On my leadcore rigs I’m using 50-100 feet of 30 lb Big Game for backing. Then I’m loading the whole spool of #27 lb test leadcore and I’m also using 30-50 feet of 20 lb Big Game clear mono for a leader. I used flouro leaders for the past 2 years and went back to mono leaders. I don’t think the leader type matters much (mono vs flouro). I’ve caught fish on both and don’t see a significant difference in the two. The only difference that makes mono a little better is the fact that mono is tougher than flouro. If I hang a good fish and he takes me to the trees, I’ve got more of a chance of getting the fish out with mono. It has more stretch and is more tolerent to abrasions. When you are using leaders at 30-50 feet at a time, a good mono is far more cost effective than using flouro.
I have one Accu-Depth 57LC and a Okuma Classic Pro for my leadcore reels. I don’t pay much attention to the line counter. I use colors to get the bait where I want it.
For my downrigger reels I use Accu-Depth 47LC’s. I use 30 lb Big Game green line and a 30-50 foot 20 lb Big Game leader. I don’t really use the line counter for the downrigger applications either. I just run it out about 20-40 feet past the leader and hook it up to the ball.
All of my rods are Power Plus Trophy Class 7 footers (med heavy). They are tough and I’ve never had a problem with the rods. They are made for trolling 1/2 ounce to 2 ounce jigs. I’ve also used my Tiger rods for leadcore and downriggers. They work great also, just a little more flex than the Power Pro.
This is the most important part to the equation. My rule of thumb is small artificials early in the summer and as the water temps warm to the warmest temps of the year my artificials get bigger. Some of my favorites through July and August are weighted swimbaits, one ounce, up to three ounce bucktails with curltail and paddletail trailers. Curltails seem to work well in June and July and Paddletails July and in August. I’ll also use some jerkbaits and crankbaits on the downriggers and leadcore. One of the most important aspects of using plastics and lipped baits is to make sure your baits are super tuned to higher speeds. Running small artificial plastic baits at 2-3 mph requires a straight hook line centered throughout the bait. This will allow the bait to run true through the water. It is very very important when hooking a plastic bait to a jig to make sure the hook line is straight and centered. A bait that is out of tune will run to one side or the other and a lot of times will run sideways in a non-effective presentation. The straighter the bait, the better chance of success. This also holds true, more so in lipped typed diving baits. You can adjust just about any lipped bait by slightly bending the attach eye of the bait in the opposite direction the bait is running, and then testing it at the correct speed. The best way to see if my baits are tuned is to drop the baits over the side while running at trolling speeds, run the bait back 5-10 feet and drop the rod tip in the water and watch to see if the bait follows the rod tip. If not, it needs super tuned.
At the depths that are being targeted,to me jig color is less important. I think that color tones are more important. Two tone baits work better for me. Flash is something that always helps in reaction strikes. I use a lot of flash on my jigs to help create a reaction. Sometimes flash helps for lethargic fish. Especially if fishing a group of inactive fish.
I always start out with a variety of baits at a variety of depths. With my leadcore I’ll run one leadcore at 150 feet to 175 feet behind the boat and a second leadcore at 200 plus. This equates to a bait running at 15-20 feet in depth and another at 20 plus depending on the weight of the bait. I’m usually running 1 or 2 downriggers with a variety of baits. If I’m running one downrigger, I’m usually concentrating on a basic depth of 25 to 30 feet with the bait trailing 50 to 100 feet behind the ball. Once again depending on the size of the bait determines the depth of the bait. If I’m running two downriggers I’m usually running one deeper bait provided the underwater trees allow. If I’m in the river cannel or deeper creek channel, there is usually no structure to the bottom, and I can run my baits deeper. Deeper is usually where the bigger fish hang out. Bigger fish are lazy and let the smaller ones do the work above while the bigger fish grab an occasional scrap or nearby fleeing bait. That is where my deeper downrigger bait comes into play. We generally catch bigger fish on the downriggers. When I’m trolling, I’m looking for active fish on the graph. Over the summer months the thermocline on Lanier usually sets up in July and the top is around 27 to 35 feet. The top is where the bait likes to hang out. They have the safety of being at the edge of the thermocline and they are still getting some oxygen rich water. That’s usually where the action is, right at the top of the thermocline. That’s where the stripers like to feed. Sometimes the stripers work together on a school of bait. A small bunch of stripers will attack the bait sending it scattering and lurker stripers nail the scattering bait from the outskirts of the main bait school. Because of this feeding scenerio, trolling single baits on leadcore and downriggers work well. The single jig looks like a fleeing bait as it goes through the feeding zone.
Right now the most popular feeding zone is 25 to 45 feet on Lanier. When I see fish feeding in the 35-45 depth I want to get my baits down to that area. I set my downrigger weights at 25 and 30-35 feet with a small jig and a larger jig. That’s when I start working the baits up and down. I believe that if you put action on your jigs and get them running up and down in the feeding zone you’re going to catch more fish. I achieve this by slowing, speeding up and turning the boat. Very Important: Keep in mind that you are pulling 275-300 feet of lead filled line. It takes a while for the action you create to get to the jig. You are actually putting waves in the leadcore line and it takes the waves a little while to get out to the jig. Start your action early and often.
Another important tactic I use is marking a school of feeding fish on my graph. As I get over the feeding fish, I’ll lay a mark on my GPS and work that area from different angles. Sometime you won’t get them the first or even the second time through so trying coming from different directions and varying speeds as you go. Very Important: Make sure you keep the baits in line with the fish you marked. I use dead reconing. I usually look at my heading and what’s behind me to stay in line and keep my baits in the right zone. I’ll make left and right turns but always coming back to the imaginary line I made to keep my baits in the right area.