Trolling with spoons is a technique practiced
and enjoyed everyday by thousands of fresh water anglers
across the country. It's an easy-to-learn and use method
which is particularly effective in lakes and reservoirs
for large fish such as coho and Chinook salmon, brown,
cutthroat and lake trout, striped bass and several varieties
of rainbow trout including landlocked steelhead and
Spoons are effective because they closely resemble
and imitate the action of crippled baitfish . . . food
which makes up a large part of the diet of predatory
Anglers who employ trolling as their #1 technique and
understand fish and their habits usually will outfish
anglers using other techniques. The reason is simple:
You cover a large area of water thoroughly in a short
time, pinpointing concentrations of fish or scattered
lunkers with minimum effort. Trolling allows you to
cover more water faster, easier and more completely
than any other fishing technique.
|A spoon should wobble from
side-to-side and will produce its best all-around, fish-catching
action when trolled at speeds between the slowest that
produces a wobble and the fastest darting action that
does not cause the lure to revolve or spin. For fast trolling
try the Tom Mack®. Medium speed trolling spoons include
the Diamond King and Rattlesnake. For general trolling
at all speeds, the Flutter Spoon, Krocodile®, Loco®, Super
Duper® and Alpena Diamond are excellent choices.
The best trolling spoons are lightweight and thin which will
provide the most erratic, darting baitfish action in the water.
Many spoons such as the Krocodile® and Super Duper® are manufactured
in casting and trolling models and it is important that you
select the lightest weight models. For example, one die may
stamp several different thicknesses of a spoon, such as the
No. 5 Krocodile®, which produces 3/4-, 1-, 1 1/2- and 2 1/2-oz.
models. For trolling, you would choose the lighter 3/4- or
SPOON TROLLING RIGS
Diagrammed below are seven proven ways to rig a spoon for
trolling. Note that dodgers often are used as attractors in
conjunction with spoons when fish are scattered or are in
With the surface or flatline technique, the spoon is tied
directly, via its attachment device, to 8- to 20-lb. test
main line. No additional weights are used or, at most, a small
1/8- to 1/2-oz. keel-type sinker may be placed 6 feet up the
line from the spoon. The spoon is let out behind your moving
boat 50 to 200 feet and the troll begun. This technique is
particularly effective when trout, steelhead, stripers or
salmon are feeding near the surface, especially during low
SHALLOW TO MEDIUM
With the addition of a keel sinker 4 to 6 feet up the line
from the spoon, shallow to medium depths can be trolled effectively.
Sinker weights, depending upon the depth desired, usually
run from 1 to 8 ounces with main line testing from 12 to 30
pounds. As in flatlining, let out 50 to 200 feet of line behind
your moving boat and begin the troll.
One effective way to get a spoon or spoon/attractor rig deep
without lead weights is with a diving sinker such as the Pink
Lady®, Deep Six®, Dipsy Diver® or Jet Diver. The Dipsy Diver®
is particularly unique diving sinker as the lead weight in
its base plate can be shifted in degrees to produce starboard,
port or behind the boat running. With the Dipsy® you now can
troll off to either side of the boat without interfering with
flatlines or downrigger lines and cover an extremely wide
swath of water. Divers also act as fish attractors due to
their color and shape. Standard rigging with a diver is 4
to 6 feet of leader between spoon and diver and 20- to 30-lb.
test main line to your rod. A second way of rigging a diver
adds a #0, #040 or #00 small Jensen Dodger 24 inches up the
leader from the spoon. Use 48" of leader between the dodger
Spoons often are fished off a downrigger, either by themselves
or in conjunction with a dodger or flasher. With a downrigger
you will be able to work all depths and will have the added
advantage of no weights between you and the fish once hooked.
Anglers who troll spoons by themselves behind a downrigger,
especially when seeking wary fish such as Chinook, lake trout
or browns, often prefer 10 to 29 feet (some as much as 40
to 60 feet) between the line release and spoon.
Dodgers can be used as attractors in conjunction with a spoon
behind a downrigger with good results. Size #0 or #1 Jensen
Dodgers are recommended. Allow 12 to 18 inches of leader between
spoon and dodger. Shorter leaders produce more frantic and
faster spoon action while longer one result in slower action.
Flashers are yet another kind of attractor that can be used
with a spoon behind a downrigger. Flashers such as the Alaskan
Eagle or Abe 'n Al® produce a deliberate, slow roll which
often is favored by species such as Chinook and lake trout.
Because of the rotating nature of the flasher, spoons trailed
behind must have more leader than that used with dodgers.
Certain fish species, particularly when it comes to larger
fish, display specific preferences when it comes to trolling
spoons and/or colors. The following species-by-species breakdown
will provide valuable information you can apply immediately.
