How To Troll The Flats (For Redfish, Snook & Trout)

By: Tony Acevedo on October 15, 2019
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redfish trolling flats

Have you ever been trolling for redfish before?

Ever trolled on a grass flat?

How about out of a kayak?

If not, you’re going to love this!

Trolling can be an effective way to catch fish on the flats, especially if you’re on the move a lot, because you can’t catch fish if you don’t have your lure in the water!

But if you want to maximize your chances of catching fish while trolling the flats, there are six tips to keep in mind.

Want to know what those tips are?

Watch the video below.

6 Tips For Trolling The Flats [VIDEO]

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If you want to try trolling the flats, make sure to keep these six tips in mind:

1. Troll perpendicular to the wind.

When you’re paddling or motoring, you’ll be spooking fish as you pass over them.

These fish will dart off to the sides, which is where you want your lure to be, and by traveling perpendicular to the wind, the wind can act as an outrigger and keep your lure off to the side.

2. Angle your rod holder out away from the kayak or boat.

This is another tactic that will help keep your lure off to the sides, as opposed to directly behind your boat.

3. Put your rod on the side opposite the wind is blowing.

This tip will also help keep your lure off to the side.

4. Don’t just paddle steadily forward.

Slowing down, stopping, and starting up again are all ways that switch up the lure’s movement and encourage a fish to strike it.

It’s kinda like working the lure with your rod.

5. Use the right lures.

Here are several lures that I suggest trolling with:

6. Rig them weedless.

Of course, when you’re trolling, you’re going to be passing through a lot of water and floating grass or debris.

Rigging your baits weedless will help keep your lure debris-free and attractive to fish.

Conclusion

fishing for redfish

Trolling the flats is a fun way to catch fish, especially if you’re on the move a lot traveling from spot to spot.

Have you tried trolling the flats before?

What did you think?

Have any questions about trolling the flats?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who should try this style of fishing, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Michael White
8 months ago

For trolling are you tying a line to the lure? If so do you have any trouble with the line twisting?

Roy B
8 months ago

I fish out of a pedal kayak in the Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass areas. Trolling as I move from spot to spot has been an extremely successful method for me. I have caught trout, Redfish, bluefish, ladyfish and Snook. Keeping a lure in the water is my top priority when kayak fishing. Sometimes my next spot is a thirty minute pedal so trolling saves me a lot of wasted time and gives me a chance to keep catching fish. My go to trolling lure is a paddletail. Thanks Salt Strong! You guys rock!!

Mark Priester
Mark Priester
8 months ago

I like to regulate the speed so the lure bumps the bottom . Weed less gold spoons ,paddle tails ,curly tails and shad imitators are all deadly. BTW Flounder can’t resist when you bump the bottom in their turf . Action turns on around November till Feb/March around NE FL.

Chris Guerrieri
8 months ago

great job. You can add additional trolling lines using planner boards. Pretty easy to manage, but I wouldn’t recommend using more than two at a time. They are directional, meaning they will pull your line out to either the port or starboard side.

Steven Free
8 months ago

Yea Tony great video and info even though I haven’t used my yak in about 3 years now on the acct that the one area I loved to fish has changed so much on it being drained to early in the spring for weed control gauna reservoir and isnt filled to a good fishing level until early fall i still use my boat to troll in fact in the wintertime especially when it gets really cold for trout that’s my primary way of fishing but unlike you that fish in ole skeeter lagoon thats very shallow i have a spot in another river that’s attached to the st John’s river called ft George river just inside sisters creek area I usually troll just outside of the grasslines and stay just outside to avoid the oyster bars that line them I like about a 5 and a half to 6 ft depth in either an incoming or outgoing tide the area is very close to the Atlantic Ocean inlet so the tides can get pretty strong but the action is pretty consistent I tried doing it in my old hobbie but it’s tough fighting the current and tide one has a much easier time using a boat in this location because of this I use gulp grubs in pearl and a quarter ounce bighead in red color and silver and black slash rapalas but sometimes I use gold and black as well but during the winter the water does clear up a lot so silver seems to work best also rattletraps in silver seems to work also I just put the motor in gear and no more according to my lowrance fish finder that’s about 1.5mph I have 2 rodholders that I use that keeps my lures from getting to close to the rear of my boat I have them angled to the side a great technique to find where the fish are at works for me😁

Capt. Ray Markham
Capt. Ray Markham
8 months ago

For years I’ve slow-trolled the MirrOlure 52M and TTR lures with terrific success on trout, redfish, jacks, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and others. While they are best trolled in 3 to 5-foot depths you do have to be aware of the lures fouling with grass and keeping them clear of the grass. MirrOlure’s Catch 2000 and MirrOdine suspending lures are even better in shallower water from 2 to 4-feet when trolling as they suspend or sink much more slowly. One of the most effective lure combos that work well for folks who have difficulty casting or working lures with finesse is the DOA Deadly Combo that has a popping cork and artificial shrimp arrangement. Just use a length of leader from the cork that allows the lure to suspend just above the top of the grass and move it slowly. Wave action will give the floating cork movement up and down which in turn lightly twitches the shrimp. I’ve actually won trout tournaments with this rig using this method. Obviously, weedless rigs like Texas-style rigged jerk baits and swim baits or paddle tails all work well when trolling uneven bottom with a lot of grass.

