Tangled Fishing Line: How To Eliminate Tangles While Trolling

I’m sure if you’ve ever done any trolling in your life you’ve experienced the dreaded line twist. It can cause your lure to perform incorrectly or worse yet, blow up your reel. In this post, I’m going to talk about how to fix a line twist on the go and how to stop it from happening in the first place.

When trolling, the best way to stop your fishing line from twisting is to use an SPRO or Sampo ball bearing swivel. These swivels will spin a lot better than some of the cheaper options on the market and will save you the headache. Your line will still twist and you’ll have to straighten things out at the end of the day but these will fight against the twist the best.

The majority of people go to the store and pick out the cheapest swivel they can find. That should work just fine if your lure doesn’t spin too much but it’s not going to do a thing if you’re using a spoon or swivel. Some swivels don’t spin nearly fast enough to catch up and that’s where the problems come into play. Pay up and get something of quality and you’ll spend more time fishing.

How To Fix Line Twist When Trolling

If you’re trolling using a lure that spins a lot (spinner, spoon, etc) then there’s really nothing you can do to eliminate it completely. That being said, there are things you can do to slow things down and a few things you should do at the end of your day.

What I’d recommend you do (and what I always do) is to let my line untwist at the end of my day. It really depends on how much line twist you have going on but it’s always a good thing to do at least once a day.

At the end of the day (or when I see my line twisting) I’ll cut off all my dodgers and lures and let out a bunch of line while the boat is moving. You can just let out the part that’s twisted or you can let out the entire spool.

This basically does two different things.

The first is that it’ll let the twisted line untwist and will prevent future issues. Even if you are using a swivel, you could still get some twist in the main part of your line. All you have to do is troll at a normal speed, let out a bunch of line with no hook, and then reel it back in. It’s super simple and will save you a lot of headaches.

The second thing it’ll do is make sure your line is spooled correctly. If your line has twists in it and you reel it in and let it sit, it could result in tangles and a bunch of stuff you don’t want.

Tips To Prevent Line Twist When Trolling

The absolute best thing you can do to prevent line twists is by using a high-quality ball bearing swivel from Sampo or SPRO (on Amazon). Make sure you’re using the smallest size you can get away with. You can then let your line untwist at the end of the day and that should get rid of most of the twist. You could still run into problems though and there are a few additional things you can do.

ball bearing swivel

The first thing you can do is use braided line instead of mono or fluoro. I started using this as my main fishing line and it did seem to help out a bit. I’ll then toss on a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader and be on my way. It won’t eliminate the twist but it does help out.

The second thing you’ll want to not do is reel in with your drag tightened. Especially on a spinning reel, this will cause you a lot of problems. It doesn’t need to be completely loose but just make sure your drag isn’t cranked tight.

The third thing you can do is use a conventional style reel instead of a spinning reel. Something like a baitcaster or trolling-specific reel should give you fewer problems. Your line will be coming onto the reel straight and that could reduce the amount of twist on your line.

How To Set Your Gear Up To Not Twist

I’m sure there are a bunch of setups that will work well for trolling but I’ll be talking about what I normally do myself. I’ve never had any major issues with this setup and I think it should work well for you.

I normally use a spinning or baitcasting/trolling reel when I’m trolling. I don’t really know if it’ll still work on a mooching or some other type of reel but I think most people use a spinning or conventional style anyway.

The first thing I’ll do is put some fluorocarbon or monofilament on my spool. I normally use braid as my main fishing line but I don’t like to put it on the spool because it can slip. Mono or fluoro dig in much better and that’s why I do it. You could just put a couple of wraps on the spool but I usually fill the first 1/4 of the spool.

I’ll then attach the braided line to the mono/fluoro backing using a Double Uni Knot. You could use whatever knot you want but I think this is the easiest and strongest knot to use. The video on how to do that is below. I’ll then fill up the rest of the spool with the braided line.

The next thing I’ll do is attach a sliding weight clip to the end of my braid (you don’t need this if you’re using a downrigger) and then attach my SPRO or Sampo ball bearing swivel. If you don’t need to use weight then you don’t need the weight clip. It’s important that you use a knot that’s designed for braided line. I like using the Palomar knot.

After that, I’ll take 3 feet of fluoro or mono and attach it to the other end of my swivel. I like using something a little bit heavier because it’ll prevent my line from breaking and losing my dodger/flasher.

The next step is to attach your favorite flasher. It’ll depend on what you’re fishing for but you’ll definitely want something that will catch the attention of the fish.

You can then take 2 feet of monofilament or fluorocarbon and attach it to the other end of your flasher. The type of line you use will depend on the fish you’re after. Mono for fish with soft mouths (kokanee and trout) and fluoro for fish like bass.

The final step is to attach whatever lure you want to fish with.

That’s the setup I normally use and have never had any major issues. The quality ball-bearing swivels should be able to handle most of the twists, the flashers shouldn’t spin too aggressively with the length they’re at, and you should be able to spend more time fishing and less time fixing.

Just be sure to unwind your line at the end of the day by taking off the weights, flashers, and lure, and let your line out behind the boat.

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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