Walleye trollers can increase their efficiency by employing a two-way system that uses unweighted flatlines and inline trolling sinkers, a versatile application that’s particularly effective when fish can be scattered in a variety of depths, a common occurrence during mid-summer.
Here’s the deal: Set up trolling rods and linecounter level wind reels with 30-pound test braided line. The thin line diameter allows it to cut through water, enabling lures to reach their maximum depth. Tie a snap to the superbraid. Then tie a six to eight-foot trolling leader, with 10- to 12-pound test fluorocarbon line, with a snap on one end, a swivel on the other.
To work the shallower range, simply snap the leader onto the braid, then a shad-shaped crankbait to the snap. With 80 to 120 feet out, baits like Storm’s Hot-n-Tot or Rapala’s Shad Rap will get down to the 10 to 14 foot zone.
When it’s time to check out the deeper zones, rather than rigging up with a whole new setup with leadcore line, simply clip in a trolling sinker like Bass Pro Shops’ Fish Weight Inline Fishing Weight between the superbraid snap and the leader swivel.
Experiment with 1- and 2-ounce sinkers to reach the depths you desire given your boat speed. You’ll be able to get down to those deeper zones without the bother of setting up with leadcore line outfits, and will be able to make a quick switch should you decide to fish shallow later on.
A few tips are in order when fishing with trolling rigs that employ a weighting system, be it inline sinkers or leadcore line.
Since they don’t track exactly the same in the water, it’s better not to run both leadcore line and inline sinker set-ups at the same time. Doing so is an invitation for some major tangles. When making turns, be sure to make them very wide. When trolling multiple lines, I pull in the two inside lines when making turns. It’s far easier to run them back out again after making the turn, than trying to untangle twisted lines.
Weighted lines are sensitive to speed of travel. When you’re simply long-line trolling diving crankbaits, boat speed has little effect on diving depth of the lure. Add weight, by way of inline trolling sinkers or leadcore line, and the same is not true. Speed up and the lure runs higher (shallower); slow down and they sink to deeper water. That’s why it’s nice to have a GPS unit, even a simple one, which registers speed (called “ground speed” on most models). You can keep the boat moving at a consistent speed, an important aspect when you’re trying to keep lures a foot or two from the bottom.
Getting baits near the bottom on lakes with relatively level basins is a fairly easy task. Once the boat is at trolling speed — 1.5 to 2.0 mph is a good range for walleyes spring through summer — begin letting line out. After you have about 70 or 80 feet out, engage the reel. Give things a minute or two to settle in, for the lure to achieve its depth at that speed. If it’s bumping bottom such action will be transmitted to the rod tip. If this is the case, bring in some line until it stops. If it’s not contacting bottom, continue to pay out line, in 10 foot increments, until it does. Then bring it back in a few feet, so it’s up off the bottom. If the boat moves at that speed the lure will stay at that depth.