Trolling With Lead Core Line- Getting Set Up

If you read my last post on Trolling With Lead Core Line you should have a pretty good idea of what it is. In this post I will help you to get your first fishing pole for lead core set up.


Ugly Stick rods are my go to lead core poles.  They are great
value, helping give plenty of bang for your buck.
First you need to pick out your rod.  This will largely depend on what type and size of fish you will be going after.  Obviously a small lake and one of the Great Lakes or an ocean trip will require different equipment.  For Colorado I chose an Ugly Stick with a medium heavy action.  This gives me enough back bone in the rod to handle the heavy lead core line and also handle the fish that I am likely to encounter. 

You'll need big reels for lead core
Next you will need to pick out a reel.  You will want a large ocean or trolling type reel.  If you can, look for a reel with a level wind, this is a small guide that moves back and forth as you reel in to make sure the line is spread across the reel.  This isn't necessary, but will reduce the likelihood of your line bunching up when you are paying attention to a fish.  Also try to get as much line capacity in the reel as possible.  Lead core line is very bulky and it will fill up your reel very quickly.

Lead Core Line

The first thing to go on your reel is backing.  This is line that goes behind the lead core line and serves two purposes:  first off, it helps to fill the rest of the reel and second, it provides additional line if your fish pulls out all of your lead core.  On top of your backing you attach the lead core line, this comes in several weight ratings and lengths.  Once the lead core line is attached you will need to attach a leader.  I typically use a 20lb mono filament for the leader.  This makes it easier to tie on your lure and gives the advantage that if your lure breaks off you are only using an inexpensive leader, not your lead core line.  I start with about 50ft of leader.  This keeps the lead core line out of sight from the fish, gives you plenty of room to cut pieces off or lose line while fishing and still have some left over.  Another advantage is with 50ft of line you could snag your lure up to 50ft below the surface and still only have to cut the leader off.

Choosing Your Lead Core Line

Trolling with lead core line
So what lead core line do you need?  There are two main points to look at when choosing.  First off, you want to pick the line weight.  Just like any other fishing line, this affects the strength of the line.  It can also affect the rate at which the line sinks, though as far as I can tell the sink rate doesn't change a lot.  The second thing to look at is the length of the line.  Lead core typically is color coded every ten yards.  Line typically comes as 5, 10, 15 or even 20 color spools.  I have used 10 color, which gives you about 100 yards of lead core line.  Each color pulls your lure down about five feet while trolling.  So a 10 color line will allow you to present your bait about 50 feet down.  Depending on where you are fishing you may need more or less. Many Walleye anglers use 5 colors because they may not need to get down more than 20 feet or so.

One trick for putting your line on your reel is to use two identical rods.  Start by putting on your leader, then your lead core, followed by the backing until your reel is full.  Then attach the backing to the second reel and reel all of it in.  Now you know exactly how much backing to put on your second rod.

Check out my next post on lead core, In The Water

What is a downrigger?


  1. Great info, thanks for this.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading!

  3. A work mate referred me to this resource. Thank you for the resources.
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