How to Troll with Crankbaits?

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Video trolling crankbaits

We’ll just state the obvious. Fishing for walleye is just plain fun. Thrilling and fast-paced, catching walleye means an angler has to be quick-thinking when it comes to fishing this predator. That’s why we asked walleye expert, Dale Gilbert, to share his extensive walleye knowledge with us. A walleye master, Dale, has fished walleye from Arkansas to Canada and Michigan to Montana, and he doesn’t disappoint.

Trolling with crankbaits is a good time. In this link, walleye expert, Dale Gilbert, explains his setup and a technique that he uses to make sure lures are tuned.

How to Troll with Crankbaits

Hey, folks, this is Dale Gilbert here, fishing over here on Noxon Reservoir in Montana, and it’s April. Going to do a little trolling for crank baits. Yesterday, I had a pretty good time doing this with crankbaits, using a little Number 7 Berkeley Flicker Shad in the firetiger color, catches a nice fish.

I got a nice trolling rod. This one of the North 40 rods that I got right here. This is an eight-and-a-half-footer. It’s a medium power with a moderate action which is absolutely one of my favorite actions and power rods. In fact, yesterday, this rod caught every fish we caught, which was pretty awesome.

Got a Berkeley Line Counter reel, spooled up with 10-pound Berkeley Tracer. It’s a braided line, so there’s no stretch to it, so you want a nice, a soft or moderate action rod, and you want the reel that’s got a real nice, soft drag to it, so when something picks it up, it’s smooth, pulls off, there’s no sticking to it.

I use a little cross-lock snap, tie it directly to the FireLine like so, and I’ll take and put my crankbait on there, close my cross lock snap, hopefully, without a, whoops, hopefully, without a hook in the finger.

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I kind of have this set-up. Got my rod, now, usually when I’m trolling crankbaits, I like to actually take the lure and put it in the water alongside the boat where I’m fishing at trolling speed and make sure it’s tuned before I actually let out the line that I want to let out. I do that by putting the crankbait in the water at trolling speed, letting it start to work like it should, and you see it’s like diving straight down like it should, and I give it a big pull, and if it dives straight down. As long as it dives straight down into the water it’s tuned, if it’s not tuned and it comes skidding out on one side or the other, it’s out of tuning and it needs a little adjusting with that.

Now, this crank bait right here, if you were looking at it and been able to see that, you see instead of diving straight down, it kind of went off to the left a little bit. So, it’s a little bit out of tune.

Now, the first thing I would do then, is I want the crankbait to come back this way towards the boat, because I want it to dive straight down. I don’t want it to actually comes towards the boat, but I want it to dive straight down.

The first thing I want to do is just pull real hard just on my line the way I want it to go. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Put it back in the water, check the tune again, make sure, find out if it’s going at a trolling speed, pretty much is diving straight down and not coming straight out, that’s all it took to get that thing to run a little more truer like I want.

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Now, when you’re trolling longline trolling crank baits like this, what you have to decide is with whatever bait you’re using, whether it’s the size and how big a bill, they’ve all got dive curves charts, so they’ll tell you with a Number Seven Flicker Shad like this that if I want to fish 10-foot of water, I can let out so many feet of line, and it’s going to run right at 10-foot of depth.

That’s what I want to figure out. Because, yesterday, we were trolling and catching fish at about 14-foot, so I was running about 85-foot of line out on this thing, and that thing would tick the bottom about 14-foot.

Then, you just start trolling, and I troll crank baits anywhere from one and a half to like up to four miles an hour, more often than not, around the 1.9 to 2.3 miles and hour. It’s just really an effective way to cover a lot of water to find fish. A lot of times, you’re going to catch some pretty nice, big fish. We caught a 27-incher yesterday on this crank bait, and a real nice smallmouth, because you’re just covering the water and the fish like it.

This particular crankbait actually has rattles in it. I don’t know if you can hear this, but it actually rattles which is a little more attractive. Especially, a little dirty water like we have here now with the spring, we don’t really have the spring runoff yet, but it’s starting to dirty up a little bit. It’s got a little more visibility with this bright firetiger color, and it’s got that rattle in there, which also helps expand the strike zone a little bit.

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What I do then as I’m trolling along, kind of like a trolling pass that I got lined up and trying to target that 14-foot of depth, let out 80-foot of line, and basically put it in a rod holder.

Then, what I’m doing when I’m trolling is I’m watching my rod tip, and I’m wanting to see my rod tip just vibrating like crazy to make sure that crank bait’s running and not to have weed on it. The rod tip quits the vibrating, then there’s a problem. There’s a weed on it or something like that. You’ve got to reel it in and clear it off.

Otherwise, sit there, and when a fish take it, hits, especially with this FireLine, what you want to do is you don’t want to have your drag set too tight. You want it to give, because the rod’s got to give, or the drag’s got to give. If you don’t have it set up that way, a big fish hits that, something’s going to break. You’re going to pull the hooks loose, or you’ll break the line right off.

It’s a great way of catching a lot of fish, covering a lot of water, one of my favorite ways to fish, long line trolling crankbaits.

Thanks for watching. If you have any further questions on walleye fishing, please come visit us at any of our retail locations or North40.com.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>