Why your eyes are one of the most critical tools for successful trolling

With spring well underway across the country, many anglers are trolling for trout and salmon, but today’s tip applies to every situation you find yourself facing regardless of the species or season. 

The name of the trolling game is always—first and foremost—about depth control. Next, you need to find the optimal speed. Once you have sorted out these two critical elements and start catching fish, the fun part of the system shifts to duplicating and replicating what is working.

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If you’re using downriggers—probably the most precise depth-control tools—finding the optimal depth and then returning your lures to where they need to be is relatively easy. It’s much less so, however, when you’re using Dipsy Divers, Jet Divers, snap weights, keel weights, leadcore line, high density sinking fly lines, bottom bouncers and flat lines. Why? Because all of these trolling aids are extremely speed dependent. Speed up and they rise; slow down and they descend.

So, we use tools like the Precision Trolling app that tells us how much line to let out based on the dive curve of our lure, line-counter reels that let us monitor the length of line out and the speedometer on our chartplotter, so we can pinpoint and return to the best pace. 

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But there are two other tools— your eyes—that let anglers duplicate and replicate the optimal speed better than anything else, once we have sorted out the critical parameters. I rely on my eyes more than any other device or aid.

What I am watching, of course, is the bend of the rod. This bend is unique—like a fingerprint for the day—making it is so easy to return to the optimal trolling speed.  

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Fact of the matter is we spend so much time watching our rods as we troll, waiting for a fish to hit, that the specific shape, curve and bend gets ingrained into our brains.  So when the walleye, trout and salmon start hitting, it easy to duplicate, replicate and fine tune the speed with our eyes.  

Try it just once this season and here is a guarantee: you’ll smile and say …. eye do!