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Jig trolling

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Fifteen years ago I went on a drive-in trip to Canada with my neighbor Otto Lehrer (Product Specialist at Cabela's Retail) We were also with Otto's long time fishing buddy, Steve Chadwick. We were going to their favorite, go-every-year lake. On the way up we talked of the fishing that included walleyes, northern, small mouth, and trout. Listening and gathering information from them, I figured mostly it was to be a jig bite. All the related stories being told were of getting them on jigs. Jigging had long been a favorite tactic of mine too, so... I figured I was going to be home free!
When we arrived and hit the water, it was not too many hours before I noticed that Steve (who was at the helm) never took his foot off the trolling motor. We were moving constantly, and about the same speed. We were trolling. Otto and Steve were using jigs rigged with chartreuse plastic tails and tipped with minnows. I tried a jig but soon took it off as I had trouble working the bottom with the boat moving. I could not fish a jig effectively because I was hung up most of the time. Otherwise, I was looking for the bottom with my jig the rest of the time. Lots of structure made finding the bottom and keeping contact with it tough, in a moving boat. For those first hours, I trolled baits like raps, rattle traps, and weight forward spinners. I took some fish, but nothing like Otto and Steve. They both were taking two to my one, as they continued using jigs.
Finally, I mentioned that it would be a real treat to stop the boat and work a rock-pile! Suggesting that we might try sitting still for a change. Well, the sitting still lasted about five minutes and I did take a fish, but soon we were back on the move! I did not get my way for long. Why didn’t these guys ever stop and fish? I found out why by the end of the day. As the sun got lower, the fishing got better and better. One of these two guys had a fish on all the time, by trolling jigs. I finally gave in and went back to the jig. And, I started getting some fish. Night fell and we headed in for eats and sleep, in order to get that early rise. The next morning was the same agenda of trolling jigs. By midday, I was a master at this! I was catching just as many fish as Otto and Steve were... by trolling jigs.

This was the ticket to getting more fish.... You had to keep the bait up off the bottom and keep it moving. It was one of those trips where you had to learn or die! I learned. And I am still using the technique.

Here is how jig-trolling works. You want to match the size of the jig head you choose to the speed of the trolling or kicker motor. Adjust your speed so that you can reach bottom at a 45 degree angle. The slower you go, the smaller jig head you can use. And the faster you go, you need a bigger jig. You can go uo to three miles per hour and be trolling up to 1 oz. jigs before you exceed this 45 degree angle, depending on your depth. This seems like a lot of weight, however by the time you dress the jig with a tail and a minnow you’ll add a lot of resistance. Resistance in the water forces the jig further back, increasing the angle.

The trick I have learned is not to drag your jig on the bottom. In fact you are not near the bottom at all and remain four to five feet up. Let out enough line so that you can sweep your rod backward, drop it to the water level and touch the bottom with your jig. But, you must touch only when you sweep back! You do not need to touch-lift-touch-lift at all. In fact you only go down once in a great while to see how close you are to bottom. Checking your depth by touching bottom with your jig very two or three minutes is plenty! You will stay in close enough to be in the "zone" in all clear water lakes. And you will not be getting hung-up constantly by working the bottom too tight. In clear water, the action of a moving plastic tail and the image of an attached minnow will pull these walleyes up off the bottom from many feet away. If they see it, they’ll hit it! I add a bit of movement by sweeping my rod forward to make this rig dart. This finishes the presentation. It is deadly.

In Southern Minnesota this technique becomes much more difficult as the water clearity is such that the fish will not chase baits going overhead. In dirty water you must hold closer to the bottom. This jig-trolling works wonders on suspended walleyes that have pulled off and hanging just off to the edge and side of structure, such as drop-offs. I have use it effectively in deep water, blue sky, middle of the day, days with no wind or chop.

I fish with Berkley Fire Line or 8 to 10 lb. test Trilene XL mostly. I use a 6 ft. medium action Berkley Series One rod. These rods are inexpensive, jig-sensitive, have a fast tip, a lot of backbone, and necessary in this application. A "wimpy-rod" will loose you fish! Because it is jig fishing, you’ll want to detect the bite quick and set the hook with a strong swift set. Choose jigs with good strong hooks. I perfer Mustad hooks. These are hooks that you have a hard time using your fingers for opening up the required 10% needed to improve the gap width and improve the penetration angle. If you can open them up easy, so can the bigger fish. Many trophy walleyes are lost at the boat to weak jig hooks that straighten out!

Try jig-trolling next time you hit a clear water lake.
Dave Hoggard

Fishermen are catch-n on
Catch'n Tackle
For Bass, Walleye, Pike, Lakers, Trout, Panfish
Used by FishingMN Family

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Thanks Dave for your interesting and informative fishing info.,
You make most of it sound so easy, but once I'm out on the lake, I'm done, heh, heh.

Are you a guide? I may have to book a trip to learn some of these techniques.

Dano2 (the wally rook, HEH)

P.S. does the precision trolling guide (i think thats what its called) give alot of in depth info. on trolling with live bait rigs, as far as speed, depth, weight, line etc.,?

An old friend had the book, and I rember getting some good crank bait info. out of it, but never took an in depth look and was wondering if its worth the money?

[This message has been edited by Dano2 (edited 07-31-2003).]

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Speed trolloing with jigs. I seen a show where a local was doing this on Winni. He was very productive.

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I have done this. It is alot like trolling with bottom bouncers. 1 you have to keep your line at a 45º angle, 2 when you drop your rod back you should feel bottom, 3 you cover alot more water which can conclude to catching more fish.
Sometimes I do this with a small jig (1/16) and then add weight to it about 1'-2' up from the jig so i can troll faster this is also very affective.

Fish ON!

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Trolling crappie jigs is an excellnt way to tag (crappies) them during the summer months.Crappies tend to get far more aggressive as the water warms and will chase down a trolled jig with no problem at all. There are times when this method of jig fishing out-does everything else. Good info!

Sure life happens- why wait....The Crapster....good fishing guys!
[email protected]

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We were up on Leach, mid spring... NOBODY was catching more than 1 a day, except for one decked out boat...

He had his GPS tied to trolling motor so it ran the pattern, they caught NUMEROUS fish in the 4 to 7 pound range trolling jigs at avout 2.5 mph over slight ledges... we watched them for a day or two and finally caught onto the pattern (mind you we stayed away with binoculars, I know Im evil)... but anyway they were using orange jig heads, with in this case small rainbow suckers...

Ive always trolled small white jigs for whites and pans, but we really did much better once we got reasonably close to the pattern...


Thanks again for the great post !!!!!!!!

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