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Author Topic:   Reducing Speed for Trolling
davej14 posted 06-23-2009 11:01 AM ET (US)   Profile for davej14   Send Email to davej14  
What is the best way to reduce speed for trolling? My lowest speed at idle is 2.5 MPH. I am considering a drift sock of some type to reduce speed to about 1.5 MPH. Does anyone have any input on the type and size drift sock that I would need? I have a Dauntless 14 with a Mercury 75HP two-cycle.
Buckda posted 06-23-2009 12:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Dave -

Do you troll with downriggers? A few lines in the water will drag down your speed, but I understand your concern. I've found that the least expensive way to slow your speed is to drag a drift sock...or cheaper yet - a 5-gallon bucket. I use the bucket method on Lake Michigan when the fish are biting on a very slow troll; but it limits the number of lines I can have in directly off the stern of the boat, so I have to use planer boards and lead core.

Good luck!


TransAm posted 06-23-2009 02:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm  Send Email to TransAm     
A kicker.
pcrussell50 posted 06-23-2009 05:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
Search for "Happy Troller". The previous owner of my Boston Whaler boat had one that I inherited when I bought the boat. I took it off. I might sell it to you if you like. But look online and be sure you want one, then get back to me. Mine is in mint working and cosmetic condition, and I don't use it myself.


deepwater posted 06-23-2009 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
To bad you dont have monster trim tabs that you can crank down like speed brakes in fighter jets I bet 2 plates 12" long and 6" wide would stop lots of water going out the back
acseatsri posted 06-23-2009 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Trim tabs don't extend anywhere near enough to slow you down that much. They're pretty much ineffective at low speed.
davej14 posted 06-23-2009 09:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Thanks for the suggestions. Considering the limitations of my boat, I still think a drift sock of some type is my best option. The Dauntless 14 is already stern heavy so a kicker is out of the question, not to mention the cost. I have a turbolift fin on my motor so installing a happy troller is also out. I already have one downrigger and do not see much if any difference in trolling speed. I'll be adding a second downrigger but I often troll without them.

What would be really helpful is if anyone has experience with a drift sock that would slow my speed by 1.5 mph or so. Recommendations of type and brand would be appreciated.

deepwater posted 06-23-2009 09:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
Not the trim tabs i built. They would go full flat down. Its all in the position of the hydrolics
Sal DiMercurio posted 06-24-2009 02:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
GOOGLE "Johnson Marine products." Gp to their trolling plates. I have one on my 15 Sport with 70 hp Johnson & it works better than any other I've owned. All the others have a cable your "MUST" release before giving the engine throttle, because if you don't, you shear the pin & you must pull the boat out of the water to replace it. The Johnson marine plate is automatic, no cables pins, or adjustments. It's spring loaded & pops up beautiful when throttle is advanced. It rides straioght out at speed & doesn't change the way the boat handles.
Buckda posted 06-24-2009 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Okay...let's take a step back and define "Best". Do you mean least expensive? Do you mean fastest or easiest? Do you mean least intrusive (fewest modifications)? Or do you mean expense doesn't matter but I want it to be of the highest quality?

In my mind, I assumed you wanted an inexpensive and easy way to reduce your trolling speed. To my thinking, the trolling plate is perhaps the highest quality solution, but it is also likely the most expensive and permanent. Dragging a bucket is fast, easy and you can find 5-gallon buckets for free in most communities.

pcrussell50 posted 06-25-2009 01:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
A good trolling plate, like a "Happy Troller" is about a hundred bucks. A cheapie is about $50. A lot more expensive than a 5 gallon bucket, granted. And a good bit more elegant, IMHO. I think they claim that it acts like one of those lifting fins, like a Doel fin, when it's not down, blocking thrust.


deepwater posted 06-25-2009 06:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
He mentioned that the happy troller wont fit with his turbolift What you need is something that will fit over the prop or lower unit that will interrupt/divert the movement of water to the rear the boat wont go if the water wont move i have not heard of any thing but any inventors out there want to take a shot at it ill let my idea go for a small return to me it could be a real pain but if all you do is troll ask for a prop to be modified by a prop repair shop just flatten it out and only use it to troll yea i know that one is a real strech
davej14 posted 06-25-2009 02:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
OK, all good questions. My definition of best for my situation is something that will reduce my minimum speed by 1.5 mph, is easily deployed and does not require me to make a significant change to my "hardware" such as removing the ladder, removing my turbolift fin, changing the prop, etc. I am also looking for something that is easily stowed so I am not in favor of towing 5 gal buckets. That is why I am looking for input on a drift sock of some type. I think this could work for me but I have no experience with them. Cost is not really an issue (no I will not get a new motor). Here are some questions I have about a drift sock:

