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Good Report! Fishing is Not just about catching fish. It will take you a few trips to get over-the-hump.....but....then the Light will go on!

I started Trolling for Trout....in earnest....just a few short years ago. I know how this will sound.....but....I really am Surprised now ....when they Don't bite! This will happen to you as well.....if you keep putting the time in. Our Mountain Lakes are Healthy and full of Trout. Weather may have affected your trips.

It's really Not Complicated. The things that you think are important now....you will laugh at later. Find the Fish! You can Troll your favorite Lure all day..... if the Trout never see it.....Nevermind. Trout can be finicky,,,,but, Stockers are flat out Dumb! I just read a study that found the Average Lifespan of a Stocked Trout (60%)...is Less than One Week! They are Welfare for the animals and fisherman. Also....the Majority of new stockers stay near the ramp where they were stocked for Months! I can attest to that on Bear Lake.....as there is usually a swarm of 10-12 inch fish near the ramp in the Fall. I see guys throwing Spinners getting their seven.

There's a Wealth of knowledge on here....and we'll continue to help you!

Best of Luck!....D
 

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Okay....a few quick thoughts after reading your report again. It's not your Motor....I troll with a 60 HP Yamaha.....and I've caught Trout 20 ft behind the boat....almost in the prop wash. It's not your motor.

If your dodger is on the surface.....your rig is wrong. You'll need about an ounce of weight on your trolling sinker. You can control the depth by the amount of line you let out. Make sure you put a foot of line between the trolling sinker and dodger. You want it to "flash" freely....wobbling back and forth. This is what attracts trout to your lure. I use about 4 ft of line between the dodger and lure. An F7 Rapala, small Kastmaster Spoon, a Spinner or a Hoochie with a crawler should do the trick.

It sounds like you've found fish in the 15 to 20 ft range already. Keep letting out more line until you start getting hits and your rod tip starts to bounce.

Hope this helps....D
 

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A few things to try...

Try gulp crawlers on a plain size 6 light wire hook. Main line 6 pound, use 4-6 pound line and around 3' as leader with a good swivel, and a few split shot to get it down to the fish.
Start with 3 split shot on the mail line next to the swivel and add from there. Power worms are good too. These are cheap rigs that allow you to learn the lake and not break the bank when you get hung.

Speed should be around 1-1.7 mph, most of the time. Until you get bites, gentle turns should be used to find out what speed the fish want. To make it simple, the line should only be directly behind the boat for a minute or so at a time. This keeps the speed changing if the rod is out to the side of the boat, slowing on the inside turn, speeding up on the outside of the turn.
Only turn a few degrees, just enough to not go directly over the fish that will see your baits.

In clear water I would start with 100'-110' of line out. Vary this if you are not getting bites.

I like your fishing rig, but trolling with the gas motor in a narrow boat and having the tiller directly behind you while sitting may be the most uncomfortable position on the planet for me.
If you can offset the motor to one side, or the tiller, or a combination, you will be more comfortable for much longer.

Trolling like this will get a bit of everything, so don't be surprised if you get Trout, Bass, Walleye, Crappie, Perch, White Bass, on and on.
 

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I think that the past several mornings were not the best mornings to fish given the bright full and nearly full moon nights. The fish will feed at night quite a bit on these days. I think the daylight fishing is usually better in the afternoon till evening on such days but that's too hot for me. Still I'm surprised you didn't catch something. I'm curious why you think you need a trolling weight for the Rapalas? If I wanted to fish them some deeper I'd fish their Countdown models or use my 4 color lead line rod. I have a long leader on it, 100 - 120 feet. That way I don't need to put out all that much lead line and still get the 175 -200 feet behind the boat that I like and not get snagged very often.

Regarding the flows out of Fontana this time of year, it will always be heavy. TVA drops Fontana about 4 - 8 inches per day starting 1 September. The flows can get extra heavy if it rains above average. August through October are usually the driest months of the year. The recent tropical remnants have Fontana virtually full again. They'll soon start running 9,000 CFPS 18 - 24 hours a day. I think they've slowed down these last couple of days a bit because of heavy flow in the lower Tennessee River. It appears they dropped Fontana a bit extra for a week before the tropical remnants came. I think that TVA employs a flock of weathermen.

