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Lead-core Lake Trout

Lake Trout in Ontario can be found in Lake Ontario, Huron, Superior and across the deep, cold lakes of the Canadian Shield. Lake trout are most accessible to kayak anglers immediately after season opener, which in Eastern Ontario falls at the end of May. Since these fish mainly hang out in water that is 50ºF, Lakers can be easily be found suspended in the 30-40ft range during late spring.

With so many Lake Trout waters throughout the province, you’d think this species would be targeted more often by kayak anglers. The truth is, many anglers may be missing out on a species that put up a great fight on beautiful lakes! When your favourite crankbait is presented to these fish consistently throughout their strike zone, schools of hungry Lake trout will easily take the bait.

Trolling lead-core line is the best way to reach these deeper species from a kayak. In fact, on a recent outing to Big Rideau Lake, I landed eight of these jewels in an eight- hour period. As the word ‘trolling’ suggests, there is a lot of paddling involved. For this reason, I prefer calm mornings. First light tends to be the calmest, and coincides with a typical feeding window.

lead core lake trout


An angler should start out with a single level-wind reel and with a spool capacity large enough to hold 90 to 100 yards of the fairly bulky line. Add to that an eight to 10 foot long, medium-soft-action trolling rod, and you’re in business. It’s very important not to use a rod that’s too stiff. Leadcore line doesn’t stretch, so you need a long, soft stick to act like a shock absorber. This will soak up the head shakes from large Lake Trout, allowing you to fight the fish carefully without the hooks wearing holes in their mouths and popping free at the side of the kayak. A rod holder is an absolute must for this technique!

A good fish-finder with GPS is very beneficial for adding waypoints. As soon as I catch one of these heavy-hitters, I’ll mark the location. Often times the best bites will be close to waypoints you’ve already added. I personally use a Raymarine Element which has crystal clear down imaging and sonar capabilities as well.

Lake trout can reach weights into the teens, so a good sturdy net is essential!

lead core lake trout


Lead-core line changes colour every ten yards. My general rule of thumb is each colour I let out dives the lure 6 feet. Of course there’s many factors involved, but I try to keep my technique consistent. I paddle at 2MPH, and I use the exact same Storm ‘Thin Fin 8’ lure. I use this shallow diving crankbait exclusively when trolling for both Lake Trout and Walleye. It is my absolute go-to confidence lure!
For example, if I’m marking Lakers at 35 feet, I’ll slowly let out six colours. It’s important to let the line out slowly, because lead-core has a tendency to over-spool, tangle and make a mess.

Depending on the depth dive of your chosen lure, experiment with the length of your line. Once you get a bite, maintain this depth consistently as schools of fish should be feeding in this zone during the bite window.

lead core lake trout

LEADER and LINE for Lake Trout

Lead-core line is simply a lead core inside a dacron sheath. The lead allows the line to sink, and the sheath is coloured so that the angler knows how much line they are trolling behind the kayak. For line I prefer Suffix 832 Advanced leadcore in 18 pound test. I’ve experimented with many types and sizes of leaders. In my opinion, an eight foot length of 20 pound mono-filament works best in the lakes I fish. Mono-filament fishing line allows for a bit of stretch, which translates to better hook-ups when these lake jewels hit your lure like a lightning bolt. I use a swivel between the lead-core and mono.

The huge advantage of using leadcore in a kayak is that the lure is constantly rising and diving slightly with each paddle stroke and pause. I’ve found this technique extremely effective for keeping my lure in the strike zone consistently.

Final thoughts

If you’ve yet to catch a lake trout while kayak fishing with lead-core, I highly suggest adding this to your species ‘bucket list’! The feeling of peace and tranquility quickly changes to a heart-pounding rush when your line gets hit and the kayak comes to a stop. Fish ON! Enjoy the moment, its likely to be a memorable one!

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