Angler Education

Troll or Cast for More Fish?

There are a lot of different ways for an angler to present a bait to fish, but trolling and casting are two of the most popular methods, and also two of the most productive. Let’s talk about when casting works best and when trolling works best.

Casting is usually most effective in shallow water, and when you have the fish pinpointed. Let’s say you know where there’s a small rock pile or a shallow point and you suspect some walleyes might be hanging out around that structure. It’s only three or four feet deep on the spot, and the water is fairly clear. If you drift or troll over the spot, you’re going to spook the fish. However, if you stay thirty feet or so away and cast, the fish will never know you’re there, or at least they won’t until you net them. When the fish are shallow and confined to a small area, casting is the way to go.

Casting isn’t just for shallow water. I’ve seen several situations, especially when crappies or walleyes were the quarry, when casting to deep water was the key.

Sometimes crappies will suspend over deep water. When you find that happening, it works well to cast a light jig and let it sink through the fish. Watch your line closely, as a small twitch is all that will indicate a strike.

In lakes that get a lot of fishing pressure, walleyes will get spooky and hug the bottom. They will respond better to a casting presentation. I’ve been in on a few bites where, even in thirty feet of water we had to cast to the fish to get them to bite.

Trolling works best when the fish are spread out, mostly in summer and fall. Even when they spread out in shallow water, you can catch them, but you must use stealth. This is electric motor and planer board time.

The Minn Kota Terrova motors that I’ve been using are very quiet and easy to steer, and they allow you to sneak through an area without alerting the fish. Add a planer board to your line and you can troll through shallow water and catch lots of fish. We did this last year early in the summer. We worked this exact method in six feet of water and caught lots of nice walleyes. Off Shore planer boards with Tattle Flags are the best for this presentation, as they reveal when a small perch has taken your bait. Without the Tattle Flag, you’ll pull the perch around and walleyes won’t mess with the bait.

If the wind is blowing hard, fire up the outboard for trolling. The four-stroke Honda motors will troll all day without missing a beat, and they’re easy on the gas. The outboards will also enable you to troll a little faster, and as we get into the summer months, a faster presentation is often most effective.
If you remember to cast for shallow, pinpointed fish and to troll for fish that are spread out, you’re going to catch more fish.