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Frequently Asked Questions
1. Dredge Weight:How much weight do I need for my Dredge and from what position should I pull it?
2. Dredge Baits: Do the paddle tails have to be notched?
3. Dredge Rigging:Is it better to rig a Dredge with all Natural or Artificial baits?
4. Dredge Teaser Tip:
5. Wind-ons: How do I make my own wind-on leaders?
6. Cable Wind-on Leaders: Why and when would you use Cable Wind-on Leaders?

1. Dredge Weight:How much weight do I need for my Dredge and from what position should I pull it?
There is no hard and fast rule in regards to weight, but there are a few things to take into consideration when deciding.

For example, the amount of weight needed for a Dredge Teaser depends on several factors.
  • How large is the dredge and what is it rigged with?
  • At what speed will it be trolled and from what position?
  • And finally, where do you want to position the dredge in the spread?

    First of all the most important thing to remember about a dredge teaser is that it’s designed to be trolled below the surface of the water. It must not have any part of it above the surface or it will just not be effective as it will look to erratic and unnatural. What it is supposed to look like is a school of baitfish.

    Another important reason to have plenty of weight is so you can get the dredge below the surface and keep it as close to the boat as possible. As with any teaser, it must be clearly seen at all times. There is no sense having a teaser positioned so far back or under the surface that you are unable to see something when it comes up on it. This is very important and a big mistake that a lot of crews make.

    It’s not important how deep a dredge is as long as it’s below the surface and can be easily seen at all times.

    With the above in mind you now have to factor in how fast you will be trolling and what the dredge is rigged with. It’s fair to say that the heavier the baits on the dredge the less weight needed. For instance, a dredge rigged with natural split-tail mullet, each with a 2oz egg sinker, will not need as much weight as one rigged with all Ballyhoo.

    The speed you will be trolling is another big factor to consider. Regardless of how the dredge is rigged, if you’re slow trolling for Sails at around 4 knots not much weight is needed. On the other hand if you’re moving along at 6 knots plus, you’re going to have to put some extra lead ahead of the dredge to keep it where it should be. Some crews are using upwards of 96 ounces.

    Trolled from the outrigger or from a stern cleat is another thing to consider. Most of the larger dredges with a lot of weight are connected to a stern cleat, simply because most riggers and teaser reels can take the tremendous amount of drag these large umbrellas create. From the outriggers you will see mostly smaller arrangements with little weight.

    The heaviest of dredges are pulled from a stern cleat, especially when at the higher speeds. Using a heavy towline you can put just about any size weight that’s needed. Keep in mind that fished from this position you are going to have to hand-line the dredge whenever it has to be let in or out. Using light mono or the like can cause some serious damage to the hands if not careful.

    Too light of weight and the dredge will have to be too far back in the spread in order to get it down, if you can get it down at all. Too much weight and the dredge will dive too soon and again it will be so far below the surface you can’t see it. A dredge will be effective where ever it’s positioned, but if it’s too far back or down too deep that you can’t see it you don’t know when to react.

    Trolling weights come in a wide variety of sizes and since I have pointed out so many variables to consider it’s going to take some trial and error. It won’t take long to find out what works well for you’re individual style of fishing.
    2. Dredge Baits: Do the paddle tails have to be notched?
    Artificial baits with paddle tails will, in most cases, produce more action than the real thing. Even natural split-tail mullets do not have the action of these baits. That paddle tail just whips back and forth and from side to side causing the most action you can get from artificial bait. But this action causes a lot of stress on the body of the bait and at the higher speeds will eventually break off the tail. The paddle tail can cause so much drag that in some cases, depending on how it's connected to the dredge, it will pull the entire bait from the dredge. This is when some adjustment is required.

    Without sacrificing any action you can simply notch the tail of the bait and remove a lot of the stress and your baits will last much longer. As mentioned above this adjustment is only needed when trolling at the higher speeds. If you will be slow trolling, around 4 knots for Sails etc., the tails do not have to be notched. When you start to approach 4 1/2kts. + you really should notch the tails. Even at the slower speeds it wouldn't hurt to notch the tails.

    Notching the tails is nothing complicated. All you need is a pair of mono cutters or standard scissors. Even a razor blade will do. From the centerline of the paddle tail and just below the tailfin just make a v-notch at about a 45-degree angle. It's that simple.
    3. Dredge Rigging:Is it better to rig a Dredge with all Natural or Artificial baits?
    If you have money and time to burn then rigging with all naturals is the way to go. Certain crews who compete in major tournaments, and are not spending their own money, will only use naturals. Most of these pros are rigging split-tail mullets. In some cases each Dredge teaser will require up to 30 baits and a lot of boats are dragging 2 of these monsters. I know of one boat that will go thru 6 cases of mullet per tournament.

    In my opinion rigging with ALL naturals is a waste of both the money and time. I might have mentioned this in another section, but any artificial rubber bait with a "paddle tail" will produce more action than any natural bait. So with that in mind the only good reason you might want to add some real dead baits to a dredge would be to add the scent. More and more crews are rigging their dredges with this mix and it's working just great.

    If you are going to start to rig dredges with both there is one thing you might want to keep in mind. Where to position the different baits. Most fish that are going to come up on a dredge will go for the trailing baits or the ones the furthest back. With that being the case the best location for the natural baits is at the tail end of the dredge.

    There is no hard and fast rule as to how many of each should be rigged on a dredge. This is up to the individual. But it does not take a whole lot of baits to add scent. For example, if the dredge you are rigging is going to take 16 baits, then adding 4 naturals would be plenty.

    4. Dredge Teaser Tip:
    NOTE: There are two big mistakes made by most when using a dredge teaser. First you must rig it with enough weight to get it down under the surface to keep it as close to the boat as you can. If you don't have enough weight you have to position it much further back to get it under the surface and in most cases you can't see it anymore. There is no sense in having a teaser you can't see when a fish comes up on it. Secondly when a fish does come up on the dredge LEAVE IT ALONE. This is not like a Squid Daisy Chain teaser or the like and can't be reeled out of the way with the same ease. Leave the dredge alone and in position. Drop a rigged bait back to it or reel a rigged bait up to it. The fish on the dredge WILL leave and go to the other offering.

    5. Wind-ons: How do I make my own wind-on leaders?
    Please refer to the following articles/tips when constructing wind-on leaders:
    Anatomy of a Wind-On
    Constructing the Double-Splice Wind-On
    Wind-On Reference Tables
    Winning with Wind-On Leaders
    6. Cable Wind-on Leaders: Why and when would you use Cable Wind-on Leaders?
    Abrasion resistance and weight are the two qualities that cable has over all other lines and leaders. Mono, Fluoro Carbon, Dacron or Spectra cannot compare to either. With that said there are only two reasons why you would use a Cable Wind-on. Many times when fishing we have all experienced cut-offs. Obviously cable would have helped prevent this situation. Kingfish, Wahoo and Sharks are just a few that will cut your line. (I’ll finish this later)
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