Lure Fishing Guide to Traces & Mainlines by Andy Lush

Solid traces are essential items if you are going to fish with jerkbaits, they are used for two reasons firstly to prevent tangles during the cast and more importantly to stop the trace fouling the front treble as the jerkbait glides forward, a problem that will occur if you try using flexible traces .
Solid traces are made from either stainless steel or titanium, stainless steel solid traces perform very well but can and do get bent especially if you use a landing net to land your fish, the solid trace/boom can go through the netting as the pike twists itself around in the net, result a bent trace which can be straightened but is never completely straight again this can make the bait have a bias towards one side, titanium is a new material to the angling world it is corrosion resistant making it ideal for many angling and saltwater applications it also posses another characteristic which makes it perfect for solid traces which is the fact that it springs back into its original shape after being bent, amazing stuff you may well have seen T.V. adverts for titanium framed glasses which get squashed into a ball than spring back into their original shape, titanium traces outlast and out perform stainless steel! I also use these traces for large topwater "walk the dog" stick baits, such as Musky Mania's Doc, the stiff trace makes the bait pivot exagerating the right angle turn that is so effective at catching pike and other gamefish.

These new generation traces are fantastic, they "outlast and out perform" stainless steel. Available in both solid [see write up above] and flexible versions this materials advantage is the fact that it's almost impossible to bend or kink it. Try this test, wrap a flexible titanium trace around a pencil tightly then let go! "you'll be amazed" the wire just springs off and lays straight again. I can now use a flexible trace for my spoons, jigs and smaller lures when the subtlety of a flexible trace is required. I use 30lb 7 strand titanium traces on all my spinning outfits while it's the 60lb traces for my outsized lures (except jerkbaits) on my multiplier rods.

Most of us now use braided lines for all our lure fishing and fantastic they are too, but have you ever considered the effect that braid has on the working depth of our lures? Braided lines are made from either Kevlar, Spectra or Dynema these materials naturally float, sinking braids have another element braided into them to make them sink but this increases the diameter and tends to reduce their casting range.

Before loading your reel with braid always put some monofilament on first for backing, half a dozen layers is enough to prevent "line slippage", braid tied directly to the spool will slip when you attempt to set the hook giving the impression that your reels drag has broken, join braid to mono using a double grinner/uni knot.

On most occasions when fishing depths less than 20' the floating braids perform perfectly, once you start fishing deeper water, say 30 or 40' you'll start to become aware of the need to compensate for the lift from the braided line. Most often when I'm fishing deep water it's on trout waters in the late autumn or early winter which usually requires my lures to track horizontally whether casting or, if allowed, trolling.

1] By changing back to mono line, you will undoubtedly increase the depth you can effectively fish, due to its lack of buoyancy, but you lose all contact ("feel") with your lures and when trolling, you also lose a lot of hooking power due to the lines stretch [20-30%].
2] Using sinking braid is partly the solution, good for casting less effective when trolling due to the increased line diameter, the water pressure/drag on the line lifts lures like spoons and other sinking lures.
3] Reducing diameter by using lighter line strength, in my opinion, is not a great idea. I'm putting my lures where a lot of pike and snags live. Thinner weaker lines are a recipe for expensive loses.
4] Adding weight is the best option in my experience, to many people I meet are afraid of adding weight or are unaware of the path their lures are taking as they retrieve them. Here is the low down on Casting and Trolling methods.

Spoons need to be heavy, increase size and or gauge/thickness to compensate for the lift, in recent years I've used a lot of soft plastic lures in situations where previously I would have chosen a spoon , fact is that you can use much heavier soft plastic lures which keeps them swimming horizontally close to the bottom yet still having an attractive action due to their soft flexible tails. Bull Dawgs are a great choice, a neat conversion to give you depth control is to add extra weight to the them, remove the front treble replace it with a large Duo Lock clip then add 2, 3 or even 4oz of lead!, you can cast regular dawgs with 2oz on and bump bottom in 30' right up to the boat, when trolling use 4oz and now you are able to hit bottom in 30-40'.

Trolling spoons on braid has pained me for some time. I know from my own experience that on the heavy outfits I use, spoons fish at only 50% of the depth that I used to achieve on mono. One solution is to use the Kuusamo trolling vanes, these are very effective, the device is attached about 4'-6' ahead of the trace, I would recommend marking the line at 10' intervals above the vane to help estimate its running depth, different sizes allow different depths to be explored, 33g 6m-20', 70g 9m-30' & 90g 12m-40' plus they give you the option of trolling faster whilst maintaining their depth due to the angled diving lip which grips the water.

A tactic we've found effective is to "leger troll" shallow diving crankbaits I prefer flat sided minnow baits such as Jakes or Shallow Invaders for this method. I tie an 18" fixed paternoster lead link using a four turn water knot [with a Duo lock clip on the end] out of 15lb mono to my 50lb Fireline about 4-6' ahead of my trace, I clip a 4oz lead on lower the rig to the bottom and start trolling, I watch the sounder trying to keep to a pre-determined depth, as the depth changes I adjust the amount of line I let out by "bottom bouncing" this involves lifting the lead off the bottom then lowering it again until it touches bottom, if your rod tip reaches the waters surface and the line is still tight let out more line until it goes slack indicating the leads hit bottom, you've gone into deeper water, on the other hand if the line goes slack before the rod tip reaches the surface then take up the slack as the water has got shallower. The beauty of this system is that if a snag is found, you loose the lead, which is ahead of your lure, but the plug floats up in the water away from danger.
Finally trolling "deep diving" floating crankbaits is also very effective [see "Grinding" write up].