How do I set up a trotline?

Can you tell me how to set up a trotline?

Using a trotline is a very effective and yet simple way to fish for Catfish. It is a technique similar to jug fishing that will usually land quite a few fish in a short period of time. It does take a little work to get them ready and in the water, but the payoff is usually worth it. I wouldn’t suggest a trotline for a beginner, however. You can set a trotline in both deep and shallow water and they work well year round in just about any body of water. Trotlines are often used when the fisherman is trying to catch trophy sized catfish and seem to do the trick. To set up a trotline, you need a long fishing line. Place your hooks at set intervals along the line and anchor or tie off both ends. The most common length is 50-100 feet, but regulations in your area could limit the length and the number of hooks you can place. Make sure you check to make sure you’re not breaking the law. Most fishermen prefer to place anywhere from 25 to 50 baited hooks. The most popular way of setting a trotline is from shallow to deep water. It is a technique that works the best if you’re fishing a creek channel or a river or lake that has a deep drop off the bank. Using a tree or stump on the bank (shallow side) tie off one end of the trotline. Feed the line out to the place on the water that you want it to end. When you get to the halfway mark, drop a weight on a piece of twine and tie it off on the line so it holds the line at the depth you want to fish. The weight should be heavy enough to hold the line in place. Continue moving past the weight until you reach the end of the line. Tie off a piece of twine to the end weight and place a knot on the twine to coincide with the depth you want the line to hang. Feed the twine and the weight to the bottom and then tie a float on the top of the twine at the waterline. You’ll want to make sure that the float is positioned to hold the line taut. Return to the shallows and bait the line, moving back out to the end. It is important to keep the line taunt during this process. In most states, you are required to tag a trotline with your name and address if you leave it unattended.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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