Trolling with wire line works in many locations where striped bass (rockfish), bluefish, trout, or flounder can be found. Wire line trolling is difficult to get used to but the results are very consistent.

Anglers troll very slowly (2 to 3 knots) with special tackle. Two lines from the stern are rigs spooled with #30 monel wire. On these lines go a 3 way swivel. A 24 or 28 oz. sinker is added on 3-4’section of #30 mono. The third part of the swivel gets a 20-30′ leader with either a single lure or a pair of bucktails.

The leader is less likely to tangle if it is made of #50 or #80 mono. If the area trolled is full of snags, the leader may need to be #30 in order to sacrifice it and get the wire back in the event of a hang-up.

The jigs can be 1/2 to 3 oz. and come in various colors. A shad body or curly tail worm is added to the jig. White jigs and white shad are often productive. Double jigs are a good option on at least one of the wire rigs.

The first rig is dropped slowly until one “thumps” on the bottom and line is let out until the rig constantly thumps in 40′ of water. In depths over 40′ the rig may not reach all the way on the bottom. The sister rig is also dropped down until it thumps once, then put in gear. The rig will quickly rise to a level a bit above the bottom.

This method keeps proper spacing of the two wire rigs with one now at or near the bottom and the other just above. A little practice is required to get proficient at trolling these without tangles. Watching the line guide on the reel is one way to get an idea of how much line each rig has out.

This technique is quite effective and will catch striped bass (rockfish), sea trout (weakfish), and bluefish. The deep rig which is constantly thumping normally catches the most fish, especially if the rig uses double jigs. One jig is set about 18 inches from the rearmost 3 way swivel and the other about 30 inches.

In addition to the wire line rigs, anglers troll other lines on outriggers. Forward rod holders or roof rod holders work well also. The rigger lines are set farther back, usually at 150′ and 180′ respectively.

The lines must be put out in a specific order; longest lines first, followed by the deep wire line and shallower wire line. This method minimizes tangles which are no fun in the heavy wind and cold typical of striped bass fishing. The longer lines also get paired jigs but without the dropper sinker.

In the Chesapeake Bay, wire line fishing can be productive near Lower Tangier Sound Artificial Reef, Tangier Light, Kedges Straits, the Mud Leads, buoys 62, 72A, 72, H.S., and other areas.

Related Information

Striped Bass

Fishing for Trophy Striped Bass

Fishing for Chesapeake Bay School Rockfish

Wire Line Trolling for Flounder

Fish Species

Saltwater Fishing