Jump to content

Cayuga Kayak Trolling Help

Recommended Posts

Hello Everyone! First time Poster, please bear with me.


So...this was my first season kayak angling on the finger lakes. Many hours trolling but no success. Trying to target trout.


I want to keep it simple and run crank baits unassisted with spinning reels. 


Can any one offer a good starting point as to what depths to have the lure at and what lure may get you there? I feel like I'm just shooting in the dark, and also don't think I'm getting the depths noted on the box of the lure.

Edited by GreenLaker75
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I fish out of a kayak as well... sold the boat for it actually. One way to get depth would be using a lead core setup... I use a 10 color lead core and can get down to 60-65 ft depending on how deep my crankbait dives. It’s great for spoons too, 50-55ft down with spoons. Best thing is no drag from lead core setup. Also you can check out using snap weights, and tadpole divers, in-line weights to achieve depth. Hope this helps. What kind of kayak do you have?

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate the reply! I have a Jackson tripper 12, really stable but also paddles nicely. So far so good.


I actually have a reel setup with leadcore. I used it once but found it cumbersome to let line out and try and paddle at same time. I gave up lol....I should not dismiss it tho, I am being lazy. You get Lakers and others to hit spoons at 50-55'? I think I have made poor assumptions on how deep you really need to troll. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi green


A lot to unpack here


You can flatline and have success in the colder months with surface diving baits. As the surface temp rises you will need to gain depth. 10 color lead and 300 copper can be your friend. I would suggest staying in 70-90 fow.


If you have not gotten into vertacle jigging I would highly suggest it. Get yourself a drift sock and use it along with trolling motor on windy days. 


Theoretically with your setup you could use a bottom thumping rig with a heavy weight on a 3 way swivel 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Green laker... I know what you mean about paddling and letting line out at the same time. I ended up getting the Oldtown sportsman pdl (pedal drive). It’s the best thing ever, fishing hands free. Vertical jigging is by far one of the easier setups for kayak fishing. Lots of good information on YouTube as well. PM me anytime

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I troll a bit in my yak, not in the Finger Lakes though. Getting line out with a paddle kayak is challenging. It works for me if I’m using a spinning reel. Of course no line counter that way. I’ve marked my braided line in 10’ increments so I have a pretty good idea how much line I have out.

Getting line out requires resistance or weight. Depending on where I am and what I’m targeting that usually means either a deep diving crankbait or line weights. With either one, open the bail and start paddling.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use mostly older shad shaped deep diving baits, old Rapala shad raps, Berkeley flicker shads, CC Shads, Bagely deep diving shad baits, wall e divers, old Hot N tots. I've got a pretty good collection so I'm not in  hurry to buy a bunch of new $10 crank baits.  They all seem to work.  I pick based on how deep I want to run.  They all run at a little different depths.  I try to maintain 2mph with these, but mostly I watch the rod tip while I paddle.  As long as the rod tip is gently vibrating to the lure action my speed is about right. 


Another thing you can try that has worked for me.  Kayaks drift pretty readily in a breeze.  If you don't mind letting the breeze choose your direction, tie a heavy sinker on a 3 way set up and run a shallow diving stick bait or a crawler harness off the other swivel with about a 5' leader and drop it to the depth you want to fish.  Let the wind do the trolling.  The deeper you want to fish, and the faster the drift, the heavier the weight you'll need.  I've used this method with a crawler harness to target walleyes if I can maintain a 1.5-2.0 mph drift.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for coming to the kayak trolling party late.  I spend a lot of time trolling the finger lakes in kayak.  Started out years ago with couple of paddle-only yaks, and eventually upgraded to a Hobie peddle drive so here's my $.02

One of the biggest challenges you'll have is getting the right depth depending on what species you're targeting and what time of year it is; rather than try to cover all that, I'd suggest searching the site - based on people's reports, you can get a pretty good idea of what depth you'll need to be at and what lures / colors are producing action.

I can pretty much cover any part of the water column from the surface down to 160-180 ft depending on how I'm rigged for the day.  

Starting from the surface working down, here's my set-ups:

For flat lining, I run either mono or braid, and add split shots for added weight.

I have rods with 4 & 5 colors of 15 Lb. Sufix Performance Lead Core with 20-30 Ft of a Fluro top shot.  With this set-up I get approximately 7 ft of depth per color, and can use a deeper diving lure to get additional depth.  

Torpedo divers attached with OR-16 snap weight clips to braid (with Fluro leader).   Full disclosure, I've donated a few of them to the lake bottom, because they are easy to lose when trying to disconnect.   

Down rigger - run either a 2 or 4 lb. ball with 150 Lb. braid line.   Can get down to 180 ft with the 4 lb., but do get enough blow back that I can't see the ball on sonar.  I can run 2 rods off the down rigger, with 1 release attached to the ball and 2nd on the rigger cable attached with a OR-16 snap weight clip.

Have a rod with 10 colors of lead and a shorter 7 ft leader.

In the earlier days, ran a 3-way swivel with different weights and lures to get down there.  

Have tried a variety of dipsy divers / slide divers / jet divers, but never really got consistency with the depth they run, so don't use them anymore.

A few quick pointers: 

Lead core in a kayak takes patience - it's slow deploying until the first color or so are out and it gets enough drag to pull itself off the rod - keeping the rod pointed straight back also helps. 

Running multiple lines helps to vary your presentation and (hopefully) get more fish.  It can be a challenge to keep from getting tangled up when hooked up.   I try to keep the yak moving forward instead of stopping to land the fish.  

I also only use trolling reels for trolling- When I got into kayaking, I was running 40-year-old Penn Peerless 9's that I used as a kid with my father & grandfather.  I've since upgraded to mostly line counters, but still use a couple of the Penn’s from time to time.  Spinning reels are used for jigging or casting.  

I run a lot of 40+ year old Spoons from my grandfather.  Sutton, Pine Valley & Miller are some of the brands I still have.  Have a bunch of different stick baits – Berkley / Rapala / Kabooms / all shapes sizes and colors.  Can't say that any one specific lure is a 100% catch-all, so I switch things up if not getting hits. 


One of the advantages with the yak is that if you find a spot holding fish or bait pods with fish under them, it's pretty easy to get turned around and keep running through them . 


Like others said – vertical jigging is a blast in a yak.  


Lots of you tube videos on kayak fishing. Lots of us have posted in this site about kayak fishing  - use the search function to find the posts.  


PM if you have other questions.  

Edited by JJBat150
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...