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How Deep Does it Go?


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First test of copper and leadcore with Smart Troll says maybe not as deep as you think.

Several years ago a highly successful salmon charter captain and tournament angler told me that to the best of his reckoning, a full 10 colors of 27-pound leadcore with a magnum spoon, trolled at 2.6 mph, achieved 54 feet deep.

That has been my point of reference ever since.

Then other cutting-edge charter captains started preaching that 300 feet of 45-pound copper (the same length as 10 colors of leadcore) went down through the water column and trolled almost twice as deep as a full core.

Well, after a careful test with the new Smart Troll depth probe, a device you attach to your fishing line that sends back real-time depth information, neither leadcore or copper is going anywhere close to the depths many of us Great Lakes anglers have come to believe.

gregg_sset-up2.jpg

Mariuz with the probe that relayed some hard-to-believe data on the depths of leadcore and copper.

Capt. Gregg Mariuz runs Profishient Charters and founded Blood Run Tackle, which sells several different styles of copper as well as mono and braided line. On May 20, Mariuz headed out of Saugatuck with his first mate Rod, 12 miles offshore where, on a nearly flat calm day, he sent a downrigger down and changed directions several times to ascertain there were no deep water currents. Trolling straight west at 2.5 mph, he attached a Smart Troll probe at the end of four different kinds of weighted line, one at a time: 27-pound leadcore (from another company), 32-pound copper, 45-pound copper and 60-pound copper. Each line had a 25-foot leader with a magnum Silver Streak spoon without a hook—he didn’t want a fish to get hooked and interrupt the data gathering. Then, after making sure the probe was beaming depth info back to the device’s transducer, he let out, one at a time, each copper rig as much as 600 feet, and the 10 colors of leadcore. Each copper was marked with tape at 50-foot increments. With the maximum amount of line out, he let each rig stay in the water for 10 minutes to make absolutely sure the reading was stable. Then he brought each line up 50 feet, let it stabilize, and recorded the depth. Then he repeated the process at 50-foot increments until each copper was just 50 feet out, and the leadcore was running with just one color under the water’s surface.

As most salmon trollers spool at least one rod with 300 feet of copper and/or 10 colors of leadcore, let’s look at those numbers first:

• 300 feet of 32-pound copper runs at 49 feet.

• 300 feet of 45-pound copper runs at 52 feet.

• 300 feet of 60-pound copper runs at 64 feet.

• 300 feet (10 colors) of leadcore runs at 37 feet.

The most surprising data to me is that the 45-pound and 32-pound copper are so close together, although when you consider that 32-pound has a smaller diameter and therefore has less water resistance, maybe it shouldn’t be a shocker.

smarttrollprobe_on_wire.jpg

Smart Troll probe rigged on stainless steel wire with two swivels. Mariuz attached this to the end of the weighted line, with a 25-foot leader of 30-pound fluorocarbon between it and hookless magnum spoon.

I was also surprised leadcore doesn’t get down nearly as far as I had thought. In fact, while copper has a fairly even progression of depth versus line out, shorter segments of leadcore don’t get very deep at all. For instance, five colors (50 yards or 150 feet) of leadcore only goes down 14 feet. Compare that to 150 feet of the different pound-tests of copper:

• 150 feet of 32-pound copper runs at 24 feet.

• 150 feet of 45-pound copper runs at 27 feet.

• 150 feet of 60-pound copper runs at 34 feet.

I wasn’t along for the ride, but having known Capt. Mariuz for some time, I don’t doubt that he was careful and truthful in recording these results.

“I couldn’t come out and start making stuff up,†Mariuz said. “It would be too easy for someone else to do the same tests.â€

Certainly, some guys who have dredged up zebra mussels on 10 colors of leadcore over 60 feet of water or snagged bottom in 100 feet with 300 feet of copper out are going to question the accuracy of the Smart Troll, but I think time and further testing will show these numbers to be pretty close to right on. Experiences such as touching bottom in depths greater than this data indicates these weighted lines run are likely due to other variables such as turning the boat or letting line out too fast.

Others might question the fact that Mariuz’s company doesn’t make leadcore, and he has a vested interest in selling copper lines—and the numbers indicate leadcore is a lightweight when it comes to getting deep. However that may be, I for one, am not going to ditch my leadcore rods—they’ve caught way too many fish over the years. What this first round of data does for me is wonder just how far up salmon will charge to grab a lure. I believed Mariuz when he said:

“This isn’t a Blood Run thing—I just wanted to collect the data and then let others know about it.â€

One thing is for sure: We salmon trollers have whole lot more to discover.

