Beginner's Guide to Trolling - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-10-2019, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Question Beginner's Guide to Trolling

Looking for a beginner's guide to trolling for Walleye (and maybe trout/steelhead) on the bigger lakes in PA, including Erie. I have done a lot of fishing but trolling is brand new to me. Any advice or tips is greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 12:00 PM
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Look on YouTube. There is a lot of info about Erie and Ontario. It seems those bigger bodies of water have patterns, especially seasonal patterns different than the smaller bodies of water inland.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 02:12 PM
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If you want to learn big water trolling, the #1 best thing you can do is to take a reputable charter trip during prime time out of Erie, Conneaut or the like and when you book, let the captain know you want this to be a "learning" trip. Many will be happy to oblige. Only problem is, the last couple of years, during prime time, your trip may be very short prior to boxing out so I would film your trip and take notes! Don't forget to tip your first mate!!!


You can quickly learn the ins and outs of riggers (least important for Erie walleye), dipsies, planers, leadcore, weighted jets, snap weights, etc. as well as speed, location and boat set-up.



For some off-season reading, get this to start:






Whoa, didn't notice the price on the book above until just now. You may be able to find the last (8th edition, I think) on ebay or something for a more reasonable price. Skip the book and book a charter........


What type of boat do you have?

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Last edited by justgrad25; 03-11-2019 at 02:14 PM.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 02:17 PM
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What experience trolling and boat setup/gear do you already have? If you halfway know what you are doing and already have some trolling gear and the right boat setup it ain't that hard or expensive. If you are totally new to it be prepared to open your wallet wide and I'm sure it is intimidating.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 04:33 PM
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Maybe this is a little off target, but it was invaluable to me many years ago.

I tied up with a publication called "FISHING FACTS MAGAZINE" to learn how to catch a fish. Over the next few decades the basics I learned on catching muti-species helped me to snowball the knowledge up to and including winning multiple Bass Tournaments, (all local buddy contests with my son as my partner)

Many of the articles in FF magazine dealt with tecniques for trolling multiple species as well, But the well written pieces did so in such a way to cause the reader to begin thinking for himself to understand WHY things were happening the way they do, thus learning.

Give a man a fish to feed him for a day....Teach him to catch fish to feed him for a lifetime.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info guys!

justgrad25, I was on an Erie walleye charter about 10 years ago and I asked the captain how he learned all the ins and outs of trolling. He actually said the book ďPrecision TrollingĒ and had a copy on board. However thatís a little more money than I want to spend on a book.

I am brand new to trolling and just bought a bigger boat (18í). From what I have been seeing on YouTube, you can be successful with just planer boards and dipsy divers with a 4 rod set up? Iím not sure because they probably make it look a lot easier than it is?

Other things Iím not sure about are trolling speed and lure depth. I know there are charts out there to help tell you how deep the lures are based upon your speed and the line counter (how far back the lures are) but how accurate are they?

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 10:29 PM
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Precsion trolling is a good book. I don't think it is in print anymore. I think you have to buy it on line as a download now. I fish Pymatuning with Daiwa sealine 47lc reels and find it is it is pretty accurate with the the line weight/diameter that is in the book. I never used dypsies or lead core since I fish the north end but I am thinking about playing with them on the south end this year.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MntnHntr View Post
Thanks for the info guys!

justgrad25, I was on an Erie walleye charter about 10 years ago and I asked the captain how he learned all the ins and outs of trolling. He actually said the book ďPrecision TrollingĒ and had a copy on board. However thatís a little more money than I want to spend on a book.

I am brand new to trolling and just bought a bigger boat (18í). From what I have been seeing on YouTube, you can be successful with just planer boards and dipsy divers with a 4 rod set up? Iím not sure because they probably make it look a lot easier than it is?

Other things Iím not sure about are trolling speed and lure depth. I know there are charts out there to help tell you how deep the lures are based upon your speed and the line counter (how far back the lures are) but how accurate are they?

18' boat, you should be able to fish 8 rods easy, tangle free and 10 wouldn't be a stretch as long as you set up your rod holders properly. Allowed 3 rods per person now. To get started, I'd get 3 gunnel mounted vertical rod holders and 2 robust horizontal rod holders installed on both sides of the boar. Vertical holders should be placed forward of the horizontal holders. Verticals are for planer board lines and horizontals are for dipsies. Get a nice bow mounted dual planer board mast and two good, wood planer boards. Mast should be as high as you can make it and still use it easily. (check out youtube for videos on fishing these) You can do inline planers too but I always liked the big boards, especially in the Erie chop.



Two manual riggers can be mounted in the future on your back corners for deep water fishing, steelies and/or spring lake trout.....But I wouldn't worry about them now unless you have $ burning a hole in your pocket.



(I can help anyone spend lots of $ on their boat outfitting it!!) PS - for big water trolling, safety is #1 so make sure you have a good, waterproof marine radio and 8' whip antenna, and possibly a hand held back-up, flares, signal flag, whistle, etc. and whatever else is required by the CG for Erie these days.



We used to have a 24' hard top and fished 12 rods (6 planers [3 ea. side], 4 dipises [2 ea. side] and 2 riggers) all day long.


For walleyes, speeds b/w 1.8 and 2.2 or so is prime but make slow, sweeping turns and take note if you get hits on the outside or inside lines. If outside lines are getting hit, fish a little faster. If inside lines are getting hit, fish a little slower. The slower you go though, the more junk fish you will get if they are mixed in with the eyes, esp. if you are fishing harnesses with worms.


