How to Troll for Trout Without Downriggers

How to Troll for Trout Without Downriggers

Trout fishing can be an exciting and rewarding activity, but some anglers might feel discouraged if they don’t have access to downriggers. Downriggers are devices used to keep fishing lines at specific depths, which can be especially helpful for targeting trout at different water levels. However, don’t let the absence of downriggers deter you from enjoying a successful trout trolling experience. In this article, we will explore effective techniques and tips for trolling trout without downriggers.

Choose the Right Trolling Lure

Selecting the right trolling lure is crucial when fishing for trout without downriggers. Opt for lures that mimic the trout’s natural prey, such as small minnows, worms, or insects. Brightly colored lures with reflective surfaces can also attract trout, especially in murky waters. Experiment with different lure sizes and colors to find what works best for your specific fishing location.

Use Snap Weights

Snap weights are an excellent alternative to downriggers as they can help you reach different depths without the need for specialized equipment. Attach a snap weight to your fishing line a few feet above your lure. The snap weight will act as a sinker and take your baited hook down to the desired depth. Adjust the distance between the snap weight and lure to vary the depth you’re fishing at.

Incorporate Inline Sinkers

Inline sinkers, also known as trolling sinkers, are another useful tool for trolling trout without downriggers. These sinkers can be attached directly to your fishing line above the lure. Like snap weights, inline sinkers add weight to the line, allowing your lure to reach the desired depth. Experiment with different sinker weights to see what works best for the conditions and the trout’s behavior.

Utilize Lead Core Line

Lead core line is a specialized fishing line with a lead center that helps it sink. This line is ideal for fishing at specific depths without downriggers. By letting out more line, you can achieve deeper trolling depths. Lead core line also allows you to cover a broader range of depths without having to constantly adjust your gear.

Fishing Line

Control Your Boat Speed

The speed of your boat plays a vital role in successful trout trolling. Without downriggers to control the depth, you can adjust your boat’s speed to affect the lure’s depth. Slower speeds allow the lure to sink deeper, while faster speeds bring it closer to the surface. Monitoring your boat speed and adjusting accordingly will increase your chances of enticing trout at the desired depth.

Employ Planer Boards

Planer boards are an excellent addition to your trout trolling arsenal. These devices enable you to spread out your lines and cover a broader area while trolling. By using planer boards, you can effectively present multiple lures at varying depths, increasing your chances of catching trout without the need for downriggers.

Learn to Read the Water

Understanding the water’s structure and trout behavior is key to successful trolling without downriggers. Pay attention to the lake or river’s topography, including drop-offs, submerged structures, and potential feeding areas. Trout are often found near underwater structures, so focus your trolling efforts around these spots.

Vary Your Trolling Patterns

To increase your chances of catching trout, vary your trolling patterns. Instead of sticking to a straight-line troll, try zig-zagging or making loops. Changing the direction and speed of your troll can create a more natural presentation and entice hesitant trout to strike.

underwater trout

Stay Informed About Local Fishing Reports

Keep track of local fishing reports and updates from fellow anglers to stay informed about trout activity in your area. Local fishing reports can provide valuable insights into recent catches, bait preferences, and the most productive fishing spots, helping you strategize your trout trolling without downriggers.

Practice Patience and Persistence

Trout fishing, especially without downriggers, requires patience and persistence. It may take time to locate the trout and figure out the most effective trolling methods for your specific location. Remember that fishing is an outdoor adventure, and even if you don’t catch a trophy trout right away, the experience itself is rewarding.


Trolling for trout without downriggers is an achievable and exciting pursuit for any angler. By choosing the right lures, employing alternative techniques like snap weights and inline sinkers, controlling your boat speed, and being observant of the water’s structure and trout behavior, you can increase your chances of a successful fishing trip. Remember to stay patient, experiment with different tactics, and enjoy the tranquility of nature as you embark on your trout trolling adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need expensive equipment to troll for trout without downriggers?

Not at all! While downriggers can be beneficial, there are plenty of affordable and effective alternatives, like snap weights and planer boards, that can help you achieve successful trout trolling.

What is the best time of day to troll for trout?

Trout are more active during early mornings and late evenings, so those times can be ideal for trout trolling. However, trout can be caught throughout the day, depending on weather and water conditions.

Can I use live bait for trout trolling?

Yes, live bait like worms and minnows can be effective for trolling trout without downriggers. Ensure you present the bait naturally at the desired depth.

How far apart should I place my planer boards when trolling?

The distance between planer boards can vary depending on your boat’s width and the available space. Generally, placing them 50 to 100 feet apart can be a good starting point.

Is trout trolling suitable for beginners?

Absolutely! Trout trolling can be a fun and accessible fishing technique for anglers of all levels. It provides an excellent opportunity to learn and enjoy the art of fishing.