Steven Free
8 months ago

Never heard of using a twitchbait like the ole mirror lure 52m for trolling I figured if it didn’t have a lip on it it wasn’t ment for trolling I thought the lip is what gives the bait it’s action where as using it as a twitch bait it’s to be jerked or twitched simulating a dying or injured baitfish where the lip isn’t needed I guess you learn something new everyday especially in this great fishing club of saltstrong thanks capt I might try that sometime 😊

Capt. Ray Markham
Capt. Ray Markham
8 months ago
Reply to  Steven Free

Most people over-work MirrOlures and many other hard baits. In fact, the 52 and TT models will have an action similar to a lipped bait and wobble when pulled at the right speed, but otherwise, the bait has little action other than darting when twitched. When fishing a DOA Baitbuster for tarpon, again, most people overwork the lure and fish hardly touch it but give it a chance to appear to be a dying bait and it gets nailed. Suspending lures sometimes have a tendency to get hit more often than faster moving lures because they stay in a fish’s strike zone longer. A trolled lure will reach its optimal speed for a fish and how he wants it when it gets eaten. It’s your job to find out what that optimal speed is for the conditions you’re fishing. because it changes.

David Stone
8 months ago

As others have said, great video. I used to troll tandem bucktail jigs in 2-4 feet of water along sandbars for trout. I had some success but nothing to get excited about, especially when I ended up cleaning grass off the jigs on most trolls. Your suggestion for a paddle tail or swim bait rigged weedless on a weighted hook is something I will put into my tool bag for my next trip on the flats.

Thank you!!!!

Nick
8 months ago

👍 I did some trolling earlier this year. Pulled a rattle trap and couldn’t keep trout off of it. Between them and the mackerel I was constantly reeling in fish but no reds or snook. It’s tough around anclote with so much free floating grass everywhere but I’ll try the soft baits and see what happens.. good article! Trolling lets you relax a bit.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

Thanks for this topic and great video. Always learning something from you guys. Remind everyone to remember to reel that lure in when you get to the spot you want to fish…I had my worst experience kayaking recently with just that. I left a new expensive topwater lure (that I bought for that trip) behind me and the current of a cut I was going to work pulled the lure into a wharf and got completely tangled. Because the current was so strong, in my attempt to save the lure (which I lost) I dang near capsized, lost 2 trout against the wharf that were on my stringer and had my baitcaster that I was trolling so backlashed I had to cut out all the line (which was also new.) Several lessons learned from your video!
1. Weedless set-up
2. Baitcaster probably not best idea
3. Expensive topwater lure probably not either.
4. Reel in the trolling line before anchoring up!

Lol…can’t wait to try it again now that I’ve got a little better direction.

btw…trip was a huge success with several other Trout and 2 nice 20+” Reds. Trolling disaster didn’t ruin the day!

Steven Free
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Unless I’m using a plastic lure like a jig I primarily use baitcasters with most of my plugs except for topwater where I do use an spinning reel never had a problem although yes it definitely would be a good idea to reel in your rig while dealing with strong currents and or tides like my post just said I don’t even use my yak anymore fishing in strong tidal and current areas because it’s so much work fighting them and to me fishing is supposed to be fun and not work anyways good suggestion and sorry you had a bad day

Frank Ladd
7 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I hate to admit it but my “Trolling Rod” often has a large Zebco spincaster reel on it. No tangles, cheap, works great for flounder, trout and creek bluefish. It;s not so go when you get a larger redfish, but I’ve never hooked one of those trolling. These reels are so easy to use and rinse and clean. I use them with the 20 mono.

michael collins
8 months ago

This link is to side planers and you can see they come in a variety of sizes. The OR 38 Mini Planer would work well for what you are doing. The rubber releases won’t damage the line and the red release on the rear of the board has a pin in the middle of the pad to secure it to the line. This is the board that has won a number of crappie contests using spinning gear. The mini board can also be used when your boat is stationary and will be pulled out and away in a decent tide. https://www.offshoretackle.com/planerboards.html

Dale King
8 months ago

Another great way to troll the flats is with a popping cork and z man shrimp. The wind will carry the popping cork away from the boat and you can adjust the lure depth by the amount of leader. Do it alot here in hatteras where it’s always windy, drift and troll.

Dean Carter
8 months ago

Good stuff T!! I use trolling to locate trout, especially in the winter. Tight lines! Fish on and on!

