Freshwater Fishing - Trolling from a boat Part 1

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Freshwater Fishing - Trolling from a boat

Freshwater Trolling for Trout and Salmon is a fascinating hobby and one which I have be doing for 15 years now - here I will point you in the direction of some things you will need to get you started and some things to avoid.

Safety first!

Don't fish alone while trolling - lots of people do - I don't and it's more fun anyway.

Tell some one where you are going and when you expect to be back. Be careful of mobile phone receptions on big lochs as they can be sketchy at best - better with a marine radio but if you are using mobiles make sure they are fully charged and reception is good.

You will need a good lifejacket - not a float coat - a life jacket will keep you the right way up and support your full weight in the water even if unconscious. Go for the best you can afford - what price do you put on your life? Match it accurately to your body weight fully clothed. Test it - get a fire going by your chosen loch on a sunny day and have some dry gear ready - have a friend standing by, get all your kit on and walk into the loch - does it feel comfortable? does it fit well? does it support you well? if not - get another.

If it passes this test, try jumping off your boat near the shore in about 5 feet of water to get you used to falling off a boat, try to relax and notice your surroundings - shock, fright, cold and gagging in water can get you killed even with a good life jacket - so some drills should increase your chances of survival.

Don't go for a green or a camouflaged one! what good is it if no-one can see you - get an orange or yellow one, preferably with a whistle.

Wear it UNDER your heavy outer jacket and NOT on top, this way if you fall in you can attempt to remove the heavy over jacket which will weigh you down and impede your movement

Have at least 15ft rope on your boat and a buoy, life ring, spare life jacket or something your buddy can throw to you should you go overboard. Once in the water AVOID THE PROP AT ALL COSTS!! If you are near the shore (like no more than 25 feet) make a swim for it - easier and safer than trying to climb onto the boat. If you are the one on the boat it is not always advisable to kill the engine as you may drift away from your buddy or not be able to get it started due to panic or whatever. If the man overboard is conscious and away from the prop - keep it running but be extremely careful when approaching him and be ready to kill it when he has hold of the boat or a rope.

Alcohol and Boats do not mix - never get onto a boat drunk or with a drunken companion - yes a few beers on a nice summer evening while fly fishing from the boat or sitting on the shore can be enjoyable but know your limits and NEVER exceed them.

Get weather forecasts before you go and have a spare set of dry clothing - although a good wave is great for fishing in, if the Loch looks too rough and choppy then go home - better to go home safe and come back and fish another day.

If you need to work on your prop for whatever reason  - disconnect the spark plug.

OK that's most of the basic safety out of the way but if anyone has any other experience tips or tricks on safety please mail them to me and I will update the guide.

Now the fun part.

You will need the four biggies + some bits & pieces.


Boat:  At least 14ft, preferably with a small cuddy for stowing gear and crouching in for a cup of tea. Small pram hood is a bonus.

Make sure it has a good hap for shedding water when not in use - especially if it is on a running line when moored.

When buying make sure there have been no major repairs - check all of the boat inside and out and especially underneath. Check the trailer if it has one is totally sound and not just had a coat of hammerite.

You should be able to pick up a starter boat for < £400.

Outboard: At least a 4hp with forward and reverse without the need to 'spin' the engine for reverse. 4hp is ideal for slow trolling and gives good fuel consumption but depending on the size of your boat you may need to go up to a 10hp - a lot of older boats you see being sold come with a 25hp and these were mainly inshore sea boats but a 25hp is next to useless - very heavy, bad fuel consumption and prone to problems - AVOID.

Outboards come in two basic types and three basic sizes. 2 stroke and 4 stroke, two stroke engines are pound for pound more powerful than 4 strokes but the oil needs to be mixed at the right ratio to the fuel and they are less environmentally sound. Conversely 4 strokes are heavier can only be lain down a certain way (or oil will leak) but have less pollution and do not have to have fuel mixed, they are also quieter and more expensive.

The 3 sizes are short, standard and long shaft and the one best suited to your boat is the one where the cavitation plate (the little plate above the prop) is just 2-3 inches below the base of the bottom of your boat at the back - this provides the best power and fuel consumption while keeping the prop as high as possible from possible obstructions like rocks etc.

2 or 4 stroke the choice is yours, try to get the newest engine you can - old outboards unless well serviced and looked after are prone to lots of problems and you will find yourself spending more time on the shore trying to repair than out on the water fishing.

Best outboard are usually Japanese - Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki but not always the case with second-hand, again it comes down to how well they have been looked after.

Carry spare fuel, plugs, oil, split pins (if your engine uses them) and a small tool-kit.

It is also worth investing in a 2hp outboard or electric 'take me home' engine if you break down some miles from your car or moorings rowing for hour on end is no fun especially in windy conditions.

4hp outboard < £300

Rod: Just about any half-decent rod will do - you don't need some special Hardy at £400+ as the rods take a bit of a beating. We fish with 4 rods 2 'wing' rods out the side and 2 'poker' rods at the back - salmon rods are best for the wing rods and you can get a 16ft Shakespeare salmon rod for about £65 this lets you fish near the shore (where a lot of fish lie) while keeping the boat a safe distance it also lets you play the bigger fish well. Poker rods can be any bait rod from around 7-10ft that sit out the back of the boat on a shorter line so as not to foul your wing rods but you will be surprised how many fish the pokers will take.

Rod rests that attach to the side of the boat are a must and will give you more room in the boat as well as a few more feet of reach to your rod.

Reels: When starting out you can use almost any fair sizes spinning reel or fly reel but if you can afford it there can be only one trolling reel and that is the Shimano Moocher at around £60 you get a lot of reel for your money and they can handle very big fish with a lot of backing line and a fast retrieve rate.

Bits and Pieces: we all have our bits and bobs we need but in addition to the above you will need all your other basic stuff. Waterproof clothing, first aid kit, salmon net, terminal tackle, rod bag, wellies and of course lures we all have our favourites but you can't beat the original tobys made in Sweden.

So all in all that's the basic kit less than £800 could get you and your mate into the freshwater fishing game that's only £400 apiece for a great way to fish.

Please email me with anything you would like to see added or amended next part will be on actaul trolling tactics.


Best Regards and Tight Lines.



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