No foolproof approaches exists, so we replay the odds retaining our choices open primarily based on the conditions we face. 

To solid or to troll, the age-old query? Casters spotlight the satisfaction in making well-placed casts, working lures to perfection, seeing the comply with, feeling the strike, and setting the hook with rod in hand. Trollers usually point out “the science” of their technique—fine-tuning lure speeds and operating depths. And allow us to not neglect how environment friendly trolling may be. Ah, however in tight spots casting may be the extra so. Listed below are arguments on each side of our age-old query.

Trolling has inherent benefits over casting, as a matter of superior effectivity to maintain lures within the water operating at an optimum velocity and depth. If we’re doing issues proper, the extra water we cowl, the extra muskies we must always contact. The maths goes one thing like this.

Say we troll a Rapala Tremendous Shad Rap for 4 hours, operating at 3.5 mph at a depth of 8 toes. In 4 hours we may cowl 14 miles of territory (4 hours x 3.5 mph = 14 miles), absent time to land fish, change areas, clear weeds, and so forth. A median solid with the identical lure is perhaps 65 toes. For the primary 10 toes of every retrieve, the lure is diving to optimum depth. Over the past 5 toes it’s rising out of the optimum zone, leaving 50 toes of every solid in prime territory. With a beneficiant assumption of 1 solid and retrieve each minute for 4 hours, we are able to cowl roughly 2.25 miles at optimum depth (50 toes per solid x 240 casts/5,280 toes = 2.27 miles). Trolling covers nearly six instances extra territory.

The numbers are additional skewed on fisheries equivalent to Inexperienced Bay, the place the Tremendous Shad Rap is a chief muskie lure and three rods are allowed per angler. Utilizing in-line planer boards not solely will increase the period of time that lures are operating at their optimum velocity and depth, we dramatically enhance the quantity of territory the lures cowl. Even when casting with three anglers within the boat, everyone seems to be working from the identical platform and masking a comparatively small space across the boat. Trolled lures unfold at 15- to 30-foot increments with boards cowl a swath of water as vast as 300 toes.

Trolling with a number of traces additionally permits anglers to effectively cycle by way of lures to seek out productive patterns primarily based on water circumstances and the temper of fish. Pure- or darker-colored lures may be run on one aspect, whereas gaudy and lighter-colored lures run on the alternative aspect. A mix of massive and small lures may be blended into the identical unfold and fast experiments may be made with lures having tighter or wider actions. A number of depth ranges be can coated on the identical time through the use of a number of chief lengths, in-line keel sinkers, and lures with completely different diving depths.

In fact, anglers from Minnesota and Ontario, the place just one rod per angler can be utilized, often name trolling with three rods per individual “dishonest.” But there are lots anglers getting skunked extra usually than we care to confess whereas trolling 6 to 12 rods on Inexperienced Bay. The variety of rods used or miles traveled by a lure doesn’t assure success or match right into a neat equation of what number of muskies shall be caught. Moreover, there are occasions when a two-line unfold run tight behind the boat is more practical than an enormous unfold of traces.

A trolling rod mounted on a boat on a lake at dusk
Trolling with a number of traces additionally permits anglers to effectively cycle by way of lures to seek out productive patterns primarily based on water circumstances and the temper of fish.

Bait dimension may be one other figuring out think about deciding whether or not to solid or troll. Even with in the present day’s developments in rods and reels, angling fatigue turns into a limiting issue. The sooner assumption that an angler can solid and retrieve a diving plug each minute of the hour for 4 hours is bold at finest. Prolong that 4-hour fishing session right into a full 8-hour day or a 12-hour grind-it-out session and the effectivity of trolling turns into that rather more obvious. Improve the lure dimension from a 6-inch Tremendous Shad Rap to a Legend Plow or 13-inch Believer and one sees the impossibility of replicating these outcomes with a casting method.

On some big-water fisheries such because the St. Lawrence River, success usually requires operating outsized lures within the 8- to 16-inch vary. These lures current a big profile and displace an exorbitant quantity of water. Diving to depths of 25 to 45 toes, they get the eye of low-density trophy muskies cruising the river’s edge. Trolling is the best approach on this explicit setting. Should you’re capable of pinpoint a person fish hanging on a particular portion of the construction, then a vertical jigging method might come into play. As such, trolling and casting approaches can complement one another.

Trolling additionally reigns supreme when muskies demand an ultra-fast presentation to get them fired up. Velocity serves as a triggering issue that can’t be duplicated over lengthy distances when casting. Lures have a special operating motion, sound, and triggering impact when trolled at 4 to six mph versus a normal retrieve velocity. Lures crank tougher, make extra noise, and throw off a wider footprint as they tear by way of the water. Trolling will get lures grinding tougher on the underside and stirring up a protracted particles path.  

Whereas grinding backside, these lures encounter the occasional rock or log. The sound of the impression and the deflective motion of the lure attracts the eye of fish or triggers following fish. These encounters and potential for triggering response strikes happen extra steadily and with larger depth whereas trolling.

An angler holding a large muskie, kneeling in a boat on a lake
Throughout many seasons, trolling is essentially the most environment friendly approach to current lures to fish, particularly on massive waters.

The good thing about added velocity and motion imparted on lures by trolling is additional evident on city fisheries that obtain extreme leisure boating exercise all through summer time. Right here, wake boats, jet skis, and pleasure boats flip the lake into an outsized washer with wakes created from each angle. These lakes may be tough and even harmful to solid through the peak of this exercise. However muskies have tailored to this commotion and have realized to feed on prey disoriented and injured by the boating exercise. A prop-wash trolling chunk units up on these lakes, with the perfect chunk usually in the course of the day amongst all of the insanity. Lures labored rapidly on quick prop-wash rods beg to get crushed.

