If you go fishing in the summer and want to catch fish, trolling is a great way to do it. Following are some ideas for more effective and productive trolling.

If you're after smallmouth bass and they're being finicky in the summer, backtrolling a live bait rig with either a leech or night crawler is a great way to catch them.

If you're after smallmouth bass and they're being finicky in the summer, backtrolling a live bait rig with either a leech or night crawler is a great way to catch them.​

Anglers can troll with either a bow mount or transom mount electric motor, or with the boat's main engine. I use my main engine most of the time, especially when a little more speed is called for, and in the summer, many predator fish like a faster moving bait. Not always, but often.

When the fish are spread out, or when you're after fish species that don't school, such as northern pike or muskies, you'll want to cover water, and forward trolling is the best way to do that. Put the motor in forward gear, put baits in the water, and get going.

As you troll, make gradual "S" turns. By doing so, you'll be presenting baits at different speeds. As you turn, the bait on the outside line will speed up, the bait on the inside line will slow down. If you notice that you're getting a lot of strikes on one line or the other during a turn, you should speed up or slow down.

Planer boards work great when trolling, especially in states that allow anglers multiple lines. They allow you to get more lines in the water, so you can experiment with different lures shapes, colors, and sizes.

When we're forward trolling, many anglers like to put their rods in rod-holders. That's about the only way that multiple lines can be fished, but it's also much less tiring. Holding onto a rod pulling a big crankbait wears on your arm after a while.

However, even when trolling forward slowly for walleyes with bottom-bouncers and spinners, it works well to put the rod in a rod holder. Use a longer, more limber rod, and let the fish pull the rod over pretty good before taking the rod out of the rod holder. It seems like when we hold the rod, we set the hook too soon and miss too many fish. Folbe rod holders are the strongest I've found, and it's very easy to get the rod out of the holder when a fish hits.

When the fish are schooled tightly in a small area, backtrolling is a great way to effectively work an area. Backtrolling enables an angler to have precision control, and also allows us to go very slowly. Walleyes, crappies, and smallmouth bass will often school on precise spots. When they're on deeper structures, as they often are in the summer, we usually don't start fishing until we locate fish on the sonar. I have been using Raymarine sonar all summer and am very impressed with the detail that it reveals. When fish are located, we set up a backtrolling pass that will take us through the fish. Jigs or live-bait rigs are what we usually use when backtrolling.

Modern outboards are trolling machines. The 90 horsepower Evinrude E-TEC HO that I use gets my almost 19-foot boat up on plane quickly, but also trolls down as slow as I need. There are no fumes like there used to be years ago and it's quiet and very fuel efficient. With today's outboards, trolling is a breeze, and that's good, because trolling is a great way to catch fish any time of the year, but especially during the summer.

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