Captain James Netzel Talks Striper Trolling!

posted in: How-Tos | 0

Captain James Netzel of Tightlines Guide Service is one of the premier trolling experts in the Sacramento Area.
As a special for Fish Sniffer Readers, we spoke with Captain James as he was gearing up for the fall striped bass run. As usual, he was more than happy to pass on a few tips and discuss the details behind his striper trolling setup.


“Last season I started using the new Cousins Tackle Fiberglass Trolling Rod 7’9” FSTR 795. It has a strong back bone so you can control the fish and it has a slow tip where you can see the action of your lure. You can tell when you have a weed or when its working right. The soft tip keeps pressure on the fish, something that a stiff rod won’t do. It doesn’t have a trigger grip which makes it easier to get in and out of the rod holder. A lot of times with a trigger, when you pull it out of the rod holder it will get stuck. The handle is carbon fiber which holds up well in the rod holder and it has a foam (EVA) foregrip that is really comfortable.”
“I use line counter reels (Shimano Tekota 300), so that I can tell clients to let their lines out to a certain length and they can stop it right there. I set the side rods a little bit shorter. If you have all four rods out the same distance, when you get a fish they will tangle. Also when you are reeling in a fish, you know how far they are from the boat.


“I use 25lb Fins 40G Braid which is equivalent to 4lb monofilament in diameter, it cuts through the water and is super sensitive and super strong and super smooth. It doesn’t cut into your guides on your rod. I like blue (color) because the water out there is green and I can see the blue. I use a 3′ leader of 25lb Gamma Copolymer tied to the braid with a double unit knot. I’ll use a Duo Lock size # 54 snap to attach my bait. The reason I use a snap is so that I can change colors and lures real quick without having to retie.”


“I troll mostly Yo-Zuri minnow plugs. I always add a matching colored straight tail worm to the back treble of the Yo-Zuri. I like orange/gold, silver with a dark back, chartreuse, or red head/white. I don’t have a color preference for dirty or clear water, I’ll use whatever the fish are biting. There’s some years when you’ll be fishing clear water and the fluorescent colors work better than the silver colors.”
Set Back and Trolling Speed
“When trolling shallow divers, I will set them at 110′ on the side rods and 120′ out the back. For deep dive it’s 65′ on the side and 70′ on the back. Trolling speed depends on tide and the flow. We are trolling a little bit slower this year because we don’t have the flow we did last year. For shallow divers I go between 4 – 6 miles per hour and for deep trolling, 2 ½ – 4 miles per hour. Sometimes I will troll my deep divers faster, at the same speeds as my shallow divers, it just depends.”

Tides and More:

“I like the first hour after a tidal change and I will run the tide to maximize productive fishing time. If you start down low you can fish the hour after the change for an hour and then go up river 4 to 5 miles, fish that tide change,then go up another 4 to 5 miles to fish that tide change. The bite is best when water temps are between 57 and 65 degrees. Dirty water and debris can make fishing tough, so look for clear water with at least 18” of visibility. ”

Where to Start:

“For shallow trolling I look for depths between 7′ to 9′ and between 12′ to 15′ for deep trolling. And wherever that is on the river, sometimes it up against a weedline and sometimes its out in the middle of the river. Some weedlines are shallow and I’ll run them shallow, and then I’ll move out 10′ to 15′ feet from that and run the same area deep. It changes all the time.”
A special thanks to Captain James and if you would like to get a first hand on the water lesson, consider booking a trip with Tight Lines Guide Service.
Captain James can be reached at (888) 975 – 0990 or