A length of fishing line between the downrigger release and the lure is known as the "lead". This varies in length depend on how far behind the boat the fisherman would like to lure to the trail. This fishing line is typically between ten and twenty-pound test. When fishing for salmon this lead is often quite lengthy in order to avoid the fish being frightened by the noise of the boat's trolling motor. When many boats are trolling in a small area, this often results in crossed lines and tangles that are a detriment to the fishing experience.
The speed at which the lure is pulled through the water has a significant impact on success or failure. For this reason, fishermen use devices that accurately track speed. Typically, trolling from one to five knots is the range that allows for fish to be caught. Such fishing varies from specie to specie as Chinook Salmon may prefer higher speeds while a more docile Lake Trout may prefer a much slower-moving lure. Trolling motors are used to calibrate this speed more accurately than large outboard motors. Trolling plates may be used with larger motors to slow the boat to the desired speed, although some anglers experience mixed results using plates.