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Fishing With Lead Core, An Introduction On Line, Reel And How To Use It

Updated on April 10, 2014

So you are out on boat and want to catch some of the fish suspended in deeper water. There are many methods you can choose, but I'd like to give you an introduction on fishing using lead core line. What is it? Lead core fishing line is a braided line, wrapped around a soft lead core. The lead gives the line weight to allow your lure to get down to where the fish are without using extra weights.

A typical lead core set up consists of a stiff fishing pole, which can handle the weight of the line and a large level wind style reel that has a high capacity. This capacity is important because lead core line is much thicker than monofilament or fluorocarbon line of a similar strength. A handy feature for the reel is a line counter that makes it easier to know how much line you have out and repeat it once you are into the fish.

Salmon Lures

Trolling With Lead Core Line
Trolling With Lead Core Line

First Off, What Is Trolling?

Lead Core line is used primarily for trolling. What is trolling? Trolling is essentially using your boat, raft, kayak, etc, to move your bait for you. Generally you will let out a set amount of line and leave it out while you are moving along the water at .5 - 2 miles per hour. The movement could come from your motor, a sail or even just drifting using wind or current.

Trolling gives your lure the same movement that it would have if you were casting and retrieving it. It also has a big advantage in that you can cover much larger portions of a lake by trolling. You could in fact, troll all the way around a smaller lake. This puts your bait in front of more fish than you can get to from the shore.

When combined with a fish finder, you can locate where schools of fish are congregating and work those areas from different directions. You can also vary your depth, speed and bait until you find something that the fish want to strike. Once that school stops biting, you can move on and find another school of fish to work.

Getting Set Up

Starting backwards on the fishing line you will start with a leader. The leader helps to keep the fish from noticing the lead core line and makes it easier to tie on a lure or swivel. The amount of leader can vary, but I usually put on about fifty feet to start. Next is your actual lead core line. This line typically comes in length between 50 and 200 yards. The line changes color every ten yards to let you know how much line you have put into the water. Behind the lead core line is a backing, it can be Dacron, similar to a fly fishing reel, or you can even just use an appropriate strength monofilament line according to what fish you are trying to catch. The amount of backing you want to use depends on the reel. Generally you will want to use as much backing as you can, while still leaving room for the lead core and the leader on your reel.

Lead core line on a reel
Lead core line on a reel

On The Water

Once you have your rod and line set up it is time to hit the water. I often pick similar lures for trolling as I would for casting. Kastmasters and Needlefish are a couple of my favorite for trout. Tie the lure on the line, or use a quality swivel to aid in changing lures more quickly.

Now we get into how the lead core will help. Each ten yard color section of the line will sink about five feet as you are trolling. This can depend on the lure and speed you are trolling at, but we will use five feet as our example. Let us imagine that we've marked fish on our fish finder at twenty feet below the surface. We want to be able to get our lure down to, or just above the fish. If each color will give us five feet below the water we now know that we need to let out four colors to get down to twenty feet.

If you have multiple rods set up with the same lead core line you can troll two or more rods using different depths or lures. Once you start getting bites at a certain depth or with a certain lure you can then change your other lines to match. Also, if you are not sure about what depth you are at because of a speed change, or a heavier or lighter lure there is another way to check and see exactly how deep your lure is.

Let's say you want to get to the fish at twenty feet with a total depth of thirty feet. You can keep letting your line out until your lure bounces off the bottom. Then note how much line you have out. In theory you should have about six colors out to get to thirty feet. But, if you have more or less line out you know that with that particular speed and lure you might be deeper or shallower than you thought. Now, knowing how much line it actually took to get to thirty feet adjust the amount of line to get to twenty feet.

Once you do hook your fish, remember that the lead line is very heavy. Also, you will probably have a lot if it out to get down to the depths you wanted. Because of the amount of line out and the weight it will most likely be difficult to feel how the fish is fighting. I like to keep constant pressure on the line, pulling the fish up with the rod, then reeling in as I dip the rod back towards the water. This action helps to keep a fairly consistent pressure on the fish to keep that lure in place. It also allows you to have a lighter drag set, so that if the fish decides to make a run for it the drag will let them go and you will not break your line.

This was by no means an exhaustive manual on trolling with lead core, but should give you an idea about it. If there is interest I will try to write so more tips on trolling with lead core and other methods.

If you're interested in all things outdoors, feel free to check out my blog at:

Trolling Chatfield State Park
Trolling Chatfield State Park | Source


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    • profile image

      ddancer 2 years ago

      Some may fine this as useful as I do.

      Lead Core Depth Calculator


    • Adventure Colorad profile image

      Adventure Colorad 6 years ago from Denver,CO

      Thank you for the comment, I'm glad you liked it, check out some of my other hubs for more outdoor related reading.

    • profile image

      Josh 6 years ago

      Very interesting article, I will have to try some of these techniques the nex time I go fishing.