I don't think that downrigger hum bothers the fish. You could fish plugs on the downrigger. I frequently do so at Watauga when the Laker bite is really deep. Downriggers work well for any lure. Just don't put a plug on it that dives really deep unless you're in the deep parts of Watauga or Fontana. I like plugs that dive 10 feet or less on the downrigger. I like the Rapala Scatter Rap plugs on the downrigger because they move from side to side. They don't look like they're being trolled straight. I think that a flasher in front of a spoon makes the spoon seem less straight too. When I troll spoons without a flasher I do try to zig and zag a bit. I vary my speed a lot. I have the trolling speed module that changes my speed 50 RPM up or down by pushing the buttons. It works up to 950 RPM. Is your motor too old to get one? Many Mercury and Yamaha models have a module to add one built in.

I hope you fare better next time out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 · (Edited)
It's not your Motor....I troll with a 60 HP Yamaha.....and I've caught Trout 20 ft behind the boat....almost in the prop wash. It's not your motor.
Good to know . At low idle speed the motor is fairly quiet. As far as water disturbance, not much difference from the electric trolling motor.

If your dodger is on the surface.....your rig is wrong.
So I have my main line (braid) tied to the front swivel. I assume it's the front. It has multiple holes you can attach the swivel to make it plane outwards I think, one hole with swivel which, I assume, is at the back. To this I attached a 8 lb fluorocarbon leader with hoochie.


You'll need about an ounce of weight on your trolling sinker. You can control the depth by the amount of line you let out. Make sure you put a foot of line between the trolling sinker and dodger. You want it to "flash" freely....wobbling back and forth.
I attached the Mack's Double D directly to my line, no inline weight. This I attached to the downrigger lowered to the depth I was marking fish. I DID have that rig fairly far back, I'd guess maybe 60-75' behind the downrigger weight. I did not think I needed an inline weight while using the downrigger, but perhaps that's the issue.(?) I can certainly see where an inline weight directly in front of the dodger would keep it down, just didn't realize that was needed when using the downrigger.

It sounds like you've found fish in the 15 to 20 ft range already. Keep letting out more line until you start getting hits and your rod tip starts to bounce.
Makes sense

Hope this helps....D
Yes it does! Thank you for taking the time, motivation for going back!

A few things to try...

Try gulp crawlers on a plain size 6 light wire hook. Main line 6 pound, use 4-6 pound line and around 3' as leader with a good swivel, and a few split shot to get it down to the fish.
Start with 3 split shot on the mail line next to the swivel and add from there. Power worms are good too. These are cheap rigs that allow you to learn the lake and not break the bank when you get hung.
One thing I have but didn't try was a simple walley rig, just a spinner and couple hooks for a crawler, which would work with artificial crawlers as well.

Speed should be around 1-1.7 mph, most of the time. Until you get bites, gentle turns should be used to find out what speed the fish want. This keeps the speed changing if the rod is out to the side of the boat, slowing on the inside turn, speeding up on the outside of the turn.
This makes sense, and I did realize this. It is also particularly noticeable with the downrigger cable changing "pitch" with speeding up or slowing down. It would also slightly change the depth, i.e. bait sinking deeper with slow down, rising up a bit with speed up.


I like your fishing rig, but trolling with the gas motor in a narrow boat and having the tiller directly behind you while sitting may be the most uncomfortable position on the planet for me.
If you can offset the motor to one side, or the tiller, or a combination, you will be more comfortable for much longer.

The Gheenoe has a very narrow stern. Only about 3" on each side of the motor mounts so it has to be pretty much centered. The tiller handle IS offset to the left, and I use a long tiller extension which allows stand-up driving. With that extension I can sit facing forward and the handle actually hangs under my left arm and extends in front of me. Having said that, Saturday I left the long extension and only had a short one. Even with that, you are CORRECT, it quickly became uncomfortable half way twisted around to the left looking at my sonar on the right!

Trolling like this will get a bit of everything, so don't be surprised if you get Trout, Bass, Walleye, Crappie, Perch, White Bass, on and on.
I'm ready for ANYthing! My interest in this is one of hoping this can develop into some favorable Summertime fishing options. I love fishing the swamps and blackwater rivers in the SC lowcountry and can even tolerate the gators, cottonmouths, and wasps, but it's too blasted hot this time of year!

