Search This Blog

Calibrating Line Counter Reels

By Mark Romanack/Founder
Precision Trolling Data, LLC

Jake enjoys the fruits of our labor with this massive walleye caught
Precision Trolling crankbaits on Lake Erie. The depth data produced
by Precision Trolling Data would not be nearly as useful if it weren’t
for the author’s ability to “calibrate” all of his trolling reels and to
replicate trolling leads again and again.
Recently the question of calibrating line counter reels was forwarded to our Precision Trolling Data staff. The following is my answer and good information for anyone who trolls. 

I believe it was our Precision Trolling staff that popularized the idea of calibrating line counter reels more than 20 years ago when we started publishing our now famous “Dive Curve” data. Prior to that time no one had fully understood the need to calibrate line counter reels, because it wasn’t fully understood how lead length or the amount of line between the rod tip and the lure influenced lure diving ability. Our research first confirmed the relationship between both line diameter and lead length in regards to influencing the diving depth of crankbaits and other commonly trolled fishing hardware.

Salmon and Trout Savvy

By Mark Romanack

King salmon fishing in the Great Lakes has been up and down over the
years. This one came from Lake Ontario which is currently the hottest
salmon fishery among the five Great Lakes. Buzz Ramsey of Yakima
Bait caught this one using a Mag Lip plug.
Here in the Great Lakes salmon fishing is mostly about king salmon, with a little attention thrown in towards coho or silvers. Kings are the least expensive salmon to stock and the only pacific salmon that seemingly has any reasonable chance of natural reproduction here in the Great Lakes.

Because kings smolt at just six months of age, they can be raised in hatchery situations for far less money than it takes to raise a coho, steelhead or brown trout which smolt at approximately 18 months. Also, naturally reared kings suffer from less natural predation from osprey, otters, herons and bald eagles because they leave their natal rivers about a year earlier than other salmonids. 

American Made, the American Way??? Not Really

Life is good in America despite the fact a lot of manufactures have turned
their back on American labor in favor of producing goods that yield more
corporate profits. When consumes buy products based solely on price,
American made goods typically take it on the chin.
By Mark Romanack

As Americans we can be a fickle lot. Look at our track record when it comes to politics if you need evidence of our fence setting tendencies! We the blue bloods of the heartland are prone to promoting slogans like “Buy American”, but when we get to the cash register a whole new idealism is spawned. Excuse the continued pun, but as fishermen we often talk out one gill cover and then react differently out the other.

The “Buy American” axiom is just one good example of that truism. A lot of fishing tackle and marine accessories are made over seas, but if you look close there are a significant amount of companies based right here in the USA that pride themselves on designing, manufacturing and selling their products in the US of A.

Alternative to Line Counter Reels

No line counters, no problem. Baitcasting reels like this can be used for
 serious trolling chores with the tips outlines in this blog.
By Mark Romanack

I’ve made a career out of using and recommending line counter reels for trolling. No matter how you slice it, using a line counter reel is the most efficient way to monitor trolling leads and also to duplicate productive fishing patterns.

The problem with line counter reels is they are expensive, especially for the novice angler who fishes only a few times a year. It’s true that a line counter reel is the best option, it’s not the only option to consider.

An ordinary level-wind or baitcasting reel can be used for lots of trolling applications effectively. Depending on the trolling chore at hand, a baitcasting reel may or may not have adequate line capacity. For example, a typical bass style baitcasting reel has a line capacity of about 120 yards of 10-12 pound test monofilament line. A reel like this loaded with 20 pound test monofilament is not going to have the line capacity needed for say downrigger fishing.

Mark's Mailbag - Do I have to tune Rapala crankbaits?

Mark's Mailbag are occasional posts to the blog in response to questions people submit on the Fishing 411 website.  Mark personally responds to the question and when relevant, we repost his answer here.  If you have a question you would like to ask Mark, please visit us at

On October 3rd, Shawn wrote - 
Hi Mark, I Been told that Rapala's crankbaits don't have to be tuned. Is that true?

Mark replies - Shawn, all crankbaits need to be tuned, but Rapala baits tend to be water ready more than other brands on average. The balsa versions, i.e.: Shad Raps, Taildancers, original minnows are all spot on. The plastic baits, Husky Jerk, RS Shad Raps are also good, but need some tweaking from time to time. Any crankbait, even the ones that come tuned in the package will eventually get knocked out of tune and need adjustment. A pair of needle nose pliers is the tool for the job. Great question Shawn, thanks for writing.

Fresh Fish Made Easy

By Mark Romanack

The author isn’t completely giving up “fried fish”
but moving forward he’s going to open his
mindset to include grilling and steaming
fish more often.
Not long ago I had my annual check up at the doctor. Seems my cholesterol is a touch high and 50+ years of abuse is starting to take a toll. My doctor gave me a printed out diet to adhere to and to my horror “fried fish” wasn’t on the approved menu! What the heck??

Okay, if fried fish is no longer in my diet, what about grilling and steaming my favorite fish? Turns out, fish cooked without the luxury of a pan full of grease actually tastes good too! Amazing isn’t it?

Since I’m no stranger to the BBQ grill, cooking my fish over charcoal seemed like a logical place to make some overdue changes in my diet. It’s amazing what a fresh fillet coated with a little lemon pepper, a touch of margarine and lots of lemon or lime juice can taste so wonderful. 

I like to get my fire going then set my attention to washing and drying the fish fillet. Next I season to taste and place a couple sheets of aluminum foil directly over the fire. The fish goes on top of the foil and I squeeze on a liberal amount of lemon or lime juice.