• Published:July 7, 2017
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The advent of braided line has changed the inshore trolling game for striped bass anglers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

What used to be a clumsy, clunky method of pulling parachute rigs or bunker spoons with stainless wire line spooled onto a 4/0 to 6/0 reel matched to a heavy-duty broomstick rod is now a user-friendly setup that's lighter and more sporting. Thanks to the thin diameter of braided line, it's lack of stretch and the ability of braid to cut through the water and go deep, anglers can now troll with lighter tackle that's more efficient and effective.
“First of all, it’s just not fun at all trolling with wire line,” says Capt. Sean Reilly who runs the Kirra out of Somers Point, New Jersey. “Wire is heavy and cumbersome. Trolling with braided line has dramatic advantages. One, it is super simple to let the line out and reel the braided line back in without the immense strain that wire has. Two, you can get away with using much lighter tackle. And three, the braid cuts right through the water column so you don’t have to use as much weight on the line to get your lures down to the desired depth.” 

GEARING UP

Reilly trolls his striped bass offerings on thin-diameter braid using a Shimano Torium 20 reel instead of a knuckle busting 4/0 star drag reel that wire line requires. He matches his reels to a 7-foot rod rated for 20- to 50-pound tackle. This makes for a much lighter, easier-to-manage setup than a traditional wire line outfit and it still gets your baits down into the strike zone.




“We like to troll umbrella rigs, shad bars and mojo balls on the braid,” says Reilly. “I’ll use a palomar knot to tie the braid to a 300-pound Sampo Coastlock snap swivel and lock on an 8- to 16-ounce drail weight. Onto the eye of the weight I’ll tie a 10- to 30-foot section of 60- to 100-pound monofilament leader to another large 250-pound Sampo Coastlock snap. From that swivel I snap the leader to a 9ers shad bar rig or umbrella rig.”

When trolling a mojo rig for striped bass, Reilly changes up his outfit a bit. The basic mojo rig includes a large bucktail head with a skirt tied inverted like a parachute rig so the hairs flair out when it’s pulled through the water. The mojo sizes range from a 2-ounce micro to a 48-ounce cannonball. Reilly goes for the big ball. You can rig them in various ways but most crews use a three-way swivel tied to the main line and run two jigs off of the swivel. The baits are staggered with one just four or five feet off the swivel and other one 12 or more feet back.
"Braid cuts right through the water column so you don't have to use as much weight on the line to get your lures down to the desired depth."
-- Capt. Sean Reilly
Reilly’s main mojo rig consists of a 48-ounce ball attached to the bottom eye of the three-way swivel with a 2- to 4-ounce bucktail tied to the upper eye. “For mojos, we tie the braid directly to the open eye of the three-way swivel,” he says. “We can run four mojos easily when trolling with braid as the braided line tracks super straight, and that’s important as it’s good to have the least amount of scope in your line as possible. It can get real crazy with boaters cutting lines and running across spreads when the striper run is on.”

SPOONS AND PLUGS

Capt. Dave DeGenarro, who operates the Hi-Flier out of Barnegat, New Jersey also trolls with braid, but has a somewhat different reason than the aforementioned advantages. “Wire line works best when I troll two bunker spoon rods out of the gunwales, and when spooning, that’s all you can get away with,” he says. “But braided line allows us to troll a third rod right down the middle with a 20- to 32-ounce mojo rig. I use 80-pound Power Pro and the braided line goes straight down like a depth charge so I can keep a relatively slow pace. Most importantly, the line doesn’t swing or sway into the other spoon lines.”

DeGennaro trolls with a Tsunami Trophy boat rod rated for 25- to 40-pound class tackle and prefers a lighter reel like the Shimano Charter Special level-drag. “We put 150 feet of line out, a lot less than you have to put out with wire line,” he says. “We can then run a mojo down the middle and it doesn’t interfere with the bunker spoons.”

Both captains also tout the accolades of simplicity when using Mann’s Stretch plugs on braided line instead of monofilament. “It’s so simple,” says DeGennaro. “Tie the plug to the end of the braid. That’s it.” You can also use a snap to attach the plug.

“The advantage of trolling with Stretch and Rapala Magnum plugs is that they track straight up and down as they dig in whereas with monofilament, they may sway back and forth in the spread and track untrue,” Reilly adds.

Just about all striper pros will agree that braided line is much easier to maintain, tie and replace. It gets the job done and is more fun to fish with. It’s hard to argue with that.

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