A decade ago, salmon fishermen across the Great Lakes started fine-tuning the art of copper-line trolling for kings and cohos. No secret fishing manual was uncovered. Instead, technology had produced a more effective stranded copper line.
Nowadays, this multi-strand copper wire is all the rage with Great Lakes salmon anglers because it achieves twice as much depth per length as leadcore line. And walleye anglers are catching on, too. In the summer or during seasonal transitions when walleyes are staged in deep water, copper-wire trolling systems are proving to be the most effective way to take small presentations deep and maintain depth control through the target zone. Better yet, its thin diameter excels at speeds in excess of 2.5 mph, while still maintaining depth. Lures such as lightweight trolling spoons, shallow stickbaits, and even crawler harnesses can be trolled extremely deep with relative ease.
Simple to use–and a lot less expensive than you might think (about $25 a spool)–copper line provides several other advantages over traditional leadcore trolling line. It can help cut a wide trolling swath if run on planer boards, or it can simply be flatlined behind the boat, opening up depth ranges that just aren’t possible without enormous lengths of line.
There are two preferred rigging methods for walleyes. Anglers can either completely spool up line-counter reels with a small amount of backing and copper line or top-shot it with a predetermined amount of copper on a given reel, sandwiched between a leader and backing. Each reel then carries a different length of copper line–one with 40 feet, another with 60 feet, and so on. This allows you to spread out lures the same way you would with segmented leadcore or snap weights. You then use speed changes or additional backing line to adjust depth. Letting out additional backing line allows more copper to be in the water, causing the whole rig to achieve greater depth.
An Albright knot is one of the best ways to attach the copper to the leader or backing line. For those who don’t have a diverse knot arsenal, a haywire twist can be used on a small Spro Power Swivel, with a regular knot used to attach the leader to the other end of the swivel. Because it does so many things very well, you can be certain that copper is not going away anytime soon. It flat out catches fish.