Captain Steve Leary
USCG LICENSED

[email protected]

Phone: 774-238-1011
Fishing Cape Cod Bay & Cape Cod Beaches

Fishing Wire Line

There is no doubt each time I engage folks in conversation related to fishing with wire line, I brace myself for the standard onslaught of old or newer more “colorful” expletives related to using that “x*&%#>@” crap!

Sure, I’ll admit wire is not very forgiving if not handled properly. Wire can create some incredible birds nests, and then there is wire's ever present desire to kink, and wire's memory coils. However, wire does bring with it a set of advantages and flexibility that other lines do not! In this post I would like to share with you the most important lessons I have learned in my time spent wire line fishing on Cape Cod.

Key Variables: How Much Wire Is In The Water &
How Deep The Lures Are Running


In this recent post I relayed the benefits of keeping a log and tracking variables that effect your catch. How much wire line is in the water and how deep your lures are running are two critical variables that directly impact your ability to catch big stripers.

How much wire is in the water?

My reels are set up with either 300’ or 400’ of 60lb wire which gives me the ability to effectively fish in 15’ to over 80’ of water.

Aboard Wingman our setups have hi-vis dacron splices (orange, yellow or pink) at 150’, 300’, 350’ and 400’ to indicate how much line is out.

The splices are made with simple haywire twists on the wire and Albright knots to attach the dacron.

Spooling up my wire in this fashion helps make it easy for me to track how much line I have in the water, and how deep I am fishing my lures.

On another note, it's always fun to inform a charter customer (whose arms are burning while cranking in a big bass) that they only have another 150’ or 300’ feet to go, as those splices appear on the surface.

How deep the lures are running?

Typical rule of thumb is 10’ of lure depth per hundred feet of line deployed. Depth is also affected by boat speed, lure weight and type.

When I first began using wire, I’d find areas at various depths with a sandy bottom and do test trolls with varying line depth, lures and boat speed.

With each lure type, I’d vary line depth and boat speed (anywhere between 2-7 knots, which are typical wire line trolling speeds) until I felt the lure touch bottom. 


Although time consuming, this method provided me with a valuable baseline I still use aboard Wingman every day.

How It Can Pay To Be Flexible?

 In your approach using wire line gives you flexibility that other lines do not.

As shown below, there are many lure types you can use with wire to match the bait the bass are feeding on.

Any of the above lures fished on wire will easily get down deep where the bigger bass like to hang out, especially during the summer.

A productive tactic we use aboard Wingman is to “go hunting” in the areas the bass have been frequenting. When hunting, we typically run 2-3 flatlines with various colored hoochies at 6-7 knots.

This enables us to cover a lot of sea surface and locate fish via the sounder and or hookups. Should we come upon a “pile” of fish not interested in the hoochies (which is rare) we’ll next try approaching them from various directions.

Should that not work, the hoochies setups are stowed and we switch to other wire setups with bottom jigs. As we approach the waypoints where the fish are sitting, I drop the boat speed down, the jigs are deployed, and bounced along the bottom.

Typically, it only takes a few tugs on the rod before hookups occur.


Wire Line Trolling

Tackle & Equipment

On my boat I use Diawa 400H reels when trolling wire. Penn 113H and Shimano TLD 20s work great as well. I have TLD 20s on my rods with Spectra line and really like the lever drag configuration.

My 6’8”wire rods are custom made by Dan Hannon from Salt Shaker Sportfishing here on the Cape. There are many great over the counter rods available.

The Team at Goose Hummock in Orleans will be able to set you up with excellent rod/reel combos for wire.

In Conclusion

Fishing with wire line takes some extra work and attention. However it's been my experience the benefits of wire far outweigh the added work when it comes to putting big bass on the deck.

Despite wire line's bad rep, when I ask my customers what it is they’d most like to learn, often the response is an enthusiastic “how to fish with wire!"

I hope this post has helped you better understand this very effective method for catching striped bass, especially during the summertime on Cape Cod.