I think that the past several mornings were not the best mornings to fish given the bright full and nearly full moon nights. The fish will feed at night quite a bit on these days.
I've seen them my whole life, but just this year started making notes and following Solunar tables. Full moon and new moon (roughly 2 weeks apart) are usually the "peak" times for activity. The weeks in between which roughly correlates with waxing and waning phases, are usually the "weak" times for activity. There are a lot of people who swear and declare the crappie spawn, shellcracker and bluegill spawn, etc. is tied to the full moon. This far, I have not been able to see any real pattern to the activity. I've had some decent fishing during the in between phases and lousy fishing on full or new moon phases. So who knows? But what you say makes sense to me and it may also apply to, for instance, deer hunting. That is, with a bright full moon, even animals adapted to night vision...which is the majority of animals and fish, bright nights just lend itself to more active round the clock feeding. In the case of fish, there may even be some food sources that are more active, and thus readily available at, night. I don't know that, just a thought.

I think the daylight fishing is usually better in the afternoon till evening on such days but that's too hot for me.
Yeah, by then I'm ready to get out of the heat.

Still I'm surprised you didn't catch something.
So am I. I'm a fairly proficient fisherman but this trout trolling is totally new ground to me. Still, I expected to stumble into some isolated dumb and unsophisticated stocker at some point!

I'm curious why you think you need a trolling weight for the Rapalas? If I wanted to fish them some deeper I'd fish their Countdown models...
I don't have a lead core setup yet. Since I was marking most fish 10''-15', and some a bit deeper, using standard Rapalas, or even countdowns, I assumed to get them down in the 10-15' range would require additional weight. Even a countdown doesn't retrieve at that depth, I don't believe. I have a few big lipped deep divers that claim 10-13' but I didn't use them. I kept the Rapalas small, 5-7 size and most of deep divers are a bit bigger than that.

...or use my 4 color lead line rod. I have a long leader on it, 100 - 120 feet. That way I don't need to put out all that much lead line and still get the 175 -200 feet behind the boat that I like and not get snagged very often.
I tentatively plan to get a lead core setup. The "tentative" part being, I want to have some success and know this is something I'll enjoy. Can't imagine I won't, as I never have NOT liked catching fish. While I realize it's called "fishing" and not "catching" I can also say I definitely do not like NOT catching fish! So, if I start getting the hang of things and having some success, I'll look into a lead core setup.

I don't think that downrigger hum bothers the fish.
I've read of people who seem to really find it irritating. So far it doesn't bother me, in fact, you can tell by the pitch when it speeds up or slows down.

You could fish plugs on the downrigger. I frequently do so at Watauga when the Laker bite is really deep. Downriggers work well for any lure. Just don't put a plug on it that dives really deep unless you're in the deep parts of Watauga or Fontana. I like plugs that dive 10 feet or less on the downrigger. I like the Rapala Scatter Rap plugs on the downrigger because they move from side to side.
I'd think most any shallow running plug would be fine, hence my comments above on the Rapala. I just trolled the hoochie because it was a different option and it was easy to rig the Rapala behind an inline weight.

I have the trolling speed module that changes my speed 50 RPM up or down by pushing the buttons. It works up to 950 RPM. Is your motor too old to get one? Many Mercury and Yamaha models have a module to add one built in.
I have a 2020 Mercury. I have not looked into this module. Some things are available for larger motors that are not available for a little 9.9. But again I've not looked into it, and really don't know what I'm looking for, but I'd be very interested. As it is, switching in and out of gear isn't a great deal and definitely switches up the speed. And as you know, dragging a drift bag does the trick as well. There are some small drift bags that would work, but the module you mention would be much better.

I hope you fare better next time out!
I hope so too! I'll keep giving it my best shot, thanks!
So first of all, thank you very much, each of you for taking the time! Seriously I really appreciate it. I'll keep on plugging away and try to figure it out & I'm sure they'll be some successes soon, especially with your help. It is a bit of a significant ride up to the area of Calderwood from my area, (Hendersonville) 2 1/2 hours minimum. When I go down to the Santee area(3 hours), I usually rent a cabin and stay a day or two. There are some campgrounds up there and I'm sure, economically priced accommodations somewhere around the area. So maybe I'll do a two day or three day trip. The "Gems" are a little closer, 1 1/2 - hours max.

