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muskielaw

Crankbaits - How far above the fish should you be?

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I am just learning how to troll with crankbaits and am trying to figure out what depth I should target in relation to the fish. My understanding is that do to the position of a walleye's eyes they are better at seeing food above them. So how far above them is the question? If I am marking fish in 20 fow do I want my bait to be running at 20, 18, 15 or shallower?? Obviously, the most ideal depth would be right in front of their face but to give myself the best chance to get some of the fish that might also be a little higher in the column how much leeway do you have before your bait is to high for the fish to see it and be interested?

Muskie

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It's a tough question to answer as a lot depends on the fish's mood. There are times where a fish's strike zone is very large and a walleye with scream up and smash baits 10 above them. At other times you need to be ticking the bottom in order to trigger strikes. In general I'm very comfortable being 2-5 feet above fish when trolling cranks. Under most circumstances you'll get bit if fish are feeding. After that I let the fish tell me whether I need to change lure positioning or not.

The precision trolling book is a great investment for a new troller giving you detailed information on depths cranks run.

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Just generalizations, but if the fish are hugging the bottom tight I usually wind up trying to tick bottom fairly frequently with my bait to get action. If they are suspended, or staging off a break a bit, it seems that you can often pull your baits higher above the fish. I've heard of folks trolling rapalas 10-15' above suspended fish up near 3mph in clear water.

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My answer is much the same as fishwater's answer.

For fish that are tight to the bottom I start with my bait near the bottom (slightly above bottom and above the fish). If I'm not getting fish I will get the bait down deeper so it hits the bottom frequently.

For suspended fish, I start with my bait 2 feet above them. If I'm getting fish I will keep raising the bait up higher in the water, if I'm not getting fish I'll try dropping down to run the bait right past their noses.

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Thanks for the help guys. The next purchase is going to have to be the precision trolling book so that I can get some confidence that I know where my bait is. Picked up some trolling rods with line counters but have been going off the depths stated on the crank packages. Still feels like I am guessing but like anything it will take time and hopefully some fish in the boat.

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Water clarity will also come into play. In the stained lakes around here I want to be right at the fish level. On Lake Superior wich is usually clearer the eyes will often come up 5-10' and hit cranks.

In dirty waters I like orange/chart or pink/chart combos as well as lures with silevr bills.

In the clearer waters like great lakes natural colors at times are best and forage is also a big factor.

I guess I would say over all I want to start out within a foot of the fish and experiment too see if they will rise. If they rise to hit they are agressive and thats a good batch of fish to work.

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