How Muskie Trolling Works

Trolling With a Downrigger

­Muskies­ are tricky little creatures, so fishing for them involves a lot of precision. Downriggers help provide this necessity.

A downrigger is a device used on boats that allows a troller to fish a lure at a constant, specific depth [source: Idaho Fish and Game]. And since we know the importance of depth in muskie fishing, this is a pretty valuable tool. The use of a downrigger will provide deeper lines with precise control.

To use a downrigger, you'll want to follow these basic steps:

  1. From your assortment, pick a lure that won't dive too deep or pull too hard. This allows you to be aware of how deep the lure's running, saving you from too many false releases.
  2. As you go, monitor for schools of suspended bait fish with a paper graph, video or liquid-crystal.
  3. After letting out 10 ft (3 meters) of line, attach it to your release and set the tension adjustment so that it's tight enough to prevent trips from the pull of the line.
  4. Lower the cannonball so that it levels off and tracks just above the bait. It's an important rule of thumb to remember that muskies are more likely to swim up for a lure than to swim down.
  5. When you get a strike, speed your boat up slightly. This helps prevent any slack in your line that might allow the muskie to free itself from your hook [source: Sternberg].

If you want to look like an experienced muskie angler, read on to discover how muskie trolling with a planner board works.