Well, all this has taken up my lunch break and then some. Back to work!
 

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So.....just to clear up one thing. You should Not need a trolling weight in front of your Dodger.....If it's on a Downrigger. You might want to try a different smaller dodger .... until you get the hang of things. I personally don't use a downrigger.....but, several others on here use them successfully and can be of more help there.

Find yourself a Rock or Hump in 15-20 ft of water on your electronics. Tie on a one ounce trolling sinker with no lure. Make a few passes and see if you can hit it (bottom) at 1.5 mph. Make a note of your speed and how much line you have out when you finally make contact. This will give you some valuable information....D
 

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Brookfield is sluicing a lot of water into the Cheoah River the past two days. Calderwood might be good to fish. I've had good fortune fishing Calderwood and Chilhowee when they're slightly tinted. In both lakes the tint is hard to detect the tint in last couple of miles before the dams. I've never seen either lakes trashed and very tinted all the way down lake. The last time I fished Calderwood with tinted water, I caught a 5 pound Brown. I've done even better at Chilhowee in tinted water. One time my limit of Trout had 3 over 20". I think I caught a legal size Smallmouth that day, 20+ inches. Legal size is 18". I remember another time where I caught a pair of 4.5 Rainbows and more Bass than usual too.

Brookfield has been sending 2900+ CFPS down the Cheoah Riverr and generating too. Calderwood is generating at around it's max and sluicing about 1650 CFPC. Chilhowee is running over 14,000. I'm not sure if they can generate that without opening one gate slightly, probably...??? I know that Chilhowee can generate about 12,400 CFPS without opening a gate. It has 3 generators. Cheoah and Calderwood can't do much over 10,000 without opening a gate.

I bet Santeetlah Lake might fish a little better than average unless it's very tinted...???
 

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The lakes are about back to closer to about average operations. Fontana will run heavy for several days going forward. Fontana will start running 24-7 soon for a while till they get caught up on dropping the lake. If anybody wants to fish Cheoah, the Browns like the area of a half-mile above the Santeetlah Powerhouse. to about a half-mile downstream of Twenty Mile Creek. They hit best when Santeetlah is generating, generally.

I'll probably try Chilhowee or Calderwood sometime soon. I'm leaning towards Chilhowee because I like catching some Bass and I've caught so few at Calderwood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
So I figured the inline weight combined with the dodger was just "crossed wires" in my brain but wanted to clarify. I don't know why that dodger planed up to the surface at Tanassee. Maybe it did have a stick on the line which fell loose as I reeled in. Something I'll check going forward. Tanassee was/is a disaster with the level of debris washed in. I don't see it going away, I believe it will have to be cleaned out. But there are log jams, washed out roads, and landslides all over the Pisgah region so IF it has to be cleaned out I think that will be on down the road.

And as far as water flow to the 3 below Fontana/Santeetlah, I thought this was one of the scheduled high flow release weekends but just checked and the next scheduled is in early October. Maybe Ida dropped more water in that area and they had to release as I'm not sure the area had "normalized" from the flooding from Fred three weeks ago.
Regardless, it being a holiday weekend, I'll stay off the lakes this week. I'd like to go back to Calderwood soon. Maybe next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
And am I correct, the ramp just downstream of the bridge below Fontana dam the only put-in on Cheoah?
 

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There might be a small ramp at the camping area upstream on the other side. It might not be public if they have one. I would suggest the main ramp. It's got a dock and ample parking. One ought to be able to launch a kayak at Twenty Mile Creek. There may have once been a small gravel ramp there. I think it was torn up, on purpose.

