Rumor has it the bite is on fire! You head out to the lake and start cruising around at a steady 20 mph while watching the screen of your Lowrance HDS with great anticipation. You know that any second now you should start marking fish. Sure enough, they’re there! You circle around to set up to troll with the wind. Yet after deploying the planer boards and making a few passes over them with the same cranks that have been working for your buddies, you can’t get a hit. To make matters worse, a few more boats have showed up and nets are flying everywhere. What was supposed to be a great day on the water has now turned into frustration.
What is everybody else doing differently than you?
There is a good chance that they have their baits running at a different depth in the water column.
Positioning a crank at the right depth is critical for success! There are two scenarios to consider.
If you are fishing structure, such as a big reef, shoreline break or a drop-off on a flat, you will want to run your baits close to bottom. The fish use the structure as a hiding place while they wait to ambush any baitfish that come by along the floor of the lake.
If you are chasing suspended fish, you will have to move the opposite way. These fish eat in an upward direction, so you will want to position the bait above the arches on the screen. If you are fishing too low, the fish literally can’t see the bait!
So how do you get your bait in the right spot in the water column?
The answer is literally right at your fingertips!
The data to tell you how much line you need to let out to get a specific crankbait to the right depth has been around for decades. Precision Trolling Data (PTD) previously published a book nicknamed the “Trollers Bible” before transitioning the information over to a smartphone app several years ago.
The app, which is available on both IOS and Android, is simple to use. Begin by picking the type of line you are using, such as #10 Berkley Trilene XL, 10# Berkley FireLine, etc. If you don’t use the lines listed in the app, choose a line type with a similar diameter to the line you have spooled up. Then tell the app what type of lure you are using and the depth you would like the lure to be at in the water column. The app will tell you how much line you need to let out.
Now you know how to get your bait where you want it, but there is another problem. The “hot” bait hits the maximum depth it is designed to dive and you need it to go deeper. How can you accurately get it where it needs to be?
There are several options for adding weight to your rig to get it to go deeper, such as snap weights, lead core line, inline weights and dipsies. The catch is that each of these diving devices are speed dependent. Slower speeds allow the device to get deeper, while faster speeds will make the device rise in the water column.
For situations like this, a new feature on the PTD trolling app comes to the rescue! Over the past year PTD spent considerable time and resources, including using an underwater diver, to gather data on the most versatile diving device – the Offshore Snap Weight, specifically the one with the 2 ounce Guppy Weight. This device is very simple to use. Just let out a leader of line, clip on the snap weight, and then let out a dropper line. Obviously, the bait will dive to a certain depth with just the leader, but the more line you let out for the dropper, the deeper the snap weight will go, and correspondingly, the deeper the crankbait will end up running.
PTD gathered data for 16 of the most popular walleye crankbaits paired with a snap weight. The initial data was gathered with a 50-foot leader of 10# Berkley Trilene XT (which is considered the most popular trolling line on the market, especially for open water) with a 2 ounce snap weight attached. This method has been dubbed the “50 Plus 2” method. Tests were done at two speeds; 1.5 mph and 2.5 mph. The crankbaits were then tested with varying droppers out to 100 feet.
Now let’s step back for a moment. In the past, most of us went on the theory that in this type of system, no matter what bait was used, the snap weight would end up diving to the same depth, then the crank bait would dive below that. By taking the depth of the snap weight on the dropper length, then adding the depth the lure dives on the leader length, you would think you’d get close to the total running depth of the crankbait.
The new tests show that although the old method got you in the ball park, it could be as much as ten feet off. This variance can be huge, especially when targeting suspended fish. It turns out that the snap weight, as with other weighted systems, runs at different depths based on the type of crankbait being used – a shallow, medium or deep diver. To accurately gather the data, PTD tested each crankbait/snap weight combo separately to get an accurate charting of the total dive depth. This is great data!
Now to use the data. When you find yourself in a situation where you need to run a lure deeper than it can dive on its own, open the Precision Trolling App. Select the type of line “10# Berkley XT / 50 foot leader 2 ounce snap weight.” Then select the speed you are trolling and the depth you would like the bait to run. The app will then tell you the total amount of line to let out (leader plus dropper).
Let’s look at an example. A #7 Berkley Flicker Shad has a maximum dive depth of 14 feet on 10# Berkley Trilene XT. To do this you would have to let out 131 feet of line. Let’s say we want to fish this lure 18 feet down at 2.5 mph. You would change the line type to “10# Berkley Trilene XT / 50 foot leader 2 ounce snap weight” and roll the MPH wheel to 2.5 mph. Next you would roll the “Feet Down” wheel to 18. The app will display the “Feet Back” as 78. The 78 refers to the total amount of line out. To fish this lure at 18 feet down you would let out the #7 Flicker Shad and 50 feet of line. Then attach the Off Shore 2 ounce snap weight. Then add another 28 feet of “dropper” for a total of 78 feet.
You can run the lure right behind the boat (make sure the rod tip is close to the water surface) or attach it to an Off Shore inline planer board to send the setup out to the side of the boat. It is important to remember that the board attached at 78 feet will not affect the depth the lure is diving, no matter how far out from the side of the boat you run the board.
You may have noticed that we are able let out less line to run the bait 18 feet down (78 feet of line), than we need to let out to get down to 14 feet on its own (131 feet of line). This means that there is less line to reel in when you get a fish, making you more efficient. For this reason, there are times that we add a snap weight to our trolling set up, not just to get deeper, but so we can let out less line.
This app is available on the Google Play Store and on the Apple App Store. Just search for Precision Trolling Data and install the app for free. The app comes with one lure (the Berkley #7 Flicker Shad) so you can try out the functionality of the app. If you find it useful you can purchase additional lure data individually or you can purchase a lifetime membership and get all the data that is currently tested as well as any data that is gathered in the future.
Snap weights have been around for years, but with the new Precision Trolling Data it will help take all your cranks to new depths and get you…The Next Bite.