Blood Run just put up a chart comparing their various line tests of copper here: http://www.bloodruntackle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/CopperDiveChart.pdf

Edited by Dave Mull
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That will no doubt be pretty interesting stuff Bruce! If I remember correctly (for once), Nick said adding a Tadpole five or so feet in front of a lure gained 15 feet in depth. The Mag ought to really pull it down there.

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It helps to confirm the fact that salmon will rise great distances to go after food/lures.

I look forward to seing the comparison of wire to braid with the same diver.

Thanks for the info Greg.

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I would say with the addition of the smart troll its still a guessing game to the exact depth your lures are running. I base my conclusion on the fact that the smart troll probe looks as if it is not the most hydrodynamic in design and I'm sure creates water resistance just my 2 cents.

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I would say with the addition of the smart troll its still a guessing game to the exact depth your lures are running. I base my conclusion on the fact that the smart troll probe looks as if it is not the most hydrodynamic in design and I'm sure creates water resistance just my 2 cents.

This is exactly what I was thinking. The probe needs to be cone shaped on both ends to cut down on the resistance in the water. I bet there would be a 5'-10' foot increase in depth and put the numbers back to depths we "believe" they actually achieve.

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This is exactly what I was thinking. The probe needs to be cone shaped on both ends to cut down on the resistance in the water. I bet there would be a 5'-10' foot increase in depth and put the numbers back to depths we "believe" they actually achieve.

I own a smart troll system and there is no way that the probes are causing enough resistance to bring your lines up 5-10'. They are tiny and made of carbon fiber so incredibly light. Here is a link to the website, they are a 1/2 inch diameter and less than 4 inches long. There is a picture on the link I pasted below showing the probe next to a dime. If you think these probes cause that much resistance, what would a 13" paddle, that weighs five times as much do?

http://smarttroll.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=5

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I would say with the addition of the smart troll its still a guessing game to the exact depth your lures are running. I base my conclusion on the fact that the smart troll probe looks as if it is not the most hydrodynamic in design and I'm sure creates water resistance just my 2 cents.

That's a very valid thought and I thought about this myself, but I think the fact that the ST probe itself is really small (as the subsequent poster who has one has pointed out) and the fact it weighs around 1/2 an ounce might put it right on. But you guys could be right. We'll need the Mark Romanack gang to put on their scuba gear and actually observe the ST trolled past their marked anchor line to know for sure. I think the effect of the ST probe's weight will be even more of a factor when guys start getting info at walleye speeds. But again, there will be no real way to tell.

Awhile ago, like around 20 or 25 years ago, walleye pro Mike McClelland on South Dakota's Lake Oahe did a bunch of testing of crankbait depths by tying two boats together. The front boat let out (I think) 100 feet of line, and the back boat, exactly 100 feet behind, marked the lure with a sonar. That might be a good way to check the effect of the Smart Troll itself.

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Im curious as to what it would do at plus or minus .5mph or how big of a difference that would make

i gotta believe a huge difference..considering .5 mph is a fairly large percentage of your overall speed..perhaps i was doing a tenth of a mph slower than 2.5 and thats why my 300 hit bottom..soooo many variables

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One thing to remember about Coppers fellas is the twist rate per inch. Each manufactures is different. The more twist between the stands per inch the heavier the copper is and the more it should sink. The Smart Troll will take a lot of guessing out of the equation if it works the way it's supposed to.

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im not disputing numbers here...all i know is when my 300 pulls back in 65 ft and i pull it in with zebra mussels i gotta believe it hit bottom...and i wasnt turning or running a plug..

I ran my system for the first time last weekend and only for an hour because I had limited time on the water, but it seemed to be accurate. I only ran mine off my downrigger because I wanted to play with it at different depths, etc. It would always be within a few feet of the amount of line out on my downrigger counter. The most it was off was about 10 feet when I had 125' of downrigger cable out. It would be interesting to attach it to copper or core and drive east until it picked up bottom and note the depth on the graph and the smart troll when that happens. Then, take the probe off and repeat to see if you pick up bottom in the same depth. This would answer two questions: (1) if the probe is providing accurate readings; and (2) how much the probe is causing the line to rise. If I have time this weekend, I might give it a try.

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One thing to remember about Coppers fellas is the twist rate per inch. Each manufactures is different. The more twist between the stands per inch the heavier the copper is and the more it should sink. The Smart Troll will take a lot of guessing out of the equation if it works the way it's supposed to.

False...we ran atomik and Morgans as well...2 foot delta.

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We did the same testing on 45# copper last year with a fishhawk tdr(out to 1000ft). The numbers are almost the exact same as the numbers Gregg has with the smarttroll probe. I completely agree with the numbers. We did our testing with Morgan's copper.

Current plays a HUGE roll in how copper travels through the water. For instance, while prefishing for the south haven tournament we got on to a good group of fish directly out in front of Saugatuk. While fishing 68-70 feet we were on a daily basis running a 400foot copper. Only once did it touch bottom, which was on an extremely hard turn to get back on fish.

