Fishing Innovations
Booth 944 @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sport Show
Contributing writer for On Wisconsin Outdoors