I must admit, catching stripers fishing with wire is one of my least
desirable ways to fish for them. It is tiring to haul them in and it's
frustrating to deal with the wire not getting kinked. It almost seems
like it is cheating in a way. That being said, I still use wire quite
often when targeting big stripers. The reason is simple. Wire line is
probably the most consistent way to come home with a few nice bass in
the cooler. On some days it is the only way that we are able to come
home with those tasty fillets.
My customers expect to come back
to the dock with fish in the box. It's my job to make sure that
happens. The best part of fishing is coming back to the dock with giant
bass and a crowd of people around asking, "How did you do?" Having a
few monster bass to put up on the dock is a great feeling.
people will say it is not very sporting to catch bass on wire, so they
don't even own wire rods. I will be the first to agree. I only bring
them for one reason and one reason only. They produce when nothing else
is working. So when there is no bird activity and you have run out of
lures to toss out there what do you do? When you have searched and
searched for bunker pods and they are nowhere in sight, I get out the
wire gear. When all else fails trolling is the best way to turn a bad
day into a productive one..Â
I learned a long time ago; when something is
not working you need to try something else. I also will confess, as I
feel like I am a sinner admitting I use wire line outfits, that I may
opt to start with wire trolling to locate where the fish are and then I
will switch over to jigging, bait, live herring or bunker. Not starting
with wire when you see limited signs of life can be costly. It is
expensive to fish these days. I look at each day, as a race against the
clock to get my customers into some big bass. I am constantly watching
my Raymarine E120 fish finder looking for bait or stripers. From the
moment I break the inlet I am in overtime mode to get that first fish
I have been collecting data in my fishing log spreadsheet for years.
I keep track of everything from bait or lure used, weather, water
temperature, stomach contents of filleted fish. Fishing is a lot of
luck, but there is a definite science to it. Noticing patterns of fish
behavior is important to consistently catching fish. So I definitely
recommend everyone keep a log. Weather it's electronically in a
spreadsheet like I do or just in a notebook, keep a log! If you learn
nothing else from this article, start keeping track of what you catch,
where you caught it, and most importantly how.
What You Need
are now a believer in using wire outfits for targeting big fat bass,
what do you need? I have two different pairs of rods. When trolling
bunker spoons, I use Tsunami Trophy Series TSTBC 761 HW Wire Line rods
with 4/0 Penn Senator high-speed reels. These outfits are beefy enough
to handle that trophy 50-pound bass and light tipped to get the action
required for effective bunker spoon trolling. Without the rod tip
pulsating you cannot fish with a bunker spoon.
The proper bounce
will get the big spoon dancing like a struggling bunker that Mr. lazy
bass will just love to swallow whole. These are the best rods I have
found that produce that dancing sensation that drives the bass wild.
The guides are made of carbolloy, which is super tough. It is a must,
as regular guides will be ruined in on outing, as the wire will cut a
groove into them.
For trolling umbrella rigs with shads I need something with a little
more beef to it. For this I use Sabre rods by Penn, model BCS 2701 RTC
7 foot rod. This is a stiffer rod, but it is needed to hold the
resistance of the umbrella rigs. They are strong and reliable to get
the job done when the bass are feeding on smaller peanut sized bunker.
On these set ups I use the same Penn Senator 4/0 reels. These reels
have brass chrome plated spools. Do not buy with graphite or plastic
spools, as the wire will destroy them.
Stainless Steel or Monel?
fill the spools with a good 50-pound mono backing. Doing this is
critical; otherwise the wire will spin on the spool. After about 150
feet of the backing I connect the mono to the wire with a haywire twist
and then an Albright knot. I never use stainless steel wire, as it is
too tough to work with. If it gets a kink in it and you will get those,
it is too brittle and will break if worked back and forth on the same
So, the next choice available is monel. It is much softer and
more forgiving to the abuse it will take. I use 300 feet of Malin soft
monel trolling wire hat is marked every 50 feet. In the old days, I had
to bring my rods to the local park and had my kids run my pre-measured
100-foot increments totaling 300 feet. I would then take short pieces
of different colored telephone wire to wrap around at 100-foot
intervals. Much easier these days to just buy the pre-marked wire
instead of going to the park and having people give you some really
The line markings are so important. It allows you to
control the lure and put it in the strike zone where the fish are
feeding. Basic rule is for every 50 feet you let out the lure will go
down about 5 feet. So, with 300 feet I can get it down 30 feet deep. Of
course you can also add weight to get down a bit deeper as well.
At the end of the wire I again connect with an Albright knot, about
8-12 feet 0f 80-pound fluorocarbon leader material. At the end of the
leader I attach a heavy duty ball bearing coast-lock snap swivel from
Spro in the 165-200-pound class with an improved clinch knot. A good
swivel is required to ensure no line twist and good lure action.
