Now that you have purchased your first Striper Addiction rigs itís time to get a few tips from the person that developed them. First and foremost, these rigs came about from the necessity of developing a trolling rig that will enhance your chance to get the fish to hit the one main targeted bait.
In my home state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency saw the need to address the umbrella rig and itís potential to do harm to a limited fishery. Many of the reservoirs in my area are small compared to those in East Tennessee and other states. The water during the peak summer period can reach into the low 90ís and this creates low dissolved oxygen content in the water column.
When this happens, hooked fish have an extremely high mortality rate. With a limit of two fish per person allowed daily, the agency saw the potential for over-killing fish. A full hooked umbrella rig carries and average of 9 baits per rig. Multiple hookups of two, three and even as many as seven or more fish could and has happened. In a finite resource on smaller impoundments, this could result in the unnecessary killing of over-limit fish. Since Tennessee is know across the country as one destination where catching a trophy fish is very possible, local angling groups and the agency developed the restriction on the rigs.
Almost all umbrella rigs that have been developed to this point were designed to catch fish in any way possible. The spread of the rigs from tip to tip can exceed 26 inches in diameter. There was no thought into rig development on focusing fish to the one-targeted bait. This resulted in many false hits on the hookless teasers of the rigs. In the mid 90ís I began work on developing a rig that would direct the fish to the main hooked bait. The one need I first saw was to create a smaller diameter rig that closed the distance between the teasers. In watching video during an In-Fisherman television show, they showed clips of different schools of baits and how they moved about in the water. The first thing I noticed was how close they traveled together. Often they were no more then an inch apart and it was the stragglers that ventured further out that would get hit by predators. Click! A light went off in my head and I began developing rigs with smaller diameters from tip to tip. Problem here was how close is too close. Remember that the closer the teasers are the more likely you could experience tangles in your teasers. In large rigs the teasers are spread out far enough that predators can separate the individuals baits and hit any one of them.
Another detail I realized was that the wire on the rigs didnít need to be as heavy since there wasnít going to be fish fighting off the arms. Finally, with every other rig on the market, the center was nothing more then a chunk of lead. We could debate on a on as to whether this lead deterred fish from hitting the rig. The one thing I do know is if you create a bait out of the center you can only enhance the drawing power of the rig. Striper Addiction rigs have actually been classified as a bait because of this.
Because my rigs are colored in a variety of schemes, coordinating the teasers to match the color of the rig is helpful. Up until I developed the Quick Teasers, anglers were restricted to using jigs and forced to cut the hooks off. Anglers pleaded with me to offer them a more economical way to set rigs up that didnít require them to destroy valuable jigs and afforded them fast set up to their rigs.
A perfect solution to this was the Quick Teasers that come in the same variety of colors as the rigs. I canít tell you how many fishermen have praised this development. Because no knots are required to attach the teasers to the rigs, setting a rig up to fish can be done in just a minute or two. Sure beats spending 15 to 20 minutes assembling rigs and destroying $10.00 to $15.00 dollars worth of bucktail jigs.
Soft plastics are something that finishes out the quick teasers and helps bring the rig to life. I now carry two types of soft plastics. A shad body lure and the standard curly tail grub. The primary colors used in striper fishing are white/pearl and chartreuse hues. However, as I come into contact with folks from different areas of the country, Iíve discovered unique ways others set their trolling rigs up. For instance, one trick Iíve learned is that during the spring of the year when the shad and other bait fish are in the spawning mode, the color of their appearance changes to a charcoal, or black phase. Anglers discovered that by changing their plastics to match the color of the baitfish improved their catch rates. Hearing this I tried it out and as Andy Griffith would say, ďIíll be.Ē It worked and this old dog learned a new trick. The one exception to his rule may be that the deeper the stripers are the brighter you want your rig to be. A perfect example of this took place during the NSBA 2006 Gold Cup Championship held in May on Cherokee Lake, Tennessee. What we discovered is the fish were holding between 35 and 40 feet deep. We placed two rigs at that depth and it was the bright colored white and hot pink combination that resulted in the most strikes. We also used a white and chartreuse set up as well. This rig did produce a few fish, but it was the brighter white and pink rig that the fish could see and attack easier.