Last year for instance we were fishing nearly the same spot in august. Much to our surprise in that same 68-70FoW we were pulling zebras off of a 250 copper over and over and over again.

I think what makes copper so effective if the fact it DOES move so much in the water column.

There is a simple way to get the numbers for your self. Grab a $130 Fish hawk TDR and drop it down the line. It is a much cheaper unit, and i believe it is just as accurate. It may not be accurate to the inch, but it gives you an idea of where it runs.

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There is a simple way to get the numbers for your self. Grab a $130 Fish hawk TDR and drop it down the line. It is a much cheaper unit, and i believe it is just as accurate. It may not be accurate to the inch, but it gives you an idea of where it runs.

I also own a Fish Hawk TDR. While significantly cheaper, there are a few problems with attempting to obtain the data this way. First, the TDR is exponentially larger both in physical footprint and in weight, so if the Smart Troll probe is effecting the data, the TDR would do so to a much greater extent. Second, you cannot get any live data from the TDR, you only get the read back when you pull it up so you can't determine, for example, that your copper was at 45' when your speed bumped up to 2.6, but was down at 50' when your speed slowed to 2.3; you would just see that the depth had varied when you eventually pull the probe out of the water. Finally, you can't fish with the TDR on your line, at least I wouldn't.

I think the TDR is a great, cheap device to get a snapshot of the temperate of the water column, but it really isn't an option with any comparison to the Smart Troll system IMO, owning both products.

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False...we ran atomik and Morgans as well...2 foot delta.

Not sure the truth in this but I talked to the old guy that owns morgans at the show a few years back when he first started selling it and he said that opti morgans and atomic are all the same line from the same factory from the same spooling machine. where howies was different in twist rate and not as heavy per foot.

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I own a smart troll system and there is no way that the probes are causing enough resistance to bring your lines up 5-10'. They are tiny and made of carbon fiber so incredibly light. Here is a link to the website, they are a 1/2 inch diameter and less than 4 inches long. There is a picture on the link I pasted below showing the probe next to a dime. If you think these probes cause that much resistance, what would a 13" paddle, that weighs five times as much do?

http://smarttroll.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=5

You are correct. With all of this heavy line and so much of it out, we believe the influence on running depth is inches or less.

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i gotta believe a huge difference..considering .5 mph is a fairly large percentage of your overall speed..perhaps i was doing a tenth of a mph slower than 2.5 and thats why my 300 hit bottom..soooo many variables

There is a huge difference Don. We did some quick tests at 2.0 with 60lb 500' copper and got 145'. 2.5 gps with the same length of copper was 109.

Here is a link for a visual representation of the dive chart along with some reel fill calculation data. We will be doing this at 2.0 this weekend and will have a similar curve chart to view.

http://www.bloodruntackle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/CopperDiveChart.pdf

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Absolutely love the fact that all the guys saying using 32lb was useless are now eating crow:lol::thumb:

Must have missed those conversations, with all of the different methods to present lures they are only as successfull or useless as the person applying the presentations. If you run a surface program when the fish are 60 feet down you probaly wont catch many fish maybe crows:thumb:

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im not disputing numbers here...all i know is when my 300 pulls back in 65 ft and i pull it in with zebra mussels i gotta believe it hit bottom...and i wasnt turning or running a plug..

Well, it's amazing how far those zebra mussels will come up to hit a lure. Ha! I think this is just a starting point and that as more people start gathering data we're going to learn a lot.

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I ran my system for the first time last weekend and only for an hour because I had limited time on the water, but it seemed to be accurate. I only ran mine off my downrigger because I wanted to play with it at different depths, etc. It would always be within a few feet of the amount of line out on my downrigger counter. The most it was off was about 10 feet when I had 125' of downrigger cable out. It would be interesting to attach it to copper or core and drive east until it picked up bottom and note the depth on the graph and the smart troll when that happens. Then, take the probe off and repeat to see if you pick up bottom in the same depth. This would answer two questions: (1) if the probe is providing accurate readings; and (2) how much the probe is causing the line to rise. If I have time this weekend, I might give it a try.

Man, I'm glad you're willing to snag bottom with a $150 probe on your line! That would be an interesting test.

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Well, it's amazing how far those zebra mussels will come up to hit a lure. Ha! I think this is just a starting point and that as more people start gathering data we're going to learn a lot.

So when someone comes out with data that completely goes against what people have thought for years(wether I dispute it or not) you think it's the greatest thing in the world. But when a guys says he hits bottom in 65 ft with a setup many ( including myself) figure as a 75 ft setup it's laughable to you. Interesting

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