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How to Setup the Trotline

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Trotline fishing is fun and a good recreational activity, besides providing some of the best table fares. Setting up a trotline is an art, and many new ways and tricks may lead to catching more fish than a traditional trotline could. 


In this article, we are going through some of the basic facts about trotlines and catfish behavior towards them as well as tips to catch more fish on a trotline. Of course, hooks play a crucial role in it, so we will also go through the best trotline hooks to catch more catfish.

Setting Up a Trotline - Best Trotline Hooks


A trotline setup proves to be a simple way to catch a large number of catfish with minimum effort. Some anglers buy a ready-made setup, while others prefer to make their own. Whatever you do, just be sure of using the best trotline hooks. To build a trotline setup, you need the following supplies:

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A Mainline or Cord


It is a single string that runs usually on top of the water while other lines are attached to it. For that, you need a thick roll of hard nylon, and the length of this main line may vary from a few feet to dozens of feet depending on how long you want to cover the river or lake for fishing.


Anchors & Floats


To make sure your main line stays in place, you need to use weights as anchors as well as a few floats. Some anglers use two-boat anchors or trees to secure each end of the trotline in the water. You can use a few floats to keep your trotline secure along the surface. You can use any lightweight float, like empty plastic bottles, milk jugs, or rubber floats.

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The lines going down from the main line to the hooks are drop lines. You can use a roll of hard nylon, thinner than the main line, to make drop lines. The average length of these drop lines varies between 3 to 4 feet, and they are placed at least 8 to 10 feet apart.

Trotline Hook Swivels


For smaller fish, trotline clips can work, but for larger catfish, you need to use trotline hook swivels, 1 to 2 per dropline. The purpose of these trotline hook swivels is to ensure the line doesn't twist or get tangled when a fish bites a hook. Use heavy-duty swivels like 3/0 to 6/0 for this purpose. Our Max-Catch circle hooks with the 3/0 swivel are the best trotline hooks for any setup.

Trotline Clip


Drop Lines are attached to the main line with trotline clips or a trotline clip with swivel each. It's better to use a trotline clip with swivel than to use clips alone.

Trotline Circle Hooks


You need to place 1 to 2 catfish hooks per drop line. Trotline circle hooks are the best option; for catching bigger catfish, you can use Max-Catch 12/0 and 13/0 as the best trotline hooks. In fact, trotline circle hooks can catch a minimum of 20% more fish per trotline than a line with any other hook.


How Long Should an Ideal Trotline Be?


Well, this depends on the body of water you are fishing in. For instance, in rivers, catfish are more likely to reside in shallow flats next to deep water. So, you may need to run a short trotline along the bank in this case. At other times, when you may want to go from one bank to another, you need a longer trotline. The length of the main line may vary from at least 100 yards to miles.


How Many Hooks Should I Tie?


As a general rule, you need to tie a hook every six feet on a trotline. This average distance between hooks provides good coverage while also preventing their entanglement. Use Max-Catch as the trotline circle hooks for this purpose.


What is the Best Bait for Catfish?


Any type of natural bait serves the purpose very well, as it stays on the hook without being pulled off by a hungry catfish. Max-Catch 12/0 & 13/0 are the best trotline hooks, as their circle shape ensures bait remains entangled there for a long time. Fishermen using live bait on circle hooks find it works like magic, especially when targeting large catfish. Chicken livers, minnows, shad, blizzards, and other natural baits are good choices. Usually, you should place your trotline in an area of a river or lake that is at least six feet deep to bring the bait easily detectable by most catfish that swim along the bottom. If, despite 8 to 12 hours of placement, your bait is still on the hooks without any sign of biting, you need to relocate your trotline to any other spot.


Wrapping Up


Trotlines, if placed appropriately, can be a surefire way to catch a large number of fish. Often, trotline fishing is not considered as exciting and thrilling as other fishing methods like rods and reels. But if you want to have a big feast for your family with caught fish, opt for trotline fishing. To rig a trotline, secure a main line between two anchor points, attach evenly placed dropper lines using a trotline clip with swivel, then add the best trotline hooks. Add weight for stability, then fill trotline circle hooks with any natural bait and attach floats to each end to make your trotline visible. Check this setup every 12 hours. Happy fishing!

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