Trolling for Trout the Ultralight Way
by Dexter

The anticipation for the Trout opening weekend has come and gone and you've got the rest of the season to fish your heart out. You've caught limits upon limits at your local stomping grounds (or lakes) and you're feeling as though fishing is starting to get a little boring. You've been trolling with the same gear every year since grandpa taught you how. How about mixing things up? A slight alteration to your trolling and fishing perspectives when fishing for trout in the many lakes in Washington can yield many more hours of enjoyment.

Sure, you can use just about any rod and reel combo to troll a myriad of lures. But when it comes to the quality of really feeling a fight regardless of the size of trout, there's only one way to go - an ultralight set-up.

Ultralight fishing isn't anything new. However, when you start to put your own twist to this specific way of fishing, it feels all the more satisfying. When I first realized that trolling for trout was effective, I started to tinker with my selection of gear. At this point catching limits isn't my goal. I decided that I wanted to enjoy the first reason why I started to fish - fighting a hooked fish.

Rod and Reel.
Most trout rods can be used to troll. Finding the right one for your own preference is the tricky part. First I tried small 5 to 6 foot whippy rods. Great action, but not enough leverage when I hooked the above average stocked trout. Also, I ended up having to hold the rod all the time while trolling because the grip isn't long enough to fit in my rod holder without falling.

To combat the leverage problem I decided that a long rod would do the trick. A long rod also allowed the rig to be trolled away from the sides of the boat. I experimented with a fly rod that I salvaged when I broke the tip. The rod is a 5 weight and is about 7 foot long (it was originally an 8'6" rod). With a small spinning reel, I was able to catch and land trout up to 18 inches. This particular rod has a fast action and has no problems handling a fight with 4 lb test lines. I love the arc that this rod makes when I've got a fish on. On the negative side, since it's a fly rod where the reels are usually on the end, I was unable to use my rod holders.

Finally, the newest rod I'm experimenting with is a Noodle rod. It's about 9'6" spinning rod. It's got the right type of grip that allows me to put it on a rod holder and it's got the right action and leverage - lots of leverage. This rod handled the typical stocked trout nicely...lots of give and super soft. So far so good. The only caviat is it's not as lightweight as the fly rod.

As for a reel, I'm currently using a Shimano Sedona 1000FA. It's a solid small and compact reel with a great drag system and virtually no play with the bail. The only thing that I do not like with spinning gear is when letting line out, you can open the bail or set your drag on low and pull line out. Either way it may cause twists on your line. I'm probably going to end trying out small baitcasting gear. That'll be another story.

Lures and Hardware
Most of my trolling is flat lining. Meaning, I'm mainly fishing the top part of the water column with no added weights. I'm usually fishing with just a lure or sometimes in combination with very small flashers. The smallest set of flashers I can find that is readily available is Sep's Mini Micro Flashers. They are available with either a Willow or Colorado style blades. The flasher is only 12 inches in length and hardly weighs anything especially when fighting a fish.

For lures, my staples are Vibrax Minnow Spins, Panther Martin Spinners. Sep's Kokanee Candy spoons, Luhr Jensen Needlefish spoons, Worden's Roostertails, Flatfish F4s, Mepps Spinners, small Rapalas, and Flies. I've found that the spoons and spinners are effective on bright sunny days with a little chop on the water. The flies are deadly on bright sunny days with the water like glass. The Rapalas and the Minnow Spins are great for the dark cloudy days. One thing I try to do is to change lures as often and as the conditions change.

Work in Progress
As you can see, it's a work in progress. I don't have any hard and fast rules. I just make observations and mental notes for the nuances of each outing and then see where things can be applied. It's something that I'm looking forward to perfecting. The quality of the experience has gone up a notch and the appreciation for each and every trout caught is remembered. Who knows when I'll finally get to that "perfect" set-up. One thing is certain, I'm going to have lots of fun getting there.

References:
Sep's Pro Fishing