The ďYĒ factor is something that most striper fisherman new to trolling overlook as important tool in focusing the stripers and hybrids to channel their aggression to the main hooked bait. I carry my quick teasers in two primary lengths of 3 and 6 inches. There is a reason for this. I want my rigs to form a ďYĒ shape. I place the 3-inch teasers to the outside of the arms and the 6-inch teasers are attached to middle rung of each arm. The main bait trails back an average of about 18 inches. No matter how you turn my rig you see the ďYĒ shape of the rig. As fish move in to attack the rig the confusing cluster formed by this shape makes it possible to only separate the main bait as a straggler. This cuts down on the number of false hits you may receive and increases your efficiency as a troller.
You still can get hit on the arms particularly when you get into a school of smaller, or more numerous fish. Thatís why it pays to always have plenty of extra soft plastics on hand. Since there are no hooks on the teasers, ripping the plastics off is always a possibility.
Places to look for the fish.
Stripers and hybrids are, as we all know, schooling fish. Find one and youíre more likely to find several fish. Many of the places you would look for fish to present live bait to, are good choices to troll at. One advantage you have in trolling over live bait fishing is the ability to stay with a school of fish.
Another advantage to trolling is the time saved spent catching live bait. How many times have you pulled up to a spot, find fish, bait up and by the time youíre rigged out, the fish have moved. If your bait is limited and was tough to catch, that can be frustrating to say the least.
The one great thing to trolling Iíve discovered in the past 35 years of trolling is the new locations you find that fish can be found at. Proof of that was during a tournament 7 years ago when my partner and I trolled through an area and decided to leave the rigs out as we traveled to the next spot a ľ mile away. While over deep, featureless water in no mans land; we doubled up on two fish that shattered the clubs weight for a two fish weigh-in. Had we done as we normally do and pull lines to run to the next location, we would have missed those fish.
Humps, bars and points are certainly key locations to focus on. These locations prove time and time again to be effective areas. Depending on the depth of these features dictates how you troll them.
A shallow spot may require you to swing the boat out over deeper water and cut in to pull the rigs over the top of the structure.
The main reason you would want to do this is to keep from spooking the fish off the spot. Many big fish have been caught using this tactic in the past several years. You really canít run your boat with the big engine cranking in less then 10 feet of water and not spook the fish, but you can swing your rigs into that water and get bit.
Zigzagging is another technique that works because it covers more water and creates a rise and fall to the rigs. Whenever you turn one way, or another, the inside rigs will fall slightly as the tension on the line decreases in that direction. Be careful not to turn too sharply, or you may tangle your lines.
Stop and run is another tactic many anglers use to get their rigs down to deeper fish. Most rigs have a defined depth at which they troll. This is dictated by the weight of the rig and the speed at which you are trolling. Fish appearing on the graph holding deeper than the rigs are being pulled can be caught by disengaging the engine into neutral for a few seconds and then re-engaging the drive. This allows your rigs to free fall down to the fish and when the rig shoots up through them it will often entice a strike.
Transitioning fish; Fish are often located and caught from known and identified structure, but what about those fish that may be transitioning between areas? Hereís what I know to be true. Schools of fish travel predictable patterns between staging and feeding areas and from one feeding area to another. With that said, here is how I approach an area and locate the fish. First lets look at a bank shoreline that has several good feeding points, or bars located up and down itís length. What I find to be true about stripers and hybrids is often true about most schooling predator fish. They travel in one direction depending on the time of day. For instance, on one of my local lakes I had the routine down so pat you could literally set your watch by it. During the daytime hours you found fish suspended over open water at a fairly constant depth. As mid-day turned to afternoon and early evening these fish would set up along the first of a series of feeding points heading into the creek arm. For better than a month you could set your watch and know the fish would be located there. As it became later in the day, fish would move further back to the next feeding point. This pattern repeated itself throughout the evening. Knowing this information allowed me to know where the fish would be at the time of my arrival. It really didnít matter if I had 5 hours to fish before dark, or 30 minutes. I was always able to put my clients into fish immediately upon setting lines. Understanding how fish transition from one area to another is a sure way to put a limit of fish in the boat in a short amount of time. Whether youíre after walleyes or stripers, all fish transition at some point during the day. Donít assume that distance traveled is the key. For some species like walleyes and even salmon to a degree, the transition may be vertical and not a horizontal path. Here the travel pattern may be only a few inches to ten feet or more. But, they are located at the same spot.
Open water travels for species like stripers, bluefish and similar species can be narrowed down to confine your search. Areas you find them feeding at early and late in the day is one piece of the puzzle. The other is where you locate them during the middle of the day. A simple line between the two areas tells you their transitioning path. Thus allowing you to continue the bite at any time of the day.
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