Using Lead Core Line – How to Troll Without Downriggers

fishing with lead core line

One of the most popular methods of fishing on lakes and ponds is trolling. Trolling is a great way to cover a large body of water in relatively short time. The act of trolling is simple; you set your lures at the depth you think fish are staying in the water column and you slowly drive your lures over a large area.

Lead Line Fishing

To reach the desired depths at trolling speed, anglers need tools and equipment. An affordable and effective tool is lead core line. Lead core line is a fishing line with a lead “core” that adds enough weight to keep your lures deep when trolling.

Trolling with lead core line is an easy way to get in to deep water fishing. Lead core line is marked with ten different colors, each measuring about ten yards in length. These colors indicate how much line you have out and effectively how “deep” your lure is, depending on a simple formula we’ll cover later. Unlike other methods of trolling, lead core line does not require expensive downriggers or heavy weights.

For the same price of regular fishing line, you can string up lead core line on your conventional reel and fish deep for trophy trout, walleye, and salmon. Extremely affordable and easy to use, lead core line should be your first option for trolling.

Setting up Lead Core Line on your reel

Set up for lead core line is really simple.

Similarly to how you would set up braided line, you want to use a solid monofilament line as a backing on the reel. Spool about twenty to thirty yards of monofilament line before you add your lead core.

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Next, you want to tie your lead core onto the backing. There are a few knots that most anglers use, but the one I feel works best is the Willis Knot. The Willis Knot requires about five to seven inches of lead to removed from your line end, emptying the sheath of the lead core.

You’ll next want to loosely tie an overhand knot up the sheath of the lead core, near where the rest of the lead sits. The trick to the Willis knot is to insert the monofilament backing into the sheath, as if you’re replacing the lead core with the monofilament core.

Once you’ve worked the monofilament leader up to the lead within the line, slide the overhand knot over the sheath that’s filled with leader line and tighten. This will ensure your monofilament leader and lead core line will stay connected. Here’s a great video on how to do the Willis Knot.

Once you have your lead core line tied on, spool the entire amount of lead core line on your reel. Before you start, make sure you have a big enough reel to support all ten colors of line. Once all the lead core has been spooled on your reel, you’re going to want to duplicate the knot you created for your backing for the leader. Never tie a lure directly on your lead core line.

Always use a leader. Any fish that are line shy will spot your lead core and be spooked enough to not bite. Tie another Willis Knot and add between ten and twenty feet of leader to your pole. Put a snap swivel on the end and your reel is ready to go.

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Fishing with Lead Core Line

Fishing with lead core line is simple. The key to getting your lures down deep with lead core is ensuring you fish at the right speed. The slower the troll, the deeper the line can dive. A rule of thumb is that at slow to medium speeds (1.5 to 2mph), your lure should dive at about 6-8ft per color. Obviously there are variables that can affect that, such as current, but by and large this is the rule that anglers follow.

To see more precise depths for certain lines, I’ve created a detailed lead core line depth chart you can refer to for the big name brands in lead core line. The first thing to do when trolling with lead core is adjust your speed based on the action of the lure. To check, release your lure just below the surface so you can see how it swims at the speeds you plan on trolling. Once you’re satisfied with the action, release the tension on the line and let out the number of colors you’ll need to reach the desired depth.

For example, if you’re trolling at 2mph and would like your lure to swim at around 30 feet, you’ll need to let out five colors of line, which amounts to about 150 feet. Keep in mind, the number of colors means the number of colors in the water, not to the rod tip. One useful tool to consistently get the right depth for your lures is a line counter reel. You can find some of those here.

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What lures can you use with Lead Core Line

You can use basically any lure you want with lead core line. Spinners, spoons, stickbait, live bait, and flies all work very well with lead core line. Traditionally, trout and salmon anglers use spoons and flies when trolling, so you’ll see those used mostly. For walleye, anglers like to use a variety of lures, including crankbaits. Lead core is so versatile any lure will work.

If you want to troll but do not want to add expensive downriggers or other devices to your boat, the best option is using lead core line. It’s an affordable way to get into trolling. It is easy to use. And it’s extremely versatile. Lead core line should be included in every anglers’ deep water arsenal. Check it out for yourself today!

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