CAPTAIN DAVE WRIGHT
8 months ago

Great tips on flats trolling. I do this often with clients to locate fish on large flats. Fish seem to congregate differently on windy days, once we a few bites we know where to fish. I love the tip about trilling perpendicular to the wind, I am goung to start doing that. Keep up the good work you guys!!

Robbie Johnson
8 months ago

Great video never thought about the wind trolling makes sense in a bass tournament in a boat
No trolling aloud thanks Tony

Gary Friedman
8 months ago

Love the video. Never would of thought to troll the flats.

Jacinda
8 months ago

I usually catch trout doing this. Great tips, Tony!

Curtis Thompson
8 months ago

Noticed that the fish had swallowed the lure. Is that the way it generally happens? How to save a fish that swallows a lure might be a good subject. Getting those deep hooks out doesn’t leave me with a healthy fish very often.

Richard Conant
8 months ago

As a long time troller in freshwater (and former Charter Captain on Lake Ontario) a product you may want to become familiar with is the yellowbird side planar. Early on we used them for trout and salmon, before we abandoned them for bigger boards. They are very popular for walleyes and work well out of a kayak. Check out the link I have attached to see how they work. They are inexpensive and very effective. The 5″ model is perfect for kayaks.

https://www.yellowbirdproducts.com/how-to-use-a-planer-board/

CAPTAIN DAVE WRIGHT
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Conant

You are correct! I fished Lake Erie ( Walleye) for years using these small size planers. I now use them when fishing nearshore in the Gulf. Works great on spooky fish and allows me to fish through a feeding frenzy without spooking them with my boat.

Joseph Carney
8 months ago

I have caught redfish in my kayak trolling a weedless gold spoon with a piece of gulp bait attached.

Eric Hill
8 months ago

I honestly never thought about doing this for reds. It makes complete sense to maximize your possibilities of catching between spots. Definitely going to do this from now on. Thanks guys.

Randal Jones
8 months ago

Well alrighty then! Why not. I usually stand on my bow with a couple different rods steering the trolling motor, for sure going to give this a try. Thanks Tony.

Keith Donald
8 months ago

Thoughts on a weedless shrimp presentation for trolling?

Tom Wildman
8 months ago

Tony,
Very informative. I kayak in coastal NC and I try to troll as much as I can when going from spot to spot. I usually troll with a Rapala X Rap or a Mirrolure. I occasionally catch a trout with them but never a red. One thing I am never sure of is the speed to troll. We have some big tides here so running with the tides or against is a major factor. I use a GPS in my kayak and I try to keep my speed around 2 mph or a bit less. You didn’t mention how fast to troll so If you could address this, I would certainly appreciate it. Again always enjoy your work!
Thanks, Tom

DuWayne Mason
8 months ago
Reply to  Tom Wildman

I agree with the speed. I stay between 1 to 1.5 mph on my gps. Even slower in a channel. I usually use my copper spoon. Have caught snook and redfish with it.

Steven Free
8 months ago
Reply to  Tom Wildman

I never knew how fast I was going when I trolled in my yak but in my boat my lowrance hook 2 5x has a speedometer on it and when I just kick my 40hp four stroke Yamaha in gear and no more it reads 1.5mph and found that speed to be perfect for inshore trolling and I’m sure it’s relatively about the same speed in a yak hope that helps

Tom Wildman
8 months ago
Reply to  Steven Free

Steven
Thanks for the input. I just started to use a Strike King redfish spinner rig and recently tried trolling with that. It seems when I got a bit above 2 mph, the thump from the rig stopped. If I kept my speed to 1.5-2.0 mph, the feedback from the rod seemed better. Tom

Shawn Bland
8 months ago

I always troll a lure behind my pro angler. I recently started trolling a live pinfish……They get absolutely crushed constantly. I have caught Jacks, reds, trout, shark, even a cobia.

Tom Wildman
8 months ago
Reply to  Shawn Bland

Shawn,
What hook do you use to troll the pinfish? Thanks, Tom

Shawn
8 months ago
Reply to  Tom Wildman

I use a Owner Mutu light wire 2/0 circle hook. I hook them in the nose. If you tail hook them you will catch more sharks. I guess they struggle more tail hooked.

Phil Yazel
8 months ago

Thanks Tony ,always so clear and informative , I always enjoy your videos

Raymond Bierschenk
8 months ago

Something else for me to try out of my Outback! Great tips Tony! I have tried trolling a spoon but it was behind me instead of off to the side. (I have yet to catch anything on a spoon, either fresh or salt, so it’s not one of my “confidence” lures!)

DuWayne Mason
8 months ago

I troll from my outback but I us my copper spoon. Have caught snook and redfish this way. I key aspect for me is to troll slow around 1 to 1.5 mph. I use gps to achieve that.

Matthew Brand
8 months ago

great tip Tony. Thank you!