Trolling for walleye on Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Norfork is very popular and can be very productive because you can troll using different baits, depths and cover lots of water. But choosing the trolling method that best meets the lake conditions and your boats hardware capability will be very important for your success.
This blog will be focused primarily on deep trolling techniques that were discussed in our club meeting on 6/25/19 by a few of our club members who use these methods regularly to catch walleye. If you are new to deep trolling, you might be wondering which method is right for you.
The answer to this depends on your understanding of trolling, your boats capability and your willingness to go out and practice until you feel comfortable using your tackle and hardware. Quoted by one of our finest (Ed Druml) “TOW”…Time On The Water probably is the one most important piece of advice I’ve ever been given for fishing these beautiful reservoirs.
While downriggers are a popular method for deep trolling, they are much more popular in our northern states for deep trolling and will require special hardware. This method uses a mechanical or electric pully and crank system on a boom, spooled with steel cable or wire to drop a steel ball (Cannon Ball) to the desired depth, and attaching your bait using a special snap-release. The ball is usually a 6 lb or 8 lb and pulled at trolling speeds between .8 mph to 2.5 mph.
Probably one of the biggest advantages to this method is that you only need about 50 ft of line behind your boat, unlike lead core where you might have more than 200 ft of line out. This makes tight turns much easier and keeps your baits in the desired depth.
If you use downriggers, you will need to have a complete understanding of the dive charts of the cannonball, lure dive curve and your blowback. Blowback is the degree back from straight up and down that your downrigger ball tracks while at trolling speed. Alan Giardina explains how to set-up and rig your downrigger in our latest video.
Probably one of the easiest, least expensive and popular deep trolling methods are using snap weights. Snap Weights are lead weights available in popular sizes ranging from ½ oz up to 3 oz and attached to snap clips allowing you to snap the weight to your fishing line to achieve the desired depth.
The most popular and straight forward technique is the 50/50 system, where you would let out 50 feet of line, attach the desired snap weight and let out an additional 50 feet of line. You will need to follow the 50/50 snap weight chart (See below) to correctly choose the trolling speed and depth needed. It's important to know the actual dive curve of your lure to achieve trolling depth accuracy too. Don Thomas discusses snap weights in our latest video and shows you how to read the chart and rig your snap weights.
While we have discussed lead core in previous articles and videos, it never hurts to re-visit this popular deep trolling method. It is a very exact depth technique but again will require special tackle, reels, rods and fishing line. Many of our members are extremely successful using lead core line, but keep in mind that these members regularly use this method and have refined this technique and have become very good at it. A lot of practice has paid off for them with regular limits of walleye.
Richard Fischer and Carol Balance explain using lead core in our latest video
Which one of these methods is the best? It really depends on your personal preference, and what you feel comfortable with. I personally use all three, but I have my favorite. Don’t be overwhelmed by information overload like so many, and may never actually get out and use these methods to Troll Deep For Walleye. Pick a method, study up and go fish 😊