Keep an eye on the fish finder and try to keep your baits a couple feet above where the walleye are getting marked. Typically, you fish a little shallower in the AM and then switch out things as the sun starts to rise and add weight to your lines, etc. Not always though.



Water is clear on Erie so fluoro leaders are recommended. Fish mono on rigger lines 12# to 20# and braid with loose drags on your other non-leadcore lines. I never got into lead core when I fished so I can't help you there. We always just added inline weights (1oz to 3 oz) or snap weights to get our baits down.



For dipsies, you might want to add a small rubber snubber to take up some of the impact/shock since your set-up is low stretch and you never know when a steelie will smack a dispsy line. I'd fish 20# braid on your dipsy lines with 20# fluoro, 5-6' leader behind the dipsy. When fishing 2 dispies per side, on one side, run one 3.5 and 1.5 setting and on the other, run 3 and 1 setting.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 09:41 AM
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We have a 17' boat outfitted with 2 gunwale mounted rod holders on each side that are fully adjustable (scotty). We then have 2 clamp on rod holders that mount to the transom. This allows us up to 6 rods which works fine for us. We usually have 2 guys, sometimes 3. You can use 2 rods/person in OH and 3 per in PA.

Inline planers work just fine on Erie. You just have to learn how to read them in the waves. We usually run either 2 planers per side + 2 dipsies out the back, or just 6 inline planers. We may get big boards some day but we do just fine with inlines.

We also have 2 transom mounted downriggers, but rarely ever use them.

Line counter reels are absolute must haves. You kinda get what you pay for when it comes to reels. Rods with trolling are less important. You need some backbone in a rod to pull inline planers, and a lot of backbone for dipsies.

We never use live bait anymore, it's just not necessary and we catch bigger fish using bigger baits.

Precision trolling is a solid book but it's not entirely necessary, you can find dive charts for a select few lures on google. Dipsies come with dive charts.

Lures we run a mix of reef runners, deep bandits, and deep bay rats. All 3 are pretty good. Out Western OH where the water is clearer, purple, chart, bright colors work well. As we work our way East into summer and farther out, natural smelt and shad imitations do better. We usually run spoons behind the dispies, sometimes sitckbaits.

Never buy one of a lure color. Erie eyes can be unusually color picky, if you only have one it's a near guarantee there it will be the one hot color that it's just all the eyes want to eat, and you better have 2 or 3 more to throw out there when they are being picky.

Early season out West the fish are often high. Catching fish 8-10 feet down in 25 ft of water is common. That was a real mindbender for a guy that grew up dragging jigs in the mud. There are no hard and fast rules though, some days the fish are deep. As you move East and start fishing deeper water you'll need to aid weight in the form of leadcore, inline, or clip in sinkers to get your lures deeper. By late July, August you are usually getting down 45-60 feet to get into the fish. This is where some guesswork comes into the depth equation. Taking detailed notes you'll start to figure it out. Another important factor is calibrating all your line counter reels...they are not perfectly accurate so you have to account for that.

Like Justgrad said, rely on your sonar. You'll learn to recognize what walleye vs. bait vs. white bass vs. drum look like on the sonar. And active walleye vs. passive walleye. Weather is huge on Erie. I've learned to just not waste my time on the bad days. Walleyes are so predictable what weather you are going to catch them. If you find a pod of active walleyes, stay on them. We only troll into the wind on very calm days. Most times when staying on fish we take passes through them downwind, then motor back up for another pass similar to drifting. This can be a real PIA deploying all the trolling gear for quarter mile passes, but its way more effective for fishing active pods of eyes.

Erie is a huge lake but can be a total clusterfest at times if you follow the crowds. You don't need to do that. We always get away and find our own fish. Enjoy these next 5 years, the fishing is absolutely incredible. We've always done well, now it's almost too easy. We limited out a couple times last year within an hour.

Above all stay safe. That lake can turn dangerous in a heartbeat on the nicest of days. We are blessed with these handheld computers that we can pull up radar in our palms, that is a godsend.

Last edited by elk yinzer; 03-12-2019 at 09:51 AM.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by justgrad25 View Post

For walleyes, speeds b/w 1.8 and 2.2 or so is prime but make slow, sweeping turns and take note if you get hits on the outside or inside lines. If outside lines are getting hit, fish a little faster. If inside lines are getting hit, fish a little slower. The slower you go though, the more junk fish you will get if they are mixed in with the eyes, esp. if you are fishing harnesses with worms.
This is great advice too. We always start out trolling "S" patterns to figure out what speed the fish want. General rule is slow early, we start around 1.5 SOG at ice out. Summer we are almost always over 2, often 2.5-3. But walleyes don't give a crap about rules and they just want what they want. Even when you are getting inside/outside hits, many days replicating that doesn't matter. I think it's the rise/fall, accel/deccel on the turns that can trigger a bite.

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Originally Posted by justgrad25 View Post
Water is clear on Erie so fluoro leaders are recommended. Fish mono on rigger lines 12# to 20# and braid with loose drags on your other non-leadcore lines. I never got into lead core when I fished so I can't help you there. We always just added inline weights (1oz to 3 oz) or snap weights to get our baits down.
You gotta try leadcore. Similar to turning, somedays it's just all the fish want. I really can't explain it, it just catches fish. It has to be a lure presentation thing. Of course with all the fish in the lake now, that's not crucial but a few years back when it was tougher, it really paid off. We always keep a few rods rigged with 5 colors of leadcore. In the summer you can add inline weights to that to get deeper.

Last edited by elk yinzer; 03-12-2019 at 10:05 AM.
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