12 Tips for Trolling Wire Line & Leadcore

Parachute jigs are top wire line lures.

To catch the biggest stripers, you’ve got to get a bait or lure down to where the fish holding, especially if you want to score during the sunny, mid-day hours.

One of the best methods of presenting a lure to big bass—and bluefish—is trolling with wire or leadcore line. Not only do these line types get your lure into the payoff zone, they also let you cover more territory, which helps to locate a school of fish over a large section of bottom.

While entire books have been written on trolling wire and leadcore, here are some basic tips for fishing them effectively:

  • 1) If you’re new to controlled-depth trolling, practice over a sandy, obstruction-free bottom, in different current speeds, and in different directions to the current, until you get a sense of how much line to let out to keep your lure just above bottom.
  • 2) Monel and leadcore are easier for beginners to use than stainless wire, which is prone to “birds nests” and kinks.
  • 3) Troll as slowly as possible, especially for striped bass. Optimum speed is less than two knots. Some wire-line pros rig their boats with special devices such as trolling valves, sea anchors, and prop plates to achieve slower speeds.
  • 4) Troll with the current. This will help get your lure deeper with less line let out, plus it’s the direction the fish will expect their prey to come from. On the downside, trolling with the current also makes it more difficult to achieve the proper boat speed.
  • 5) Try using a drift sock (sea anchor) to slow your trolling speed. A couple of five-gallon buckets trailed behind the boat can also help slow a smaller vessel.
  • 6)  Consider installing a kicker motor or electric trolling motor for slow trolling to achieve the proper speed.
  • 7) Use at least 10 to 12 feet of leader when fishing tubes, plugs, and spoons. Parachute jigs can be fished on a five- to six-foot leader.
  • 8)  Leave the rod in a rod holder when fishing tube lures, and let the fish hook itself.
  • 9) When trolling a tube lure, be sure to place a live seaworm on the hook. After a strike, check to make sure the worm is still attached.
  • 10) In rocky areas, use a 60- or even 80-pound-test leader to guard against chafing.
  • 11) Use a top-quality ball-bearing snap swivel when trolling tube lures, which spin. This will help avoid line tangles.
  • 12)  If you don’t know the location of a productive rip or ledge in your area, consult a chart. Look for places where the bottom rises rapidly from 20 or 40 feet to within 10 to 15 feet of the surface. Combine it with good current flow and you’ve got prime spot to fish wire or leadcore!