Some may raise a skeptical eyebrow at the notion of trolling in a kayak, but with the trolling motors and pedal-powered kayaks on the market today, it’s much easier to troll. Furthermore, you have a wide variety of different lure and rigging options from which to choose these days. Whenever you set out to troll, though, the right bait is where you’ll want to start. One great option is a Worden Spin-N-Glo tipped with live bait, such as a wax worm, or something like a Berkley one-inch crawler. You can also use small crankbaits, as well as smaller inline spinners, to bring in fish.
Aside from bait and lure choices, you’ll need to consider depth and speed when you’re trolling, as well. Your depth with bait will depend on the amount of weight you add to the line, how much line you let out, and your boat speed. With crankbaits, your depth depends on how deep the specific lure dives and how far back you set it. If you’re using very small lures, you may need to add more weight to get to the right depth.
Ultra-light rods will be your best friends when you’re trolling. With bait-tipped lures, I also like #6 long-shank hooks. Line-counter reels are a big help when you’re trying to find where the fish are holding, or when you need to stay there once you’ve found it. Of course, you can always use your best guess by keeping track of about how much line you let out and using that same amount after a strike and you discover where they’re holding. Line in the six-pound test range is best, too.
Finally, slower speeds in the one mph range are usually best for panfish. The slow speed coupled with light line means you don’t need much weight to get your bait deep and keep it there; a small or medium split shot will do just fine. If the fish are deeper, you can always add more split shots as needed. Clamp the shots to the main line, ahead of a snap swivel, in order to keep spinners from twisting your line.
Trolling for panfish with light tackle can be a rewarding and exciting way to fill your freezer before winter truly sets in and the lakes ice over. The tips outlined above will help you get set up to do some damage, so keep them in mind if you’re thinking of trolling anytime soon.