Cheoah and Calderwood are places you can fish on holidays. Nobody wake boards them. There's probably more folks camping than average but no blow outs unless the river runners are on the Cheoah River. River running would not have been safe a few days back! Brookfield adds about 800 - 1000 CFPS for those events. The Cheoah River is probably still running a bit higher than usual just on the feeder streams that flow in but nothing like the 2900 CFPS Brookfield released. Slickrock Creek is probably still running high. Earlier today Calderwood was sluicing. On the Brookfield site, the Goat Creek release is how much water Calderwood is releasing into the mile of river between the dam and the powerhouse. If it's more than about 160 CFPS, they're sluicing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 · (Edited)
So leadcore is something new and different to me. I do not yet have a setup. I'm curious about a few things using it though.
How much leader do you use with it?
Wouldn't leader length affect depth?
How much of the leadcore line is actually in the water and wouldn't that dictate the depth?
How DO you determine the depth of your bait using leadcore?
I realize you'd normally use it with a linecounter reel but would that actually translate into depth considering trolling speed and water resistance? (I assume one could run a test as described in post #46 above.)
I see there are colored lines, each color representing a certain length of line. But again, how does that translate into depth?
 

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Each color of lead line is 10 yards. Each color of lead line will take you down 5-6 feet. 6 feet if you're going really slow. Determine how deep you want to fish, say forty feet, you need 8 colors unless your lure has diving ability to add on. If your lure is a light flutter spoon, your added dive is about zero. If you pull a plug with a diving lip it could be another 5-25 feet added especially if you have a fairly long leader. I like my leaders to be between 60 to 120 feet. A long leader is best in relatively shallow lakes where you don't want too much lead line out. It's also good in deep water where you want to fish a diving plug to get very deep. I like my lead line presentations to be 180-220 feet behind the boat.

Chilhowee Lake is the shallowest lake I fish with lead line. I rigged an outfit just for fishing Chilhowee with hoochies. It has 4 colors and 120 feet of leader. It also has backing before the lead line. In Chilhowee I never want more than 4 colors out. Most of the lake is 45 feet or less deep. When I troll upstream and get to the part that's only 30-35 feet deep I'll pull in one color.

The Jay Fair trolling fly system has two main variations, 2 colors or half a color. He actually will go beyond 2 colors of lead line occasionally for the heat of summer if you watch his hour long video. Jay Fair developed his techniques mostly for shallow lake trolling in the Pacific northwest in lakes that don't get really hot tops in the summer. The 2 color line is supposed to swing under the half color line on a turn. It's meant for dual line trolling behind relatively small boats. The lure is always a fly that looks somewhat like a Wholly Worm. He calls his fly patterns Wholly Flashers. They're mostly shades of oranges and browns. He doesn't use flashers. To give action to the flies he holds his rod and rolls his wrist around in a small circle.

I think you could use Jay's flies with flashers and put your rods in rod holders. You could probably do his whole system except use hoochies instead of flies. I think his system is interesting and thought provoking. How many colors of lead line do you need? Maybe as few as half or two or four or six or more. How deep is the lake and how hot is the top in summer.

I tried to put a link to Jay Fair's uTube video but it didn't work. Google it. It's worth watching.
 

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I shared my setup last year with a good friend. We were in different boats. We trolled the Same locations (I provided). I gave him one of my Custom Hoochies....the Same one I was using. On a half dozen passes that morning.....I caught four trout.....he didn't get a strike? Details matter. Our rigs were close....but, not the same. I Learned again.

Use 12 lb lead core.....I use Sufix. Use a Ball Bearing Swivel at the end.....it will save your line. Do the exercise I described earlier. Find a spot with a known depth....15-20 ft....and try to "touch" it. It will be eye opening for you.

Try it with a trolling weight....one ounce, two ounce.....and/or a diving plug. You can do it with braid or lead core. I began by trolling Dipsey Divers on braid. I switched to lead core.... and I no longer need them.

I generally troll with 70-150ft of lead core out......a 1-3 ounce trolling sinker.....an attractor and 4-5 ft leader with the lure of the day. I can get to 50 ft at 1.5 mph (tested).....but usually troll around 20-25 ft depth...Most of the time. It has caught hundreds of Trout for me over the last few years.

That's a Lot of Specific Information for you. Do the Test. I'll bet what you "Think" you're doing is different from what you're Actually doing. Your "Aha" moment is coming. Have Fun....Trout Trolling only gets Better as the weather cools....D
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
Well in typical fashion the old cliche' , "There's more than one way to skin a cat." obviously applies.

