Balloon Drifting Rig

I tried a new technique in balloon fishing this last time out ... I didn't elaborate on this on my picspage as I'd already made it a long story but here's how I did it ... there was a light breeze and I wasn't doing any good where I'd thrown out the floated 3way rigs as there wasn't any current at all. The reason I came up with this idea was because standard drifting won't work in this area as the water is only 2 to 4 ft deep and when the boat would go over the area it'd spook the fish away from the boat. This little fishing spot kind of requires current for scent distribution because the fish don't seem to move around much unless something makes them move towards a fresh bait and the way I accomplished catching the limit the last time I was out was by using two balloon rigs ... one blown up full size and no weight I'd deploy first using the trolling motor ... the wind was variable but mostly out of the west due to a hill that was north of me so what I did was set out the hook at about four foot below the balloon with no weight and then I used the trolling motor to go south to southeast with the spool disengaged and then just a little ways further I put out another rig with a 3oz weight and hook (Carolina Rig, the balloon was tied onto the mainline about a foot above the egg sinker with the leader being about 2 ft long from the swivel to the hook.) at 3 ft below the balloon that wasn't blown up as big as the first one I'd set out that is now probably 30 yds from the boat. Then I'd use the trolling motor to head on south and then east a little. The bigger balloon drifted faster keeping ahead of the slower weighted balloon and neither one went very far before they'd get a hit ... maybe 75 yds or so and then I'd do it in reverse heading north ... it took me about 2.5 hours to catch the first 13 fish like that. It also wasn't long before I went ahead and put a weight on the bigger balloon also because the slower drifting balloon got bit quicker than the faster one. The faster one I usually reeled in last because it wouldn't get bit until it was mostly downwind of the boat and it was moving slower when it'd get directly down wind. I think the baited hook was pretty close to the surface a lot of times because it was moving at a pretty good pace ... on about the third drift I went ahead and put a 2oz weight on a dropper loop below the balloon and then they both got hits within just a little while. After I'd caught those thirteen I spent a few hours messing with smallmouth buffalo and when I went back to catfishing there was current so I went ahead and used the floated 3way rigs to fish with and caught two more that way.

A person might think this is a lot of trouble but the worst part is probably just lifting the anchor rope each time ... I've got a minn kota autopilot/copilot which operates by remote control so it made it pretty easy to do everything and operate the trolling motor via the little trolling motor control that was in my pocket ... the autopilot keeps it going in one direction all the time ... because when you point it in a direction it stays on that direction automagically as you don't have to turn right and then back left to adjust like you do on normal trolling motors.

If a person wanted to they could throw out a Carolina rig with a balloon blown up about 3 to 4" out on the other side of the boat after it's anchored to make a third drift but the fish were biting fast enough that I really didn't have time to use three poles that night.

These photos show kind of how I dropped the balloons off and then anchored over on the southeast side of this particular area. The second photo would be kind of how I went on the second drift and then I'd go back up to about where I started the first drift after I'd gotten the first two sets reeled in. I was using 4/0 eagle claw kahle hooks. On the third drift is when I added the weight to the big balloon.


Controlled Drifting with little to no wind.

There are other drifting methods that I use to produce fish when it's dead calm out on the lake, and I'm needing to drift across an area where the fish are really scattered out using a controlled drifting method. I use planer boards and balloon rigs to cover as much water as possible on a drift. I did this several times with clients in the boat and there were a few days we didn't have enough wind to drift and I just used my minnkota autopilot/copilot, planer boards and balloon rigs and set my trolling motor on 4 and with the drift sock out this kept the boat straight also so it didn't swing back n forth. With the planer boards out I'd be covering over a 50 yd area with 6 to 8 rigs out. This really produces a lot of fish on those days just after fronts move in and the fish scatter out across an area. Using a 60" drift sock with the trolling motor on #4 speed the boat moves just fast enough to make the planer boards move out and away from the boat fairly well. Last time I did this we caught 22 fish between 6 and 12 lbs. Those large orange planer boards they have at bass pro work really good and they've got a line clip on them that you attach to your mainline and when you get a fish on and set the hook you want the planer board to release the mainline and slide down to your swivel. I just clip the mainline in the clip by folding the line in a loop and then just clip the planer board clip onto the mainline so that it's just holding about 1/8" or so and it'll release fairly easily like that. you'll want to use different rigs to see how the fish bite best ... sometimes a bottom drop rig with a 1oz sinker works best with the hook tied on about 2 ft above the sinker. I normally use a 50 lb test leader tied onto a swivel then to the mainline so that when the planer board releases it'll drop down to the swivel after it releases when you're fighting the fish. The 50 lb test is stiff enough that it'll hold the baited hook out away from the drop so that the fish can get it easily ... if you use too limp of a leader it'll be hard for them to grab the bait and run. Another rig I use is a carolina rig with about a 2 ft leader and hook and a small crappie float about mid way on the leader ... sometimes this is the best rig to use. try all sorts of different rigs when you first start doing a controlled drift such as this and you'll see that sometimes they won't hit the carolina rig with the float and other times they won't hit the bottom drop rig as well as the carolina rig. I've also incorporated the use of crankbaits with this method of drifting by rigging up the carolina rig and instead of a hook on the end I'll put a floating crankbait on a 1 ft leader and tip the front treble with a very small strip of shad fillet ... white colored or shad colored crankbaits seem to work best. I also put a lot larger hooks on the crankbaits for this method. It's a deadly rig using the crankbaits like that. Shad colored medium dive Bombers and my favorite is a solid white 1.5 inch fat crank that I don't remember the name of and it's the best one I've tried. It produces a lot of wobble and rattle so it attracts their attention somewhat better than just a baited hook.