As an additional nod to the effectiveness of trolling, developments in in the present day’s electronics have made the science of trolling extra exact. For instance, Mega + Aspect Imaging on Humminbird sonars now have us wanting 200 toes off all sides of the boat. Each facet of rock, wooden, and weedcover is finely detailed on the display. Not solely can particular person fish be recognized as muskies, the path they’re dealing with additionally may be decided primarily based on the picture on the display. The precise location of the fish may be marked on the graph with an icon and the trail of the boat adjusted to completely intersect lures with the fish. If the fish doesn’t chunk, extra trolling passes may be made to the icon with completely different lures or with slight changes to the velocity and angle of the following trolling move.

Casting for Muskie

In the present day, most muskie anglers in all probability fall primarily throughout the casting camp. They perceive the effectiveness and delight of casting. There’s a serenity to shutting off the engine and connecting one-on-one with fish. Plus, for individuals who take pleasure in working topwater baits, and for people who wish to impart exact actions to lures, there isn’t any substitute for casting.

It takes the talent of a caster to make a lure dart erratically in a pair toes of water. Whereas trolling typically presents lures in a static and horizontal vogue, casting permits for extra assorted vertical shows. Massive rubber baits, equivalent to Muskie Improvements’ Bull Dawgs, possible have caught as many big muskies as any others lately. These lures rely partially on the rise-and-fall motion of the bait to get their giant rubber tails or appendages twisting, turning, and pulsating on the autumn.

Guides equivalent to Jon Bondy, from Windsor, Ontario, have confirmed the effectiveness of working baits vertically on areas the place ledges and present focus muskies alongside steep-breaking construction. Bondy common his sequence of namesake Bondy Baits to set off fish that want the dying motion of falling lures, versus the fleeing motion of a lure shifting horizontally. This identical vertical method may be key under dams and spillways the place muskies are conditioned to feed on dying bait that will get pushed by way of generators after which tumbles downstream alongside swift present seams. These circumstances are also good for casting bladebaits and jigs to duplicate the motion of disoriented prey.

An angler holding a large muskie, sitting in the back of a boat on a lake
Casting additionally shines the place small items of construction focus a fish or two.

To play on the predatory chase-and-kill instincts of muskies, the weaving and fleeing motion imparted to a glidebait requires clever rod work of a caster placing slack within the line after which rapidly taking it up with the rod in hand. Whereas trollers have develop into extra astute in commonly pivoting the boat at abrupt 30- to 45-degree angles to get baits rising and falling, stalling, and accelerating, the flexibility to look at a muskie method and react to every motion of the lure is invaluable to the caster. By observing a muskie’s habits, an angler can instantly reply with a special lure motion.  

Generally all it takes is a twitch of the rod, a barely longer pause, or two fast cranks to get a fish to go from a impartial following mode to recoiling in an S-curve and inhaling a bait. Casting permits the angler to interpret each motion of the fish and, on the finish every retrieve, make an ideal figure-eight maneuver to seal the deal on a following fish. It’s one essentially the most thrilling moments in muskie fishing. It could actually solely be skilled by casting.

In the meantime, on heavy-traffic lakes the place prop-wash trolling is efficient through the day, casting topwater lures after darkish can shine. Slowly working a Savage Gear 3D Smash Tail over a weedflat can ship explosive strikes that you just gained’t get trolling. Completely different approaches can show superior on the identical physique of water primarily based on time of day or total use by the general public.

Whether or not it’s fishing weed pockets, standing timber, slender lanes, or the tops of shallow rock reefs, your finest guess is casting. Casters can completely dissect a chunk of construction in a minimally intrusive method. This comes into play when an exceptionally giant fish has been noticed in an space. The scale of the fish may advantage devoting a complete prime feeding window, equivalent to a moon-rise main, locked down on a spot to repeatedly work baits in all doable manners, angles, and speeds for a crack on the fish.

River settings additionally provide a number of situations the place casting guidelines the day. When fish are holding instantly behind pilings or quick tight channels reduce away from the primary river channel, casting is required. The pocket the place fish maintain and the strike zone may be only a few toes. These spots can rapidly be hit a number of instances and from numerous angles by casting.

In spots the place present breaks maintain fish, there’s no substitute for swinging a lure by way of a small eddy the place massive fish lurk. Twitch the lure in slack water after which permit it to slowly take a pure swimming motion because it encounters shifting water. The lure has a special motion and attraction because it strikes from nonetheless to shifting water at completely different speeds. Trolling can’t impart this delicate pure motion to a lure or allow a lure to vary path, velocity, and depth in confined zones.

Small rivers are one other space the place casting to construction is essential. Whereas a sure proportion of fish might reside in the primary channel or deep holes the place trolling is a risk, most muskies station close to shoreline cowl. These fish usually require {that a} bait be solid parallel and downstream of sunken bushes or between boulders.    

Extremely-clear and shallow-water settings usually favor a casting method as nicely. The flexibility to work a topwater lure or burn a double-10 bucktail over a rockbar that tops out in 2 toes of water requires well-placed casts. Pressured fish in clear water can develop cautious of boat visitors and reply negatively, even to the intrusion of a trolling motor. Any slight noise can tip these fish to your presence. Somewhat wind helps cowl your method and correct casts are sometimes required. Different instances, lengthy casts and a stealthy presentation permit the caster to idiot fish that scatter within the presence of motor noise.

In fact, whether or not we solid or troll, muskie fishing stays a tough proposition. No foolproof or never-fail approaches exists. So we replay the odds over and over, simply as we’ve right here, principally retaining our choices open primarily based on the conditions we face as we transfer from fishery to fishery, making the perfect of seasonal modifications and climate circumstances.

*Steve Ryan is a longtime In-Fisherman Area Editor and an distinctive multispecies angler.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *