Overlooked Eel Imitations for Trolling

Large soft baits are perhaps the most overlooked lures for imitating eels on the troll. OK, sure, almost everybody who trolls for stripers is aware of the “tube n’ worm, but how many anglers think to troll with un-weighted soft baits? If you don’t already fish them, you should be!

Two Major Advantages:

1. Weed-less Rigging:  Large soft-baits can be rigged with swim-bait hooks, allowing the angler to bury the hook point inside the soft bait. A weed-less bait will also be highly resistant to snagging bottom.

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2. Natural Undulation:  Nothing tops the flex and quiver of a 14inch un-weighted soft bait. It’s for that reason that I often that I troll un-weighted baits nearly 100% of the time when I’m trying to imitate an eel; even in deeper water Minimally rigged soft baits respond to each twitch imparted by the angler, currents, boat movement- you name it.  My favorite reason for fishing with naked soft bait eels how well they respond to fishing the “drop” Click Here for 14inch Hogy

Rigging for Depth

Eels’ long slender shape makes them an easy target for a large striper inhale its next lunch…  It’s for that reason eels are notorious bottom dwellers as they are hard to see and grab when they are in the rocks. Consequently, stripers will not often miss the opportunity a slow wounded or otherwise disoriented eel a few inches off the bottom. So now we need to talk about staying in the zone. 

Now it’s important to mention that when I say “naked soft-bait” I’m not saying un weighted. I’m just applying weight to the line so that the soft bait eel has a slow natural presentation.


1. Completely Un-Weighted Soft Baits:

The lightest of options is a truly un-weighted offering. This technique is presumably in very shallow water and the sheer weight of the hook(s) is enough to sink the bait to the bottom.

Fishing un-weighted soft baits on braid can be a deadly light weigh and tactical approach to catching very large stripers. By taking the boat out of gear, you can let the baits drop, allowing for a soft and slow presentation of a recently or nearly deceased eel.  Furthermore the bait can by twitched and worked by the angler for added action.


2. Fishing Trolling Weights: Another option for getting down is to apply weights to the fishing line. Actual weight will vary with how deep and how much current you’re dealing with. Typically, I’d recommend an in-line trolling sinker.

Trolling weights get you down without switching to weighted trolling lines but they can be a bit more cumbersome. One technique I like is to let the weight tap down on bottom by taking the boat out of gear. By doing this, the weight will pull the bait toward the bottom thereby simulating an eel making it’s way for cover.


3. Fishing with Weighted lines are also a way to go and probably the most popular method here in New England.  Your two options are are lead-core and wire line. Lead core is more popular and easier to deal with. The down side is it doesn’t get as deep as wire line, which requires heavier tackle and is more inclined to tangle.


One major advantage to weighted lines as they easily allow or the “jig’n troll. It’s just a direct connection with you and your soft-bait. So feel free to twitch  the bait as your trolling. Not only do I like how it keeps me occupied between fish, the twitching motion will MOST definitely up your game.


4. Down Riggers are also effective for getting large soft baits to the bottom. They are very effective as you can just about bounce the ball off the bottom and create a stir. If you have them on your boat, it’s most definitely worth trying.


5. The Swimming Tin: Ok, I know we’re referring to “naked soft baits” here, but they are such a deadly eel imitator, it’s worth mentioning.  They tin itself has more to do with the amazing eel-like action than with getting down, so I recommend trolling swimming tins on lead-core –or- wire line.

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Posted in Cobia, Hogy Eels, Striped Bass, Target Imitators

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