1. Are they available with variable "drag" adjustments?
2. How would you tow them so as not to foul in the prop?
3. How far back should they be towed?
4. How difficult are they to retrieve?
5. How much trouble do they cause when reeling in a catch with the sock deployed?
6. Any type or brand recommendations are appreciated.

gss036 posted 06-25-2009 04:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
What are you fishing for? 2.5 MPH is really not too fast for salmon. Lots of people think salmon are slow, yes, but not slow. 2.5/3mph is perfect for silvers/coho.
davej14 posted 06-25-2009 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I fish mostly inland waters in Upstate NY. Troll for Walleyes on Oneida Lakes, Rainbows and Lake Trout on Skaneateles Lake.
Tollyfamily posted 06-25-2009 06:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tollyfamily  Send Email to Tollyfamily     
Troll in reverse.


davej14 posted 06-25-2009 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Tollyfamily, Good idea if I want to fill the boat with water. Do you actually do this??

I just ordered two Cabelas Pro Angler Drift Socks (Large 38"). It looks like I can hang them off the bow cleats. jsp?id=0012305014249a&type=product&cmCat=SEARCH_all& returnPage=search-results1.jsp&Ntt=drift+sock&Ntk=Products&sort=all&Go. y=0&_D%3AhasJS=+&N=0&_D%3Asort=+&Nty=1&hasJS=true& _DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-box.jsp.form1&Go.x=0& _dyncharset=ISO-8859-1

Should have them in about 5 days and I'll report how they work out.

Sal DiMercurio posted 06-26-2009 10:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Do yourself a huge favor & do the right thing by installing a trolling plate, not useing drift socks while trolling.
Drift sock are for slowing your boat down whilt "DRIFT FISHING" in the wind.
Your going to tangle your line in the drift sock if you get a decent fish on, because you can't bring the sock out of the water if fishing alone, plus you "WILL" forget to bring it out at one point or another & give the engine enough throttle to snap the connecting line, & your gonna have fun getting it out of your prop.
Your also going to scare any shallow swimming fish away from your boat with that thing going through the water.
The plate I am refering to costs approx $125 & will take the place of your dole fin while the boat is on plane.
It isn't as big as a dole fin but does just about 1/2 of what a dole fin does.
If your a serious fisherman, do it right, not half a$$ed towing a sock.
Reminds me of people wanting to mount their sonar on their dash, but refuse to drill a hole.
If your painting your fence white, use white paint, not gray paint & than try & bleach it out with bleach.
Tollyfamily posted 06-26-2009 02:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tollyfamily  Send Email to Tollyfamily     
Yep I have used reverse my whole life, during our Sockeye season on Lake Washington you will see more boats going backwards than forward, obviously not if it's rough but at 1.5 knots no water will come over. The trolling plates work great and are musch easier to disengage when you get a hookup or a double than trying to retreive a sock.


RandyV posted 06-27-2009 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for RandyV  Send Email to RandyV     
I bought one on e-bay ($115) that is cast aluminum for my 100HP Suzuki mounted on a Montauk. It worked great dropping my speed from 2.5 to around 1 mph. A few holes in the motor and no noticeable difference in high speed performance. I finally bought a Nissan 6hp kicker which is much better and gives me a backup if needed but for one season, the trolling plate did the trick.
Sal DiMercurio posted 06-27-2009 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
The Johnson marine plate is the only one I know of that dosn't need a cable to dissenguage before throttling up.
Absolutely everyone I know that uses a plate with a cable, forgets & shears the pin when throttling up.
With Johnsons it's spring loaded & no cable to fart around with.
Really put the brakes on my 70 hp on my 15 sport for trolling.
Before I couldn't get below 3 - 4 mph troll speed, now I can get down to 1 mph if throttled all the way down.
2.5 mph is perfect for trolling Stripers.
deepwater posted 06-28-2009 12:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
Maybe 2 plastic milk crates,,4 corner tied with some 550 cord and a brick in the bottom,,The crates we used for chumming up sharks and blues slowed our drift way down
John from Madison CT posted 06-28-2009 11:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for John from Madison CT  Send Email to John from Madison CT     
You can drag a 5 gallon bucket and slow your down nicely. Try it, it works.
davej14 posted 06-30-2009 12:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I haven't received the drift socks I ordered yet but this weekend I was able to try a single drift sock of about 30" dia. I found that towing it off the stern cleat about 20 feet back resulted in an almost complete lack of helm control. The sock positioned itself in the center of the prop wash, sort of like the a ping pong ball suspended in an air stream. In combination with the asymmetric drag from one side of the boat, it was nearly impossible to steer. I think if I extended the tow line to 40 or 50 feet the result may have been better, but then I would worry about interference with my fishing gear.

