Trolling Must Haves for Fall Fishing Success

Trolling Must Haves for  Fall Fishing Success

Jodie Paul November 07, 2022

If you need a little help in the trolling department, sometimes it might be best to watch a good trolling video for your season.  Because many anglers, target many species, it is recommended to watch a combination of all types of videos to pull in elements that might be uncommon to the sport of musky angling.  You can find a tip or a trick anywhere you look, even in some big ocean trolling.  For musky, you will find a lot of the same habits to catch a Fall Fatty, but it’s always good to watch a live demonstration to work out the ins and outs of best practices.

Outside of finding the best video to help you learn, there’s a short list of tools that are required for you to establish a great trolling game.  Without the essentials you are just throwing water on a grease fire, and you may never properly troll your waterway.  Here is a great list of things you need to get you going and what these tools accomplish.  With the proper set up you are likely to nail the musky of your dreams in the cold-water temps this Fall.

  1. Electronic Sonar/Lake Map – It is imperative in modern trolling to have a sonar scan and lake chart visible while making your rounds. Split screen is always a good option so that you can see both simultaneously.  Prior to dropping lines, it’s a good habit to cruise your trolling pass at low speeds to find out what depths and structures are below.  A good understanding of the bottom structure will make the difference between boating a fish and going home without the photo!  You want to focus on where the bait is holding and what structure is passable.  Mark your trolling pass directly off the ledge, weed edge, or deep drop and follow that pattern religiously to make sure you are putting your baits within chomping distance of the target. 
  2. Trolling Rods – Having a good trolling rod with a strong backbone is key to preventing breakage and over extension. Good quality musky trolling rods are built to withstand the constant pull of oversized baits, and the exceptional force of a trolling hit.  More whippy rods won’t have the backbone to set the hook under pressure and risk snapping.
  3. Trolling Reels – Get yourself a good quality line counting reel. There are many out there that will make a great addition to your trolling set up.  Line counting reels are typically less expensive and give you an advantage to setting your trolling depth.  Trolling charts for various lures are located on many sites.  Once you dial in your line length, you will always know exactly where your lure is setting in the water column, putting your bait directly in the path of a big musky.
  4. Trolling Leader – For trolling, you want a bit sturdier and a bit longer leader. The impact of a trolling fish often comes with some big fight as they are looking to take down large moving targets.  For this you want to make sure you have a leader on that can take some heat.  Don’t loose a monster musky because you used a 50# casting leader.  Fluorocarbon is recommended to allow your baits to shimmy freely with the flow.
  5. Rod Holders – Make sure you are using rod holders for multiple reel trolling. Many people like to hand hold or manually jig while trolling, but if you have a good trolling lure on the end of the line, it is usually not necessary.  Muskies are trying to pack on the weight during fall for the upcoming winter months, so they are looking to eat naturally.  Add a rod holder or two into the mix to keep your trolling hands free.


Other optional tools….

  1. Planer Boards – These boards are great when you are running multiple lines. Planer boards keep your lines away from each other during twists and turns while trolling, but if you are fishing two or single trolling lines, they are unnecessary.  In this situation you can just add your lines to opposite sides of the boat.  They are great when trolling 3+ lines at higher speeds.
  2. Trolling Lures – There are a whole host of lures made specifically for trolling in extra large sizes and shapes. These lures are great for producing amazing action at speed.  Any crank can be used as a trolling bait so you are not out of pocket the expense; however, oversized trolling lures are great to have to entice some bigger predators. 

All of these tools are excellent for helping you catch a monster musky, but nothing puts trolling fish in the boat like time on the water.  If you want to become an expert on your body of water, nothing beats putting in the hours to learn the lake.  Learn where the fish travel seasonally and where the active feeding takes place.  If you have a lake map, always mark strikes during passes, because muskies are notorious for making their home in the same place year after year.  If you catch a 46” this year, it might just be a 50” in a few more years, so always revisit marked contacts.  Let time on the water be your ultimate teacher and always document your successes and all of the conditions that made it happen.