When Is Strolling Trolling?

Jeremy Starks used a fishing method called “strolling” or “long-lining” to win the Douglas Lake Elite last weekend. This is where you basically cast out your bait, then get on the small motor and move away from the bait until most or all of the line is off the reel, then begin your retrieve.

This is how described it:

Starks employed the long-line (also called strolling) technique to drive his crankbait into the strike zone for a longer period of time than is possible with a traditional cast-and-retrieve technique. After a very long cast, he kept the reel in free-spool while moving the boat to force the crankbait deeper. When most of the line was played out – or a bass took the bait – the spool was engaged and the reeling-in began.

That bolded part is what I’m wondering about. Isn’t that trolling?

Unless the wording has changed, here’s the applicable part of the Elite Series rules:

An electric trolling motor may be used for slow maneuvering. However, trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited.

Trolling isn’t defined because it’s assumed we all know what it is. I’m defining trolling as moving the boat when your bait is in the water without cranking the reel handle. And – I guess to distinguish strolling from trolling – with the bait moving?

So if you’re moving the boat and the bait is moving and a fish hits it, that’s trolling. But if the bait is stationary and a fish hits it, that’s trolling – right?

But can a bait truly be stationary?

Let me know if I’m missing something here….



  1. Chad Keogh

    May 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I fished an FLW event as a co-angler a few years back and I called them to ask if dragging/strolling was permitted. They said that after the cast, you must be reeling, however slowly. Dragging tubes for smallies is a killer technique, but not permitted.

  2. Scotty Melvin

    May 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I think it’s all semantics. Unfortunately , fishing is not like other sports, that have lines where you are either in or out. There are just some things that are grey. This is one. Hard to be completely still all the time. As long as they don’t have rod holders, and kick back and wait for the bite like they’re trolling for muskies, I’m ok with it. What about guys who have rods with lures hanging over the boat in the water?


    May 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Since Jeremy wasn’t disqualified, obviously he didn’t break any rules! Not sure why this is even being discussed!

    • admin (mostly Jay)

      May 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      No one said he or anyone did, not sure why you are implying it. Look at it in the abstract

      • Gman

        May 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

        Why look at it at all. Why bring something up that doesn’t matter unless someone states its a problem. Its like we are looking to bring down the sport cause we need something to talk about. Look Jeremy won, BASS didn’t have a problem lets move on. Don’t look for something to discuss that does not matter. Abstract or not.

        • admin (mostly Jay)

          May 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm

          Because it’s interesting. And if things didn’t matter beyond the existing rules, we’d never have the rules we have now – and we’d still be an English colony. And not asking questions can be dangerous. And only in bass fishing would someone say “bring down the sport” about asking a legit question. And this is my blog. I could keep going but will stop there…and thanks for asking the question!

        • RichZ

          May 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

          Because as it was mis-described in the official bass news release, it would have, or should have been illegal.

          • admin (mostly Jay)

            May 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm

            And because as everyone who reads the daily BassBlaster knows (sign up at the top right of this page or at, fellow Elite competitor Kevin Short said, and I quote, “strolling, which I’ve heard Tournament Director Trip Weldon say on more than one occasion is the same as trolling….” Here’s the link to Kevin’s post:

        • Flip'N'Pitch

          May 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm

          Are you serious or are you 12 years old?!?! Have you ever heard of something called E-S-P-N? Maybe even sports talk radio? How many thousands of hours of airtime did the NFL Draft receive months before it even occurred? How many hours do people spend on their “Fantasy Teams”? Does any of that matter to you? Did it matter when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? 😉 The fact that we have forum to discuss such things and are regularly doing so is evidence that the sport and its integrity are alive and well. Just like we did when Ish Monroe said he pokes bedding bass with his 8 foot pole when they aren’t cooperating with him. If we weren’t talking about it then we all should worry that the sport is on its way down. No one is calling Starks a “lyin’ cheat” or attacking him personally.

  4. Flip'N'Pitch

    May 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Well, tournament fishing can be a bit like NASCAR sometimes in that innovation pushes the limits of the rules. “Trolling” to me implies constant steady motion of your boat (and thus the bait) derived by artificial means. So what if you want to drift naturally with the current while your bait stays in the water? What if a Co-Angler wants to drag C-Rig behind the boat while his Boater has the trolling motor on high? By the FLW ruling, if they really meant that the reel handle must be cranked continuously once the bait hits the water, then C-rigging, Drop Shotting, Float and Fly, and other “do nothing” techniques would be illegal?!?!

  5. RichZ

    May 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    When I read the news release, my initial reaction was the writer had no idea what he was talking about, and simply misinterpreted how it was explained to him. If they had been fishing the way he described, they would have had to have been disqualified.

    • admin (mostly Jay)

      May 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Good observation

    • Flip'N'Pitch

      May 10, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Also like Scotty said above I think “trolling” implies a sense of lure retrieval laissez-faire (yes, that just happened on a bass fishing blog!;) which not only the ruling bodies but also the anglers themselves seem to draw the line at. The Alabama Rig ban is a perfect example. If you recall most Pro Angler criticisms of the rig they took particular exception with the thought of effectively little to no action or skill being required of the angler in its retrieve in order to hammer monster fish after monster fish. In contrast, “strolling” sounds like a heck of a lot of work and skill go into it just to pull it off on the rare occasions when it would work better than all of the other techniques. Plus, apparently it’s not a new revolutionary technique that even “people in the know” have never heard of. I consider myself to be an absolute bass fishing geek and it’s a new one on me! I’m wondering why he didn’t just try a drop shot or a spoon instead. Maybe he would have saved himself that migraine! 😉

  6. Jeremy

    May 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Are you implying Deb Johnson does not fish?

    • Bass Pundit

      May 10, 2012 at 4:33 am

      it’s an obscure technique, easily she could have been unfamiliar with how it all worked.

  7. RichZ

    May 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Funny thing is, I recall a tourney coverage article in Bassmaster from back in the late 70s or thereabouts, that credited ‘strolling’ and it was an entirely different technique, involving big worms behind 2 or 3 one ounce slip sinkers being dragged by the boat. In practice, the guys doing it actually used the trolling motor and some even used two rods apiece, but once the tourney started, they had to wind drift with one rod.

    In reference to Chad’s comment above, if FLW says drifting a tube is against their rules, then I’d hazard a guess that about half the money they’ve paid out on Erie and Ontario over the last however many years was paid to guys breaking their rule.

    • Chad Keogh

      May 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      By their description of the rule, you can’t cast out a tube and just let the wind or trolling motor solely move the bait, you have to be reeling HOWEVER slowly. Anyone who targets smallies in the winter months knows how slow you can reel when you put your mind to it.


  8. MattBass

    May 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    A rose by any other name…

  9. paul zuest

    May 11, 2012 at 12:19 am

    if you say you dont troll and you bass fish i dont believe you.

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The best, worst and funniest in bassin'! Jay Kumar is the guy who created, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a whole lot more in bassin™. Make sure you sign up for the BassBlaster email!

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