“Long-Lining” is a newer fishing technique that’s quite specialized, and has made some big waves when it comes to deep-water crankbaiting techniques.
Now, when you think of “longlining”, what may first come to mind is commercial fishing – longlining is the term used in the industrial fishing world for feeding out lines sometimes in excess of 10 miles in length, baited with up to 12,000 hooks and trawled either through the middle of the water column, or on the bottom of the water to catch massive amounts of fish for commercial sale.
But “long-lining” for non commercial fisherman is actually completely different – it’s a unique blend of two techniques that have long been used, but were never combined until the late ‘80s and early ‘90s by freshwater bass fishermen. It’s a hybridization of standard cast-and-retrieve crankbaiting, and trolling methods that are usually used in deeper waters and saltwater.
At its most basic, long-lining can be thought of a specialized crankbaiting technique. The angler, equipped with an appropriate rod and deep-diving crankbait, weighted down if necessary, casts as far as possible, and then maneuvers his/her boat away from their cast until their reel – usually rigged with 300+ meters of line – has completely run out of line to feed. At this time, the angler cuts the engine, and begins the long reeling in of the line that’s been fed out.
This results in a cast and bait that sinks much farther in the water column than a standard cast-and-retrieve motion does – allowing a deeper, longer retrieve through the target area where the fish you’re targeting reside.
By pulling the crankbait through deeper waters, often over distances of 300 meters or more, deep water fish that normally would not be reached by a standard crankbaiting technique are drawn to the bait, and have ample time to pursue, inspect, and strike it.
This fishing technique is quite a bit slower than both standard trolling and normal cast-and-retrieve crankbaiting – you can expect to get about 5-10 retrieves per hour, max, given the length of line fed out – but it yields impressive results, and it’s a great technique to know about if you’re having trouble reeling in shallower fish.
This technique can also be performed in a trolling style if you’re in deeper waters, or have several rods you’d like to use at once – simply cast them all and then move your boat away from the baits as you would normally, and then lock in your rods once you’ve reached maximum distance, and then just troll as you would with a standard, shorter-length technique.
Just as with the cast-and-retrieve method, this style of trolling results in the bait being dragged behind the boat at maximum depth, and can attract quite a few fish who would normally be far to deep to notice your baits.
Longline Gear Needed
Generally, you’ll want a medium-action, fast-taper rod of 8 feet+, in order to get maximum cast distances, and to make reeling in your line more smooth and easy.
A good crankbait is a necessity for long-lining – usually a deeply lipped, self-weighted crankbait is the best choice, as these can dive deeply and stay low in the water column, leading to maximum time in the target range.
This is what we’ll be reviewing in this article – there are differing opinions over which type of fishing line is the best.
FLUOROCARBON LINE is preferred by some long-line anglers because it sinks more easily than some other choices, allowing them to eschew heavier, more deeply lipped crankbaits, or rigs that incorporate weights.
MONOFILAMENT LINE is also popular, due to its low cost, simple and strong design, and slightly better shock absorption than fluorocarbon line. There are also some longliners who claim that lighter lines, such as monofilament, help crankbaits “dive deeper”. Whatever your opinion, monofilament line is certainly a good choice for long, deep fishing operations like longlining due to its low cost and consistent character.
SUPERLINE/BRAIDED LINE is quite a bit more expensive than some other choices, but does have several advantages that make it a great choice when longline crankbaiting. First, braided line is very strong and sensitive – the sensitivity is a must-have when long-lining, as you’ll be dealing with huge lengths of line, 300+ yards long, and still need a good response so that you can quickly stick your hook when you get a solid bite. Second, braided line is much stronger than fluoro or mono line, while still maintaining a smaller diameter, which allows you to rig up smaller rods and reels with the huge lengths of line required for longlining without being forced to invest in a larger, high capacity reel.
Optional - Fishing Sonar
Having a good sonar unit can be helpful when long-lining – you can find concentrations of bass or other deep fish and find the ideal place to cast your bait before moving away. It’s not expressly necessary, however – it just aids in quicker location of fishing hotspots.
Monofilament line is appropriate for this technique – it’s inexpensive, strong, and has decent sensitivity, though it’s a little more difficult to use than comparable fluorocarbon or braided lines. However, some longliners swear by monofilament due to its light weight, which they say aids in keeping baits deeper, longer.
This monofilament line comes in a 1000-yard spool, which is perfect for rigging up multiple rods if you plan on doing a lot longline crankbaiting. A 12-20lb line is usually recommended for long-line fishing – even if you’re going after smaller fish, the long distances and water surface-tension that stresses the line requires a rather robust line compared to standard crank-and-retrieve techniques.
This line is also appropriate both for saltwater and freshwater, making it very versatile in all conditions.
While it’s a bit more expensive than its nylon counterpart, this trilene monofilament line delivers great shock and impact resistance, and has a little bit of stretch for increased fighting power, while still maintaining enough sensitivity for a quick and efficient hook setting.
It’s also very abrasion resistant and tough, making it a great choice if you plan to do some very deep crankbaiting where you’re in danger of dragging your line on the bottom of the water.
This line by Seaguar is one of the best bulk options available, perfect for long-lining. Like all fluorocarbon line, it’s very strong, sensitive, and doesn’t have too much stretch, so it’s great for long-lining when you need to be able to feel strikes even from extra-long fishing distances.
It’s also almost invisible underwater, which is a bonus when long-lining, as sometimes more highly visible lines can spook fish, and sinks more rapidly and easily than comparable braided lines or monofilament lines, allowing for deeper crankbait diving, and holding the depth for long distances.
A 12-20lb tested line is best for longlining applications, though you can upsize if you’ve got a sizeable reel, or are doing this technique in an area with especially large and powerful fish.
Braided lines are often very popular when long-lining due to their massive strength and unparalleled sensitivity. The braided construction also allows for thinner lines – usually about half the thickness of fluorocarbon or monofilament. This allows non specialized reels to be more easily used for long-lining applications – if your reel can hold 100m of mono or fluoro, it can usually hold 200m of comparable strength braided line.
Braided lines also tend to sink fairly well, though not as easily as fluorocarbon lines. Their one drawback is their higher visibility – it is wise to use a fluoro or mono lead and tippet setup on thicker braided lines if you’re working in areas that have fish that are more easily spooked.
Despite the higher visibility of this line, however, its sensitivity, durability, and strength make it a great choice for this more specialized fishing application.
If you need some leader line for your braided long-line fishing rig, this offering from KastKing is a great deal – it’s made of monofilament, but with proprietary technology that gives it unparalleled sensitivity, low stretch, and low line memory. And while it’s got a small diameter and transparent water profile, it maintains plenty of strength.
And the main draw of this line is how transparent it is in the water – a high quality monofilament refracts almost no light, and has a smaller diameter than most comparable lines in its weight class, all leading to a spook-free fishing experience, even with heavy, thick, and brighter braided lines.
Long-lining is a unique and fun technique to try, whether you usually troll for fish, or prefer cast-and-retrieve crankbait methods. It’s a unique combination of both that is fun, relaxing, and a great way to catch fish who usually stay too deep in the water to latch on to your standard crankbaits.
So whether you prefer the longline cast-and-retrieve methods, or plan on some heavy-duty longline trolling, the advice and products above will help you get started on your journey to mastering this unique fishing technique.