Monday, November 26, 2018

Kayak Fishing Tips: Tips For Trolling With Deep Crankbaits

In the last two years I've been trying to perfect walleye fishing from a kayak.  A bit of a tough task since I haven't perfected walleye fishing from a boat or shore.  However, since kayak fishing has become my primary way of fishing it's time I figure out the best ways to target walleye.

Initially I started kayak fishing for walleye by trolling with crawler harnesses and Lindy rigs. In the spring and early summer I had pretty good success catching walleye this way.  However, once the summer came on in full I noticed that my catch rates slowed.

What were the walleye doing different that was causing me to miss out on fish? The walleye had changed their forage to one comprised mainly of baitfish. With that in mind I started paying closer attention to my fish finder. The fish finder showed me that the larger fish were suspended at intermediate depths between 8 and 20 feet of water.   No wonder I wasn't catching any walleye.  The fish were suspended above where my bait was.  Not only that but they were also suspended just below schools of bait fish.

This walleye behavior made me change my tactics.  I went from fishing crawlers harnesses in deep water to trolling crankbaits that matched the size of the bait fish.   Having located the walleye I decided to long line troll with deep diving crankbaits behind the kayak.  Below are some tips that helped me put my walleye in the kayak while trolling.

1. Use a crankbait that dives the depth you need
The first thing you want to do is pick a crankbait that dives specifically to the depth you desire.  For me this crankbait was the Berkley Flicker Shad.  Since I was trying to catch fish that were hanging in water between 8 and 20 feet deep the flicker shads diving depth of 8 to 14 feet of water is one of the main reasons I picked it.  However there was another reason I picked the flicker shad as my crankbait of choice.  

2. Match the hatch
The other reason I picked the Flicker Shad is because it matched the size of the baitfish the walleye were feeding on.  At that time of year the bait fish I was marking were all in the one to two inch size range so matching that size was key to catching the walleye that were feeding on them from below.

3. Use the right line weight to maximize diving depth
When I initially switched to trolling flicker shad I trolled with two rods running parallel to each other. With this set up I noticed I was only catching walleye on one of my rods. While on the other I was catching white bass which were slightly above and mixed in with the walleye. That told me that my crankbait on the other rod was not getting deep enough to attract the attention of the walleye.

My problem was pretty simple and required a simple fix. The two rods I was trolling with had two different line weights, 10lb and 14lb.  The rod with the 10lb test was running the crankbaits deeper than the rod with 14lb test line. So a quick line replacement before my time out fishing was all it took to fix the problem of the shallow running rod.

4. How much line you have out affects diving depth
Every company that makes crankbaits will have a corresponding dive chart on their website.  This tool is something you cannot afford to overlook if you're gonna long line troll cranks from a kayak.  So make sure you are checking the chart to know how far your crankbait needs to be behind you to achieve the depth you desire.  It's a simple thing that will keep you putting fish in the yak when you'd otherwise be just getting exercise paddling over the fish.

5. Don't troll two floating crankbaits at the same time
Probably the most frustrating thing that happens when long line trolling crankbaits is you often get lines tangled when you stop to reel in a fish. For me there was absolutely nothing more frustrating then reeling in a fish only to have it spin my yak into my second line causing me to get the lines tangle up. As a result I have stopped trolling two deep cranks at once. Now I always run a deep crank on one rod with a live bait rig such as a bottom bouncer and harness or a three way rig with leech or minnow dropped directly below me in order to avoid line tangles due to excess line out.

6. Use lead tape to cause crankbaits to ascend slower or suspend
The last thing I found when trolling with deep cranks is that I stopped paddling the crankbaits floated to the surface eliminating the possibility of additional bites. To keep you crankbaits in the strike zone longer after you stop add a little lead tape to the bottom my cranks. The lead tape will get my cranks closer to neutral buoyancy so they won't float up so fast or just suspend when you stop paddling.  At least on two occasions this helped me land a fish that probably wouldn't have been willing to bite otherwise.

Hopefully these simple kayak trolling tips will help you put more fish in the boat.  While they may seem simple they are pivotal pieces of the puzzle that is fishing.  Tight lines and make sure you take a kid fishing the next time you go.

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