Leadcore …..The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Some novice  fisherman don’t even know what lead core fishing line is, let alone how, when and where to use it. Well, it is simply a braided nylon line that has lead in the center.  It’s most commonly available in #18, #27, #36 pound tests,  however you can get it in many other strengths as well, like: 12, 15, 20, 25, 40, 45, 50, 60 and 63  pound tests.  The weight of the line does not seem to affect the sinking rate,  but it is wise to use one weight class and stick with it to reduce confusion.  The line changes color in ten yard increments to be able to see exactly how much line you have out. A full spool of 100 yards long core is commonly called a “full core”. So, a core and a half  is 15 colors or 150 yards and a half core is 5 colors or 50 yards.  The real sinking rate depends entirely on the size, weight and type of the lure being trolled. Trolling speed is also a determining  factor! A normal speed will bring the lure down from 4-6 feet on average. A full core should bring a lure down about 50-60  feet in most cases. A recommended knot to attach core to the leader is called a Willis Knot: http://www.chitown-angler.com/1tackle/fishingknots/willisk.pdf

Trolling with leadcore fishing line has been around for close to ten years, but has really taken off  in the past five years or so  on the Great Lakes. Even with how long  it’s been used successfully,  there are still  many who are intimidated or simply refuse to use it. I think it’s because it’s a real pain in the ass to use! Read on, and you will find out why…..

The Good – The very first time I used leadcore fishing line, my fishing buddy and myself  limited out in about two hours with a mixed bag of   Kings, Steelhead and Coho for two fisherman. It  all happened in the last two hours of  a full day of trolling.  It was one of those times when you say, ” What the hell, we might as well give it a shot, nothing else is working!”  Of all the years I’ve been fishing on the Great Lakes for salmon this was really the biggest surprise and  eye opener I have ever had! To this day, I look back and still have a problem believing it actually happened! Needless to say,  I’ve  been trolling with core ever since.  Most of the time it is the most productive of all other methods used.  Although it’s not totally clear, here is most salmon fisherman, and myself  agree why core is so effective:  Many times  a bait is 100 yards behind the boat and perhaps 40-50 feet deep, which puts a bait a long distance from all the noise and disturbance caused by boats, motors and cannonballs making the fish less spooked.  Also, making turns with the  heavier weighted line gives a more erratic action to the lure compared to regular fishing line. No one really knows for sure, but what ever the reasons, I will never stop using core.

The Bad – Trolling with leadcore fishing line has some draw backs as well.  Letting out a 100 yards or so of line takes forever and a day! If you try to let it out too fast, it tends to cause a backlash. Getting  a  backlash when trolling with leadcore fishing line is your worst nightmare! It takes forever to untangle, and often causes a kink (knot) in the line. If you aren’t real patient, you can loose some or all of the line on the spool. Then when all of the line finally goes out, it feels like you’re trolling with a ten pound cannon ball, and that’s without a fish! With a good size salmon on, it feels like you’re  pulling in a 100 pound Tuna. There is a tremendous amount of strain on your rod & reel, and you need to use a stout rod, and an extra large capacity trolling reel with a good drag that can hold a full core of #27 pound line.  Cheap plastic rod holders are not recommended for use with full core of any length. Finally, tying the leader and backing to core takes a lot of time and practice, and if not done correctly could cause you to loose a fish of a lifetime.

The Ugly – The picture on the front page says it all! A big gob of  core I lost on my last fishing trip!  Now here comes the ugly, and I really mean ugly!  Just yesterday, 09/18/2012 while fishing in front of Burns ditch in Portage Indiana,   I lost a full core of 27 pound line  and another hundred yards of mono off another rig. Here is what happened:  A gigantic  King hit  and took out about a hundred yards of line and crossed a flat line we had out. It seemed like we had doubles, but as it turns out:  It was only one King that connected and crossed with another line! The fish went back and forth, got some leverage and broke off.  We ended up pulling most of the lines in by hand because the core was so badly kinked and tangled they could not get through the rod guides.  The two lines got  tangled with each other beyond repair and had to be cut off . We not only lost a big fish, but we also lost a lure and almost a full core of lead line and some mono as well. I figured it was about $35.00 shot in the ass!  Two months ago, something similar  happened to me with four lines out. A big king hit , crossed over two lines of  core and two mono lines! We could not reel in the lines that got tangled. We ended up losing the fish, two lures and much of the core.  This little bag of tricks ended up costing me about $80.00!……

Part of the “Ugly”, is my own fault!  I had most of my problems when I wasn’t running enough spread between my lines.  From now on, I will  run 3, 4 or 5 colors off a planer board. That will  pretty much give me the best of both worlds. I can still run some lead core, but will get a wider spread, which should prevent most of the tangling issues.

Lead core fishing line  is a fabulous invention! If you don’t at least give it a try, you are missing the boat…..  A PUN INTENDED!