Favorite Trolling Lures

What are your favorite canoe trolling lures for largemouth bass and sunfish? All of the lakes I paddle are man made lakes ranging from 100 acres to 1000 acres. Were talkin good ol Midwest flooded valleys that either contain timber or used too. Not deep, clear northern lakes.


Do you troll for those fish ??

– Last Updated: Jul-19-11 8:36 PM EST –

....... how is it working out for you ??

I've trolled along the shore line grasses , wood , lillys , etc. in the process of going from one still or drift casting spot to another .

One day on a reservoir caught more than a dozen very small bass doing this . I usually wouldn't do it though .

At some other times I've trolled giant weighted spinners or 25' deep diver lures in the reservoirs , out in the deep waters . Have found a few Northerns this way . Once just as a 25' deep diver was bouncing along some grassy bumps on the bottom , a 13"-14" Yellow Perch grabed it . Poor dude got the heck knocked out of him went he stuck on it at a higher trolling speed .

One "hot" Summer day I was renting one of the reservoir's electric motor boats and hiding in some shade in a deep cove that was near the rental center put-in/take-out waiting till the very last minute to return the boat . Must have lost track of the time because the center's motor boat guy who rounds up the straglers comes roaring into the cove and told me to get a move on , that it was near closing time .

He left out of the cove and I tied an old Heddon deep diver on my light line outfit (that's all I had) , wedged the rod in and began to move out on motor speed 1 trolling the Heddon behind .

About 1/2 way out of the cove my rod doubled over and the drag sang at the top of it's lungs ... I was certain that I had just got snagged on a bottom stump . I stopped the boat and picked up the rod , yep , might as well break off and take my losses cause this won't be recoverable , I was absolutely certain of that after holding the rod .

Wait a minute , is the boat spinning or is the line moving towards the shore ?? Took a minute to figure that out cause there was probably a hundred foot of line stretched out tight behind me in the middle of the cove .

Ok , I don't believe my eyes now ... the line is definately moving now and the rod still doubled over feeling like a stump snag . Soon I could feel the slightest traces of a fish on the other end ... I don't believe this !!

All I could do was hold on tight and watch the line come up , as the line's entry point into the water began to get farther and farther away . It seemed to take many minutes but then out of the water came the biggest Lg.mouth Bass I've ever ran into . The bass went into the air like a rocket , did a flip and snapped my line . It looked like one of those photos you see in fishing magazines , huge Bass a couple or more feet out of the water with splash everywhere .

At that very time I heard the motor boat coming back and turned to see him approaching . When he got to me again I started to tell him why I was held up getting back to the center ... the guy says , he saw the whole thing and that Bass must have been over 10 lbs. ... I agreed with him and off he went with me heading behind .

Bass Lures
Here’s my list of favourite Bass lures:


For trolling, I would probably be using a Rapala. Generally speaking, we’ll be trolling while we’re paddling during the day - that’s a matter of maximizing the return on investment of all that paddling we’re already doing.

We’ve pulled in a ton of Smallmouth over the years trolling that way, including a trophy sized one up on Mink Lake in Algonquin by my oldest son.

Had similar things happen.

– Last Updated: Jul-21-11 8:17 AM EST –

Check my "swimming rocks" thread I just started before reading this one. It would have gone well here too.

I don't really have a favorite trolling lure as I generally fish rivers and don't troll. I drift lures and flies. A little different in that it switches what is moving and what is still relative to each other, but similar enough to fit in a casual conversation such as an on-line fishing forum.

My favorite drifting lure, bar none, is the Case Jack's Worm. When I'm floating along and just covering water at current speed, not paying attention to much of anything but the warm feeling of sunshine on my face, I'll put a Jack's Worm out on a long line on a quartering downstream cast. Then when it gets to straight downstream, I'll bob it a couple times up and down the current by pulling some line with my hand (like a fly fisherman would do) and then I'll start to retrieve it slowly. I get the most hits just at the end of the swing or at the beginning of the retrieve.

For flies, I like drifting a wooly bugger or a hopper/dropper using a similar technique, but on a much shorter line. With spinning tackle and the Jack's Worm, I watch the line for movement. With flies, I watch the hopper for movement. The hoppers I use are fairly small and so it needs to be near enough for me to see if it is moving un-naturally. Probably not any further than a 15 or 20 foot cast. I try to float down shallow water and drift the hopper/dropper over deeper water, but my boat control skills could use some help in getting that aspect performed consistently.

