Great Lakes Trolling Tactics Featuring Mag Lip
By: Mark Romanack
The 3.5 Mag Lip is a staple for catching chinook salmon in the spring of the year. This particular color “Grinch” has produced great results for the Fishing 411 crew in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
The immense size of the Great Lakes leads anglers to spend much of their time on the water trolling. Trolling is the only practical way to cover so much water and stay on roaming schools of salmon, trout and walleye.
The Mag Lip is an ideal lure for open water trolling situations because this unique bait enjoys excellent action when fished at all common trolling speeds from ultra slow to blazing fast. Mag Lip also features a “skip beat” action that helps to trigger explosive strikes. Few wobbling crankbaits can match the multi-species success that Mag Lip delivers day in and day out.
MAG LIP SIZES
Mag Lip comes in seven different sizes including 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 models. The same “skip beat” action is present in all the sizes of Mag Lip, making this family of crankbaits one of the most versatile on the market.
Mag Lip was designed originally as a plug for back-trolling steelhead. Go figure that this bait has quickly dominated the steelhead fishing scene. The most common sizes of Mag Lip for steelhead include the 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 models.
Chinook salmon literally explode on the Mag Lip. The aggressive wobble, flash and noise the Mag Lip delivers seems to drive chinook salmon nuts. The most productive sizes of Mag Lip for chinook include the 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 models. The smaller sizes tend to produce best in clear waters and the larger models are especially good in stained to turbid water conditions.
Coho salmon are well known as a species that routinely falls victim to body baits. The wide wobble and flash of the Mag Lip is literally “coho candy” making this lure a must have for spring, summer and also fall trolling opportunities.
Because coho are smaller on average than other salmon, the smaller 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 sizes of the Mag Lip produce best on silvers.
The brown trout has a reputation for loving bottom structure and also for hammering wobbling plugs. In the spring when browns tend to be in shallow waters, trolling Mag Lip in combination with in-line planer boards allows anglers to spread out their lines, cover water and hook up with impressive numbers of trout.
The 3.0 and 3.5 sizes of Mag Lip are ideally suited to board trolling tactics. Later in the year when browns slip into deeper water, Mag Lip can also be fished in combination with three way swivel rigs or downriggers to stay in contact with bottom even in deep water.
Commonly considered a “trout and salmon plug” the Mag Lip is also deadly effective on warm water species such as this walleye. Once the water temperature hits 60 degrees, Mag Lip are exceptionally effective on Great Lakes walleye when trolled 2.0 to 3.5 MPH.
Lake trout grow big, they are abundant and the Mag Lip is this particular species kryptonite. No other lure with the exception of the Spin n Glo consistently catches as many lake trout as the Mag Lip.
Because lake trout can range in size from modest two pounders to giants tipping the scales at more than 40 pounds, anglers will need a wide variety of Mag Lip sizes up to and including the 5.0 versions. Big lake trout love big baits and the 4.5 and 5.0 Mag Lip deliver consistent success on these denizens of the deep.
While the Mag Lip was designed with cold water species in mind, walleye love them too. When water temperatures in the spring and summer begin to warm into the 60 degree range, walleye can’t resist the wide wobble of the Mag Lip. The Mag Lip has caught on so quickly in places like Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie that Yakima Bait has now introduced a whole line up of Mag Lip colors aimed specifically at the hard core walleye angler.
The top Mag Lip sizes for walleye include the 3.0, 3.5 and the 4.0 models.
Mag Lip is the ideal bait for fishing in combination with downriggers. Because these lures have a significant Dive Curve, they are the perfect lure choice for Great Lakes trolling. By setting the Mag Lip 25, 50 or even 100 feet behind a downrigger weight, these lures dive below the downrigger ball and do an excellent job of contacting fish in water undisturbed by the downrigger cable and ball.
PLANER BOARD TROLLING
Because Mag Lip are all perfectly tuned in the package, they are the ideal crankbait for fishing in combination with planer boards. In most places of the Great Lakes anglers can fish two and even three lines per person, making it possible to fish with huge spreads of lures that literally saturate the water column.
The Mag Lip can be married up to diving planers when the fish are found deeper than the natural diving ability of these lures. Diving planers are commonly used to fill the trolling niche found between the downrigger and planer board lines.
The Mag Lip 3.0 and 3.5 tend to be some of the most productive sizes for fishing in combination with diving planers.
Mag Lip can also be fished in combination with sinking lines such as lead core, stranded copper line or weighted stainless steel wire. These weighted lines help Mag Lip achieve greater depths.
One of the most common ways that sinking lines equipped with Mag Lip are fished in the Great Lakes is by matching up these rigs to in-line planer boards. To achieve this goal it’s necessary to spool up segments of sinking line sandwiched between a leader and a backing line. Attach the Mag Lip to the leader and let out all the leader and sinking line until the backing line is exposed on the reel. Now attach an in-line board to the backing line and let the planer board pull this rig out to the side of the boat.
THREE WAY RIGS
At times running simple three way swivel rigs straight out the back of the boat can be effective when targeting Great Lakes trout, salmon and walleye. A three way set up is best fished in contact with the bottom. To avoid the Mag Lip snagging, many anglers remove the belly hook.
This simple set up can be deadly effective for targeting species that like to hang close to the bottom like brown trout, lake trout and walleye.
A WORD ON LURE COLOR
Mag Lip comes in a host of colors designed to trigger explosive strikes from salmon, trout and walleye. Some general color guidelines to follow include selecting baits with a lot of chrome, lime green and chartreuse for chinook salmon, brightly painted baits that feature flame, cerise, fluorescent red and pink are often the best colors for coho salmon.
Steelhead, browns and lake trout can’t resist silver and gold metallic finishes and walleye just can’t say no to fire tiger, metallic gold, chartreuse and lime colored baits. Keeping these basic color suggestions in mind will help anglers dial in success on a wide variety of fish species.
Using scent products designed to produce a fish attracting scent stream in the water can significantly improve trolling success. Yakima Bait produces the Rooster Tail Spray Scent which is made with water soluble fish oils that have proven themselves attractive to trout, salmon and walleye.
The Herring and Trout/Kokanee formulas are good choices for trout and salmon fishing applications. The Garlic Nightcrawler is an excellent scent for targeting walleye. It only takes a couple squirts to create a powerful scent stream. For best results re-apply every 30 minutes.
SUMMING IT UP
The Mag Lip is one of the most versatile trolling baits on the market. This unique wobbling plug can be trolled slow or fast while enjoying excellent action. Even better, Mag Lip performs well with all the common Great Lakes trolling presentations.
Because Mag Lip works well with other popular Great Lakes trolling lures and presentations, they are especially useful for the angler who is serious about saturating the water column with baits and catching maximum numbers of fish.