Lures to Drag
I know the bass were feeding on larger bunker, then I gear up with my
lighter outfits set up for bunker spoons. I usually start with two
different size bunker spoons and of two different colors. I will put
out a 8-inch and an 6-inch spoon. One being white and the other one
chrome is where I like to start. I have tried multiple colored bunker
spoons and these two colors usually are all I ever use. Some days the
chrome works better and some days white works better. That's why I put
out both colors. If I find the bass to be a bit finicky or I may opt to
go down in size of the spoons, even as short as 4-inch spoons. Nothing
is better however for huge bass than large 10-12-inch bunker spoons. I
am always targeting bigger bass, so I always have them in my arsenal.Â
Nothing beats the action of Tony Majas Bunker spoons.Â Besides their
incredible action they are heavily weighted which makes even the
smaller sized ?Peanut Bunker? troll nicely.Â I have also stopped and
jigged with them.Â Very effective!
When the bass are feeding on
smaller peanut sized bunker, I use shad umbrella rigs. These I rig up
myself with 6-inch rubber shads on 9/0 Mustad O'shaughnessy hooks. The
leaders on the umbrellas are rigged with heavier 150-pound mono. The
heavier leader doesn't seem to distract the fish from swallowing the
shads. But it is also good insurance to have when the blues are in the
mix. I rig my umbrellas with only 5 shads total. Any more and the drag
on the rod is just unbearable. Each of the four arms has about
12-18-inch leader with a hooked shad.
Down the middle it is
important to rig the leader to trail behind the leading four. I usually
make that leader about 24 to 36 inches long. That trailing shad is what
the big lazy boys will hone in on 9 times out of 10. Sometimes I will
opt to go with a larger 8 or 10-inch shad down the middle when there
are larger cows in the area. It is not unusual to catch more than on
bass on at the same time or a combination off bass and blues.
have successfully landed a full house of 5 bass only one time. Getting
two or three on at a time is likely when the schools are concentrated.
They just can't resist the action of these little swimming schools of
rubber. Now as far as color of shads, I run mostly white. I have
experimented with many colors and white is my all time favorite. I will
still try different colors at times, but my favorite still remains the
same as its what they seem to enjoy as well.
I have also used sand
eel tube umbrella rigs with some success, especially if there are a lot
of sand eels around. Always take notice o what a fish is spitting up
when bringing them boat side. If sand eels are in their gut then these
rigs are definitely the way to go. I will at times just for kicks throw
out a longer tube or banana lure in the mix if nothing else is coaxing
Where to Go
This is simple. Go
where the fish are. 90% of the fish are in only a 10% area of the
ocean. So keeping a good log like I talked about earlier is so
important. Fish are creatures of habit and instinct. If they were in an
area they were last year, then odds are they will probably be there
next year. But this holds true only if there is bait there. If there
are no bait in the area then there will not be any fish.
one eye on your fish finder constantly. I run two Raymarine E-120's
with a HD fish finder. I am constantly tuning the gain and zoom to
extract as much detail as possible so I can try and figure out what
exactly is down there and what they are feeding on. Looking for good
bottom structure is important as well. Bass will lie by structure to
ambush their prey with the least amount of effort on their part as
possible. So a good bottom contour is a good thing to find. Once you
find the bait, I would start trolling. Its worth it at this point to
slow the boat down and let out your lines.
I use a rod rigger on
each side of the boat and let the lines out to where you are marking
fish and bait. I usually start by keeping the lures about 5 feet above
the zone of where they are. Use the marks on your wire to get the lures
down to the exact attack zone. Keep the clicker on and just keep
watching the sonar as the bottom changes. You may have to adjust up or
down if you are working fish tight to the bottom.
the reel is screaming what do you do now? MARK THE SPOT! That is the
most important thing to remember. I see so many people just keep
trolling straight for miles. Where there is one bass there is probably
a lot more. After landing the fish, get the line right back in the
water. Take note of the color and size of the lure and put it right
back out there. I will then circle back around to get right back in
Sometimes the fish will only strike when the boat is moving
in a certain direction. This is because the bass is so lazy. They are
just waiting in a certain direction with their mouth wide open and
tongue out for the next fish to come just inches from their face, so
they can grab it. If you get consistent strikes from on lure and not
the other. Use two of the same lure. Also, keep the boat moving as a
lot of times you will pick up another one near by. By not stopping you
also prevent the wire line from sinking to the bottom and snagging on
The basic rule here is to change it up. I am very
impatient, as I race the clock to get some keeper bass on board. So I
keep changing what I use and the presentation if were not getting
bites. Don't ever give up. You can catch bass consistently with wire
gear. There is simply no better way to cover a lot of ground searching
for bass as when you are trolling with wire. When the action heats up,
then I switch over to more conventional ways to catch big bass.
is no excuse to come back to the dock without catching a bass. I never
leave the dock without bringing my wire line outfits when I am off to
seek bass. Give it a try. You just might become a believer like I did.
See Discussion on this topic HERE
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at (609) 384-0781