With many anglers nowadays employing advanced electronics, line counter reels, and any number of depth control devices, precisely presenting lures in the strike zone is a fairly simple task for open water trollers. Presenting each individual lure precisely is a good way to boat a lot of fish ... sometimes. Many times, however, it is how your lures work together that makes all the difference.
For open water fish especially (i.e. trout, kokanee, salmon, walleye), anglers can optimize the visual and audible appeal of their spread by strategically implementing Mack’s attractors, more specifically Flash Lite® Trolls. Flash Lite® trolls are a modern improvement upon traditional cowbells as they provide substantial flash with very lightweight, counter-rotating blades. This will allow you to run Flash Lite® Trolls with lighter tackle, experience lower drag, and reduce line twist.
Drawing Them In
On one noteworthy day last August, I was trolling for steelhead on the Central Basin of Lake Erie alongside my brother, Nick, and Captain Dean Cushman of Hard CORE Charters. Our trolling rig was nothing out of the ordinary; a couple of downriggers, a pair of diving planers, and a pair of segmented leadcores (5 to 7 colors) running wide on inline planer boards. The business end of these rigs was a diverse array of spoons, ranging in sizes from 2.5- to 4-inches. This may seem fairly elementary, but one simple piece of our trolling spread made all the difference in how many fish went in the cooler.
Our portside downrigger was HOT that day, taking most of our steelhead and sticking enough walleye to choke a horse. This rod was rigged with a 4-Bladed Flash Lite® Troll, Mack's Lure's new-age cowbell-style attractor that has proven to be absolutely deadly for Great Lakes trout, salmon, and walleyes.
These Flash Lite® Trolls put off a TON of flash, which imitates schooling baitfish perfectly. I find success by fishing the Flash Lite® Troll toward the center of my trolling spreads to draw fish in from a distance. Open water fish are always on the move and searching for their next meal, so make it easy for cruising fish to locate your trolling spread. Even if the Flash Lite® Trolls aren’t taking fish (which is rarely the case), their flashiness is often enough to draw fish into view of the other naked lures (no attractors) behind your boat. It is a very, very rare day that a Flash Lite® or two isn’t integrated into my Great Lakes trolling spread.
Flash Lite® Trolls are arguably the most versatile attractor rig on the market, and the reason is because they can effectively be fished in front of any lure. High-drag offerings (i.e. crankbaits), which would deduct from the action of a dodger, can be fished behind a Flash Lite® without losing any of its action. Spoons, crawler harnesses, plugs, crankbaits, and hoochies are just a few options that will benefit from a set of Flash Lite® Trolls.
Tighten It Up
To have repeatable success in trolling for open water gamefish, you need to be conscious of how your entire spread appears, feels, and sounds to the fish. Setting each individual lure to fish by itself often does not produce as well as setting each lure to work as a part of the team. To emphasize this point, I once again look back to that August day on Lake Erie. Not only did we employ Flash Lite® Trolls for visual enhancement of our spread, but we were employing strategic lead lengths to create a “schooling” effect. By manipulating the lead lengths and weighting methods within your trolling spread, you can place all of your lures -- both vertically and horizontally -- to fish more effectively alongside each other.
Let’s approach this from another angle: If you were to view your trolling spread from the fish’s perspective, would it look like a single baitfish swimming by or would you see a school of baitfish? Mack’s Lure offers multiple ways to give the illusion of a larger-than-reality baitfish school. Regardless of what you use, the idea is still the same -- fool the fish into thinking there is a school of minnows swimming by, not just an individual. This will draw more gamefish into your spread.
Putting It All Into Action
Embrace the technology. Credit for this advice goes to my BUS1100 teacher during my senior year at Michigan Tech. This phrase was repeated so often that I graduated with it forever etched into my mind. This advice will not only help you stay on top in the modern business world, but also in the world of fishing (catching, actually). If you are not taking advantage of modern fishing technology, then you are behind the 8-ball. Advanced sonar, GPS, line counter reels, depth probes; you name it. If you can afford it, USE IT! Nowadays you can even view accurate dive curves for all your favorite crankbaits. There is an app for that…
Fool them into thinking it’s something it’s not. Show the fish what they want to see. They want to see a school of baitfish, and they want to see an easy meal struggling to keep up with their buddies. Give it to ‘em! Mack’s Lure offers many options to create the schooling illusion behind your boat.
Something to consider. Try lagging a spoon or plug behind the rest of the spread. Do this to create the illusion of a struggling or wounded baitfish, an easy meal for any self-respecting gamefish. This can be done in a variety of ways, but leadcore is always very easy and usually effective.
Be cognizant of your lures’ vertical and horizontal positions. It sounds fancy, but all this means is keeping your “school” looking as lifelike as possible. If the “schooling” effect is what you’re after, then knowing the 3D position of your lures is critical.
Note the common denominator when you catch fish. This is generally common sense, BUT if you remove a lure from the water and you stop catching fish, put it back in the water. Even if it didn’t catch any fish, if it appealed to the auditory, vibratory, or visual sense of your quarry, it may have been the dinner bell. Put the dinner bell back in the mix and see if you go back to catching fish. Even if it does not catch the fish, isn’t it worth the sacrifice?