Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Potomac Rockfish Tools of the Trade - Trolling

Trolling for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass) takes a bit of skill, planning and patience as well as the right type of tackle.  This article will concentrate on the tools that are needed to put you on a path to catching Rockfish on the Potomac River.  If you already have everything you need, and want to figure out the proper techniques to use when trolling for Rockfish on the Potomac River, then read "How to Troll for Potomac Rockfish"

Rods and Reels for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass)

Potomac Rockfish recommends:

The most important Potomac Rockfish hardware is the Rod and Reel setup that you choose.  If you skimp here and buy cheap or undersized rods and reels, it will severely limit your ability to setup up your trolling spread and make it work.  The rod needs to be capable of 30-50 pound loads so that it can troll an umbrella rig or a MoJo without too much effort.  Some of these trolling rigs can weigh in excess of 2 pounds!  The reel should be able to fit 300 yards of 30lb monofilament line.

Fishing line for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass)

Choosing between monofilament line and braid is a give and take decision.  The three major considerations are
Stretch (Braid wins) - Monofilament line stretches, but braided line does not.  When you get a strike, the braid will provide immediate feedback as well as a tighter hook set, whereas the mono line will stretch and delay the set of the hook.  Therefore, Braid gets the nod when considering stretch characteristics.
Abrasion Resistance (Monofilament wins) - This is a setback for braided lines, because the stranded nature of braids means that anytime the line catches on something, it has a tendency to fray, and individual strands break.  As braided line gets used throughout the season, small nicks on the line due to general use cause the line to weaken.
Diameter vs line weight (Braid wins) - Braid line is much stronger and lighter-weight due to the nature of the stranded material that's used to manufacture it.  If you took braid and monofilament of the same diameter, the braid would be much stronger.  Braid in the 65lb test is about .016 inch in diameter.  The same diameter monofilament is only 16lb test!  Putting that into fishing terms means that you can troll a higher strength braided line and get more depth due to less resistance in the water due to the smaller diameter of the line.

Lures for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass)

There are several types of lures that work well for Potomac Rockfish. The lures and jigs listed below are ones that have specifically worked for me, and I think that anyone you talk to who fishes for Potomac Rockfish will tell you to use the same tackle. Most people use Tandem rigs, Umbrella rigs and Parachutes. Not as many use Stretch 25's, but I had great luck with them last Fall.

Sassy Shad and Bass Assassins

These are used on umbrella rigs to simulate a school of baitfish. Different sizes - you must attempt to match the size of your shads to the size of the bait that the fish are currently hunting. In the Fall, the bait is usually smaller than in the Spring.

6-inch Bass Assassin Saltwater Sea Shad-4 Per Bag
4-inch Bass Assassin Saltwater Sea Shad-10 Per Bag

Umbrella Rigs

Sea Striker 4-Arm Umbrella Rig
This is how an umbrella looks
when rigged with Sassy Shads and a Parachute

Planer Boards for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass)

- Home-made (best) - I'll be creating a separate post to show how to build a good set of Potomac Rockfish Planer Boards that will work for years. Stay tuned!
- Store-bought - (don't bother!)

Planer Board Line for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass)

There are two types of line that you can use for your Potomac Rockfish Planer Boards. The Planer board line is a little more expensive than weed whacker line. If you buy weed whacker (trimmer line) line, be sure to get the stuff that's .095-inch diameter or larger, and do *not* get the serrated type.
You'll want approximately 100 feet on each side of the boat when you're first starting out. You may want to extend them a bit after you get used to running them.

Woodstock 200-Pounds Planer Board Line

Clips and Rigs for Potomac Rockfish (Striped Bass)

SCOTTY Mini Power Grip Plus Release Planer Board (4 per pack)
Instead of using Scotty clips, you can go the cheaper route and use shower curtain clips and rubber bands. Just loop the rubber band over your line, make sure it's tight, then hook the open end of the rubber band over the shower curtain hook.
PlumbShop PS2546 Shower Curtain Hooks, Chrome, 12-Pack
Weldon Rubber Bands for Planer Releases Tension: Light

I think that covers most of the tackle that I carry with me on a Potomac Rockfish expedition. I hope that you have found this blog post to be useful, and I hope that you catch many Potomac Rockfish with this information!
Please visit my forum at Go Fishing Forum to share news of your latest catch!

Tight Lines!
- Rick


  1. I am trying to put together/buy a suitable longline I can drop over the side of the kayak.
    There are so many types of clips, hooks, beads and even mainline ie mono vs braid etc... Crimps or triangly type clips??
    What do you guys use? What is the simplest, most 'cost effective' setup??
    I guess I only need 100m monofilament line with sinker/anchor at each end and floats. But do I need a handline type reel????

    1. I've never fished from a kayak, so not really sure exactly what you're trying to do, but my assumption is that some 40lb mono and a good-sized weight on a three-way swivel is what you're looking for?

      Maybe something like the one pictured here with a weight on the lower line and whatever bait you plan to use on the upper line?


    2. and I would think that a hand reel would be a good idea.

  2. What weight mono or braid do you use on your reels?

    1. Right now my rigs are split between 40lb mono and 60lb braid.

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