Using a trolling rod and reel combo correctly involves several steps, from setting up your gear to executing the trolling technique. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Select the Right Gear: Ensure that your trolling rod and reel combo is appropriate for the type of fishing you’re doing, the species you’re targeting, and the conditions you’ll be fishing in.
Set Up the Reel: Spool the reel with the appropriate fishing line. Use a monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided line depending on the fishing conditions and target species. Make sure the line is properly loaded onto the reel to avoid tangles and ensure smooth casting and retrieval. Adjust the drag system. It should be set according to the strength of the line and the size of the fish you’re targeting.
Attach Lures or Baits: Choose lures or baits that are suitable for trolling. These could be diving plugs, spoons, or other artificial lures, or natural baits like dead baitfish. Attach them to the end of your line using appropriate knots or hardware, ensuring they are securely fastened.
Set Up Rod Holders: If you have rod holders on your boat, position them so that your trolling rods are securely held in place. Make sure the rods are positioned in such a way that they won’t interfere with each other or get tangled.
Control Trolling Speed: Adjust the boat’s speed to the desired trolling speed. The right speed will depend on the species you’re targeting and the type of lure or bait you’re using. Consider using a trolling motor or other means to help maintain a consistent speed.
Deploy the Lures: Gently place the lures in the water and allow them to trail behind the boat. Pay attention to the depth at which you want to fish, and adjust the line length accordingly. If you’re using multiple rods, stagger the lines at different distances and depths to cover more water.
Monitor Rods and Reels: Keep an eye on your rods for any signs of a strike or bite. This could be a sudden movement, a tap on the rod tip, or a change in the tension on the line.
Set the Hook: When you feel a strike, give the fish a moment to take the bait, then quickly engage the reel and set the hook with a sharp upward motion of the rod.
Play and Land the Fish: Once you’ve hooked a fish, fight it using the rod and reel, keeping a steady pressure on the fish while avoiding sudden, jerky movements. Gradually reel in the fish, maintaining tension on the line. Use the rod to control the fish’s movements. When the fish is near the boat, use a net or gaff to safely land it.
Handle and Release or Keep the Fish: Handle the fish gently, especially if you plan to release it. Use a proper fish handling technique to minimize stress and injury to the fish. If you’re keeping the fish, follow local regulations and guidelines for legal size limits and catch limits.
Maintain and Clean Equipment: After your fishing trip, rinse off saltwater and clean your gear to prevent corrosion and damage. Check for any signs of wear or damage that may need repair or replacement.