How to Fish With Cowbells

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Trolling is a popular method of lake and river fishing for trout, smallmouth bass, perch and landlocked salmon. An angler trolls for fish using a series of attractors on a weighted core line. One of the most effective of the attractors series used is a line of “cowbells” (also called “lake trolls”). Not only are these shiny spoon-shaped discs visually appealing to fish, but they emit a vibration that catches the fish’s attention and lures them to the bait. Cowbells come in a variety of metallic colors and textures from nickel and brass to silver and rainbow.

Items you will need

  • Boat, canoe or kayak

  • Fishing rod

  • Fishing reel

  • Lure

  • Bait

  • Sinker

  • Cowbells

Step 1

Know the size of your quarry.
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Decide which line of cowbells you want to use. (There are four cowbells to a wire with rudder.) A wire of cowbells comes in “baby,” “standard,” and “giant” sizes. If you are fishing in a clear, shallow lake or pond where the fish don’t grow too large, choose the “baby” size. If you might catch 10- to 20-inch fish in a river or lake, use the “standard” size. If you might catch fish more than 20 inches, or are in murky water, select the “giant” size. Remember that big fish eat little fish, so you might not want smaller fish to be frightened off by your large cowbells.

Step 2

You may need to use heavier line than normal using a cowbell setup.
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Tie the cowbell wire to the fishing line, so that the first cowbell is closer to the pole and the rudder will be the first to go in the water. (Cowbells create drag, so you will probably want to use a more heavy-duty line than usual.) If you are going to be using a snubber for shock absorption, attach it next. After at least 20 inches of line, attach your lure and/or bait and sinker.

Step 3

Cowbells will serve as an attractant to your lures.
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Drop your line in the water and move your watercraft slowly forward at 1 to 2 knots. You will feel the drag and spin of the cowbells. Troll at varying speeds and in erratic curves. Try to imitate the swimming patterns of a school of fish with your cowbells. Optimal trolling is done over a lake depth of 15 to 50 feet.

Step 4

Land your lunker.
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Reel in after a hookup. You are going to have a bit of a tricky, more challenging, more fun fight with the added weight and movement of the cowbells.