Next I tried towing the sock a midships from a bow cleat. This was clearly a better option. I had better helm response but because of the asymmetric load it was challenging to stay on course. When the new drift socks come in I will try one from each bow cleat.

In both cases, minimum trolling speed dropped from 2.5 mph to 1.2 mph.

itl posted 06-30-2009 04:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for itl  Send Email to itl     
Your problem is very common here where I fish. We mostly use baitrigs and wanted trolling speed is around 1,5knots. For example, without any addtional drag, my boat idle speed is 2,5-3knots. That is way too fast for me.

Typical solution is to put two plastic buckets or drift socks in both side of your boat. Hang the bucket/sock in your boat's bow so that the bucket/sock is a half way in your boat or around 4-5feet from stern to bow. Also add one rope more in a bucket/sock and tight it side of your boat so that bucket/sock does not move very much sideways.

That works very well and it also makes your boat more stable. Bucket/sock does not disturb your fishing because they are not behind in your boat.

If you use plastic buckets, it is also very cheap way to drag your idle speed.

Sal DiMercurio posted 06-30-2009 11:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
When I read things like this, I wonder just how long it takes, for people to understand, that there's a right way to do things, & the wrong way.
You guys are complete amatures going around in circles getting nowhere.
Do you really think dragging a parachute in back of your boat isn't going to completely ruin your fishing if you get a decent fish on?????
You have much to learn.
Do the right thing & put a damn "TROLLING" plate on the engine, & be done with it.
People dragging buckets & parachutes are to cheap to buy the right tool, or to dumb to realize what their doing sure isn't the right way to do things.
I'm a professioinal fisherman, [ sport & commercial ] & to see people doing just plain dumb things, just makes me shake my head & wonder just how long it takes you people to see what your doing is totally half A$$ed.
A drift sock is for drift fishing in wind, not trolling, that's why it's called a "DRIFT" sock not a trolling sock.
On another note, on diesel engines, they use troll valves to slow the troll speed, not buckets or parachutes.
It's amazing how well things work when you use the correct tools.
As said above, buckets & socks are the cheap way, & it shows.
That's someting a 12 year old would do.
deepwater posted 06-30-2009 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
But its fun to try to experiment and learn,,Its how you find out what works
davej14 posted 07-01-2009 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     

You don't need to get emotional about my quest for the best solution. If you read my post thoroughly you will see that price is not an object and you will also see that I have a turbolift fin installed on my motor that will interfere with a trolling plate. I don't consider myself to be either stupid, cheap or adolescent in my approach. I have researched trolling plates and found that they have their own set of problems.

Teak Oil posted 07-01-2009 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil     
Sal, if the guy wants to hang a sock off his boat its his business. Your ignorant opinion was stated above, it is not needed again. The guy is trolling for walleye, which you have obviously never fished for. Walleye like speeds of .9 to 1.2 mph, a speed most plates fail to get a boat down to alone. Also plates make a boat difficult to steer in any kind of wind since they block the thrust immediately behind the prop.

I use a sock for trolling for walleye in my Montauk and have very few issues with it. When running planer boards the lines rarely come anywhere near the sock, and since walleye dont fight hard at all only a huge one will be able to cause issues with swimming into the sock.

As far as forgetting to pull the sock out, the same thing can happen with a plate. When you are pulling your lines its hard to miss the sock right behind the boat. Its mush easier to forget to pull a plate up.

Both items have their uses and advantages and disadvantages.