I'm checking out the Jay Fair video, found it on YouTube though haven't had a chance to watch any of it yet.

I also believe testing will indeed produce evidence on just what's happening down there. When I chart fish, multiple fish, and troll right through the middle of them multiple times with no results, obviously something is wrong.
I realize fish don't always "bite" and trout particularly can be finicky especially when keying in on a particular food source. But at the same time, fish can only afford to be choosy in very limited amounts and are largely opportunistic. And being predators, oftentimes strike when hunger or need has nothing to do with it.

Probably for sure, "what I think I'm doing vs. what I'm actually doing" isn't squaring. I will run that test the next time I'm out.
Thank you to you both for all the helpful information and explanations!
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 · (Edited)
I see various types of leadcore. Some considerably less expensive than Suffix. However, I don't know about others, but I have learned Suffix produces charts to take away some of the guess work out of it. I think it should be regarded as guidelines and not hard and fast data as I believe there are a number of variables that could alter the depths. But it may be more accurate than I think and at least it is a starting point.

And perhaps a dumb question but if the leadcore is color coded in incremental lengths, why use a line counter reel?

Here is a Suffix chart.
Font Number Circle Screenshot
 

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That chart is good when your lure has little sink or dive. Using diving plugs with lead line will always involve some guess work particularly if you have a "balloon" of lead line on your rig. A balloon would be say your leader, X numbers of colors, and then using your backing as trolling line too. I dabble with such rigs at Watauga trying to get plugs down without having to put out 8-10 colors.
 

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The line counter will tell you how much leader and will be particularly valuable when putting leader line on your reel. Since I have counters the colors are not as valuable but most lead line comes in alternating colors. You will see lead line in single colors occasionally. I think that some Walleye fishermen like single color for balloon rigs...??? I recommend Tuff line. I can't say it's better than other brands other than it's way easier to tie Willis Knots with it.

I've had big trouble with Woodstock and Suffix lines doing the Willis Knot. You break out the lead core about 1.5 to 2 inches from the lead line. You start a single knot on the lead line but leave it loose. You take the mono line and slide it inside the hollowed space of the lead line. Then you pull the single knot tight on the inserted mono section. The problem I've had with Suffix and Woodstock, which seem like they're using the same design, is the end of the lead sheath frays badly and the mono line comes out the side of the lead sheath before I can get it in far enough.

Woodstock used to sell prefabricated lead line with backing, 5 or 10 colors, and 50 feet of leader. That's how I got started using lead line. It's been about 5 years since they last offered such. I wear 2.75X glasses when I thread Willis Knots. You need to get the mono line in about 1.25-1.5 inches into the sheath.
 

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I never tie to a leader. I use a simple Palomar Knot to tie on a Ball Bearing Snap Swivel. I won't touch that knot again for the whole trip....or even a few trips. Tie it Once and Tie it right and let the snap swivel handle the work. The Dacron is all that matters and has All the strength.

I've said this many times before....I like things Very Simple. I can change weights and lures quickly (and I Do). As far as the Lead Core Colors....I could care less....I only use the Line Counter. Ninety percent of the time I have just two lines out....with one ounce of weight....one at 75 ft out and one at 90 ft out....both running 20-25ft deep. Easy Peezy. Let the Trout tell you what they want......and adjust from there.

If I could only have a line counter reel with Braid ....or Lead Core with No line counter......Line Counter reel with braid by a Mile!!! You can buy line counters separately and attach them to your current rod.

I believe you're overthinking this......but, that's all a part of the Fun!.....Best of Luck!....D
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
I believe you're overthinking this......
Ha! You're right. My OCD is an advantage in my work, leading to attention to fine details which makes me good at what I do. On the other hand, I DO indeed tend to overthink things, but at the same time, it is part of the fun to me. That is to learn as much as possible in as short of a time as possible. Its always exciting to learn something new and different.
My opportunity to get up to the area lakes we're talking about can be a bit difficult considering the distance. So I want to be as prepared as possible and not waste a lot of time with trial & error or unproductive techniques.
YouTube and the internet are great but there's nothing like first hand and local info to shorten the learning curve. I just hope I'm not wearing you and Troutgirl out. I really appreciate all of the help!
 
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