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I'm looking for some assistance with trolling. I'm using wire on a 4.0 Senator and trolling the western sound at speeds between 2-3 mph. I typically use large swimming plugs and periwinkles with some success. I've been trolling with the reel engaged and drag set very loosely. When a fish is on, I tighten the drag while maintaining trolling speed. Is this the correct or preferred method? Would this negatively affect my hook up ratio? I seem to loose a lot of fish that hit the periwinkles - they seem to hit short on the trailer. If I keep the reel in free spool with the clicker on, the clicker continues to go with more line going out, which is kind of annoying. I didn't want to keep the drag set tight for fear of blowing out the drag system on the reel. Any thoughts?

MC
 

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Hey. When I'm trolling, I make sure all the clickers are on. Then, I loosen the drag as much as possible before line starts coming out. This way, any kind of hit will be heard. If you increase speed, or the current/waves change and line starts going out, just tighten the drag until the line stops goin out. Usually, you will easily be able to tell the difference from a hit and just a little line goin out. When I get a hit(and the fish is clearly on) I'll put the engines in neutral and just drift. That keeps tention on the line until I get there, and has always kept fish on. If it's a double, and you're the only one fishing, keep one engine in forward(idle) to prevent slack. Also, when I hear a hit, but it's not on, I'll continue trolling, and pick up the rod and hold it(if I'm not using outriggers)to try and catch it by feel. Hope some of this can help you. Tight Lines!

Mike
 

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too light a drag will cause many missed hookups. This is not baitfishing where you let the fish run. when the fish hits you are counting on the momentum of the boat to drive the hooks in. sometimes, upon a hit, i'll even hit the throttle momentarily to assisit with the hookset. on balance, too tight a drag will strain your tackle since wire doesn't stretch. too much strain can cause broken butts, rodholders, lost fish, etc. moderate drag, sharp hooks, properly working drag will give you the best shot.
 

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Although it's fun to here the clicker scream when the drag is loose, it's not the way to catch fish when trolling wire line and spoons. You should keep the drag set properly and watch the rods. Everyone has their own opinion, but if your drag is loose , you'll lose a lot of fish. You're giving the bass a chance to turn and get leverage on the spoon.
 

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A mate on a charter boat that generally trolls for stripers told of one trip in which he kept telling the passengers reeling in the fish to stay seated and kept the tension on the line. He told them that all a striper needs is one second of slack to escape. They contined to insist on standing up with slack in the line despite repeated advice from the mate. The result was that they lost at least several fish that normally would have been brought on the boat and there was less fish to clean at the end of the day.

Also, every single charter boat that I know of that trolls for stripers keeps the reel locked when trolling and the engine in gear during the time that the fish is being reeled in.
 
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