Sal DiMercurio posted 07-01-2009 09:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Teak, obviously you didn't read my posts.
The Johnson plate dosn't use a cable, so there's nothing to to even think about, as it's spring loaded & pops up on it's own automaticly.
I do troll for trout at .9 mph, it's just a matter of using a stiffer spring if you need to be under 1 mph.
As far as control, you have no idea of what your talking about.
The johnson plate has a hole right in the middle of it, & you don't even know there's a plate on the engine, because thrust is instant, & reverse is almost not believable, as the water flows through the hole in the plate.
I also stated the plate doubles as a dole fin[ you wont need your fin ], but it seems you don't read English very well.
Trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about, as I also used buckets, & chutes back in the 60s, [ 50 years ago ] to slow my boat, but that was when no one knew any better, like the horse & buggy.
Use whatever your heart desires, as I really care less if you drag an anchor to slow your boat, & yes, I have fished Walleyes before.
I've been where you have yet to walk, & back again.
Ablewis posted 07-02-2009 10:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ablewis  Send Email to Ablewis     
I think Sal is right on this one. I fish for large walleyes in Big Bay de Noc and Little Bay de Noc and it is not uncommon to slow my troll down to .8 miles per hour or slower. I just got back from Big Bay and caught a number of fish in the 28-30" range and I caught none of them at speeds greater than 1.3 mph. I have tried a drift sock on a friends boat that trolls too fast and there was virtually no way to control turns. Sal is right...these are for drifting.
Teak Oil posted 07-02-2009 11:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil     
Perhaps the Johnson plate is nicer that the ones I have used and is a fine product, I may have to check one out.

However Sal can still take his comments about people being ameteurs and doing things the "wrong way" and stick them where the Sun doesnt shine. Mr. Professional, I am sorry you have to watch us stupid ametuers out on the water when you are fishing, as we were not born knowing the perfect way to do things as you were. Also some people have other priorities in life than looking like a wannabe professional fisherman, like kid's college funds and paying the mortgage, making fishing gear pretty low on life's priority list.

So next time you are trolling for walleye and happen to pass me by, try to look past my non professional fishing methods when I have just as many fish in the boat as some of the "pros".

One other thing not mentioned here is a drift sock should be on the boat anyways, as a means to control the boat attitude if you have engine failure in waters too deep to anchor in.

gnr posted 07-03-2009 10:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr    
I love this place!

Something as ridiculously simple as slowing the trolling speed turns into a chest thumping match.

A kicker is the ideal solution of course but if that can happen then:

I've got many many hours in dragging a five gallon bucket. Works like a charm.

Now I carry a drift sock which works even better. Tied off to a cleat near the bow it rides forward of the stern and does not interfere with lines, cable or fish netting.

I am able to set lines and play and net fish by myself without turning in circles.

I do some backtrolling also but only for precision working of points and reefs and only on calm days. Most serious backtrollers have higher transoms or splash guards.

I would aspire to put a little kicker on that 14 but in the meantime a drift sock will work just fine.

gnr posted 07-03-2009 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr    
1. Are they available with variable "drag" adjustments?

I adjust mine by tieing a line between the two loops on the wide end which effectively narrows the opening

2. How would you tow them so as not to foul in the prop?

Mine rides forward of the transom/prop

3. How far back should they be towed?

Mine rides forward of the transom/prop

4. How difficult are they to retrieve?

Most have an additional loop on the small end so you can retrieve easily with a line attached to this loop.

5. How much trouble do they cause when reeling in a catch with the sock deployed?

None if set so it rides forward of the transom

6. Any type or brand recommendations are appreciated.

I got mine from Cabellas. It was not expensive, maybe 30 buck or so.

We've rigged up makeshift socks using duffle bags before.

Jessielove posted 07-10-2009 06:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jessielove  Send Email to Jessielove     

Might I suggest that there may be a difference between "drift socks" and "trolling socks".

I believe the best trolling socks made are made by Amish Outfitters. They are used by thousands of great lakes boaters. Amish outfitters products are of very high quality and the good people there can answer your question about sizing, rigging, and proper and safe use. Here is their URL.

For the trolling plate enthusiast, I would argue that the best (most elegant and functional) trolling plate is a Beaver Troll (remote controlled, hydraulically operated, and infinitely adjustable from parallel to perpendicular). Sadly, I believe the owner of the company died a few years back and now Beaver Trolls command a premium if you can find one used.

A person who posted in this thread claims to have purchased Beaver Troll and is now making them, possibly under a different name. I did not try to contact the writer because the website required me to register before I could see his e-mail address:

I also found someone who gave an e-mail for the new owner (I have not verified). He also states they are just getting production started and the cost may be $2300 each.

I got mine in the 80s for about $900 and it was worth every penny, I would buy a new one today if I needed one for $2300.

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