Use a Trolley Rig to Catch More Fish

trolley rig for fishing
When the fish are farther off the pier or jetty, few rigs work better than the Trolley Rig.

For most onshore anglers, there are few events quite as frustrating as having your bait fly off the hook while making a long distance cast. While this may not be as big of an issue for those using a well-tethered offering like squid, which can be threaded onto the hook several times, it can be a major problem for anglers fishing with live bait or frozen. But, if you happen to be fishing from a pier, jetty, bridge, or cliff that allows you an angled access down to the water below, using a trolley rig can offer a solution to this dilemma.

This way of rigging gives shore-bound anglers an edge in gaining access to waters further away from shore, where larger predator species are more likely to swim. Although trolley rigs have been used in Hawaii for generations, and in south Florida for decades, they can actually catch fish just about anywhere in the world. All it will take is for anglers in other areas to catch on themselves.

Single Pole

There are two basic techniques for fishing a trolley rig; one using a single pole, and one using a double pole set up. The first step using a single pole involves tying a heavy sinker that matches the capacity of your rod to the terminal end of your line. Be sure to use a securely tied pyramid or flat sand sinker that will anchor itself, rather than one that will roll around on the bottom like a torpedo sinker might. Cast the weighted line out as far as possible, let it sink to the bottom and then bring in the slack to tighten the line. Next, take an 18- to 22-inch length of a heavier test fluorocarbon line and construct a leader with a heavy duty clip swivel on one end and your selected hook on the other. After baiting up, simply clip the swivel onto your main line and let it slide down toward the bottom until it reaches the weight on the terminal end of the main line.

Double Pole

Anglers who are fishing from a pier, bridge, or other stabilized platform have the luxury of being able to use the two pole system, which is a bit more refined. In addition to the main pole, a ‘fighting rod’ is used as well. Instead of the baited leader being clipped to the main weighted line, a clip swivel with a clothespin on a short leader is attached. The fighting pole is equipped with a lightly weighted leader and the bait, which is then clipped to the clothespin and allowed to slide down the main line all the way to the bottom. When a fish strikes the baited line on the fighting pole it quickly detaches from the main rig in much the same way as when fishing with a downrigger, and the angler is able to fight the fish without also fighting the cumbersome bottom weight as well.​

The Takeaway

In the end, one of the nice things about the trolley rig is that your first cast always involves nothing more than hurling out a single weight at the end of the line. As a result, you are not only likely to achieve a greater distance because of decreased air resistance, but also because you already possess the knowledge that you need not hold back in order to keep your bait from flying off the hook in the middle of a long cast.