Now for trolling, I haven't trolled any flies but it sounds like it might be a good idea so I'll give it a go with big Clouser Minnows sometime to see whether it works. What I have trolled the most are large Rat-L-Traps when going for stripers in the tidal Potomac. It's not the primary means of trying to catch them. We prefer to get to target holding locations and cast for them, but as we paddle from one spot to the next it doesn't hurt to keep a lure in the water. Now that I'm fishing still water again, perhaps I'll start tying on a shad or large grub on a 3/8 or 1/2 oz jig head as I move between spots.

- Big D

Traditionally I haven’t trolled much for bass and never for sunfish. What little I have done for largemouth is with a Rapala and yes I’ve caught a few. I used to be big into bass fishing but tired of my boat and cost and when the fish were off their bite it almost became work to catch em. Don’t get me wrong we still caught fish but you actually had to pay attention to get er done. Overall my favorite lures have been 7" Berkley worms, spinner baits and rat-l-traps. But trolling anything that sinks from a canoe gets fouled/snagged pretty quick in our local lakes.

But anyway. I’ve been getting more into the flat water paddling this year and figured I might as well be dragging something along. Thus the question.


Use the 7" worm
I’ll bet that a 7" worm, or maybe even one of the newer very long worms, would troll well when rigged weedless with a bullet weight.

We’ve got a reservoir very similar to what you described near us, and I think that’s what I’ll try when I get up there again.

  • Big D

floating Rapalla

I love trolling. I get to paddle and fish. In addition to what’s been said, the a Rapalla tells you if it’s fouled or not. If the rod tip is vibrating you’re fine. If it’s not, you’re fouled.

in the heat of the summer …

– Last Updated: Jul-21-11 7:41 PM EST –

...... early morning or towards evening , on reservoirs and lakes with decent depth around wood along the shoreline , make sure you toss that 7" plastic worm into/around the thickest cover you can find , let it sink to the bottom ... and slowly , ever so slowly pull and drag it along the bottom , up and over submergeed wood , let it drop in again ... keep slowly dragging always trying to feel the bottom on the other end . Stop and start again after each thing you encounter under water .

If your worm goes near where a large Bass is lying , he may come out and suck it up . It's always been 2 (two) light taps for me with large Bass . Drop the rod tip to slack as soon as you feel those two taps , open the bail and watch for the line to start running off ... give him a little bit and click . When he reaches the end of his rope , set the hook . I describe the sizable Largemouth Bass strike on a plastic worm like someone at the door ... knock - knock .

It is my belief and that of others who are pros , that a big ol bucketmouth Bass will not expend a great deal of energy chasing down a bait ... instead he lyes in wait for the opportune time to attack something very near his hideout , he can be very quick on his attack within 3'-4' but won't go much farther , he is selective , likes big meals that are easy to catch .

All of them.

– Last Updated: Aug-31-11 2:59 PM EST –

Jitterbug is always fun too. And if it looks like a crawfish, it will work. Bass are pretty easy targets. Just get something overboard and go.

There you go.
Someone on a different board used to say, “An ounce biology beats a ton of plastic.” Find the fish and get something (nearly anything) in front of them is better than whipping empty water to a froth.

How to find fish? There are a practically unlimited number of books written on that subject.

  • Big D


with the yellowstripe around the eyes

I troll shorelines or if on a river, cast as I float down.



I would drag a carolina or texas rigged
worm in such conditions, denending on how fast you are trolling of course.

I used to do this when I was float fishing a favorite reservoir out west, as I was kicking to my favorite trout hole in the lake anout 1/2 mile form the launch.

I would have one rod out as described above… Often times with a live crawler, others with a rubber worm, and another rod with a water filled float clear float and a trailing wooly bugger fly. This would ride the fly about 4-6 feet below the surface.

I caught some of my nicest largemouth bass, channel cats and trout on the worm using this setup, and lots of nice trout, panfish and crappie with the fly.

It was a slow troll, but it sounds like something you could easily do from a kayak on the lakes you describe, with little chance of snagging stuff too.