When the temperature is right in fresh water, coho salmon
are surface or shallow water oriented and can be found, for
the most part, at depths less than 50 feet. Coho especially
like fast action spoons and the added action of small #0,
#00 or #040 dodgers ahead of a spoon (see rigging diagram).
Specific spoons geared for coho fishing include the Loco®,
Rattlesnake, Coyote, Krocodile®, Flutter Spoon and Super Duper.
When compared with coho, fresh water Chinook prefer deeper
water. They often shy away from unnatural movements in the
water so longer leaders often are used. Proven Chinook spoons
include the Loco®, Tom Mack®, Alpena Diamond, Diamond King
and Point Defiance®. These spoons all have a deliberate, wobbling
side-to-side action when trolled at medium to fast speeds.
Because Chinook often are found deep, blue or green painted
finishes are effective, as are blue or green Prism-Lite® finishes
and metallic patterns with blue or green stripes. Silver or
pearl also are know Chinook color favorites.
Lake trout prefer slow, deliberate-action lures and/or attractors.
Popular spoons include the Krocodile®, Loco®, Alpena Diamond
and Slow-Sam with top colors being Genuine Silver Plate, Pearl,
Nickel/Blue Stripe, Chartreuse/Fire Dot, Glo Green and 50/50
Hammered Brass/Nickel. Lake trout generally lie close to the
bottom or in the lower level of the thermocline.
These fish are slow to react and very wary of any unnatural
movement or noise. They often are boat shy so let out more
line when trolling (100 to 300 feet). Their diet consists
primarily of small fish so spoons are a natural when it come
to fishing for them. Browns show a definite preference toward
natural fish-finish spoons such as Rainbow Trout and Brown
Trout. Other popular finishes include Brass/Gold Prism-Lite®,
Chartreuse/Silver Prism-Lite®, Brass/Fire Stripe and Brass
Bikini. Four excellent spoons to use are the Alpena Diamond,
Super Duper®, Krocodile® and Flutter Spoon.
These fish and their cousins, landlocked steelhead and Kamloops,
normally are fast-moving and are found scattered at different
depths in lakes and reservoirs. They will concentrate where
food and/or oxygen sources are located and frequently can
be found feeding near the surface during low light periods.
Metal finishes such as Chrome/blue, Chrome/Fire or Chrome/Green
in either hammered or plain and painted finishes such as Chartreuse/Fire
Dot, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Frog and Blue or Green often
produce strikes. Genuine Silver Plate is a finish which has
proved irresistible to rainbow, steelhead and Kamloops. Additionally,
the Prism-Lite® finishes of red, gold or green in combination
with Nickel or Brass and the Prism-Lite® painted finishes
are excellent choices. These fish strike at medium to fast
trolling speeds with spoons such as the Krocodile®, Loco®,
Canadian Wonder®, Super Duper® and Flutter Spoon solid bets
TEMPERATURE AND OXYGEN
In large fresh water lakes and reservoirs time of day isn't
nearly as critical as locating the preferred temperature level
for the fish species you are seeking and the thermocline.
Lakes stratify into three separate layers with the onset of
warm weather and generally stay that way until fall. The middle
layer of water, where there is a large concentration of dissolved
oxygen, baitfish and therefore predator fish is called the
thermocline and can generally be found from 10 to 80 feet
down. This is not only an oxygen-saturated layer, but a temperature
layer as well and fish relate to it as both a comfort zone
and a zone where their body metabolism functions efficiently.
The peak feeding and optimum temperature for coho and Chinook
salmon is 55° with an active range of 44° to 58°. For lake
trout, peak feeding and optimum temperature is 50° with activity
from 43° to 53°. For steelhead trout, optimum temperature
is between 50° and 55° with activity from 40° to 75°. Brown
and rainbow trout have an optimum temperature preference between
55° and 60° with activity from 44° to 75°. Striped bass exhibit
a range of temperature preference from 60° to 78° with the
optimum temperature between 70° and 72°.
Fish rarely venture out of these preferred temperature zones,
except to catch a meal and then will return quickly. One thing
to remember when fishing temperature layers such as the thermocline
is that it can change from day to day because of wind and/or
wave action and you'll have to locate it each time out.
SPECIALIZED FINISHES & COLORS
Fish definitely see color and/or shades of color and can
be very fussy about it. One of the big advantages of trolling
with spoons is the wide variety of specialized finishes available
. . . there's a color to fit every angling situation.
GENUINE SILVER PLATE
The ultimate in metal finishes, Genuine Silver Plate, is available
on the Flutter Spoon and Diamond King. This finish produces
a highly reflective shine not achievable with nickel or chrome
plating . . . it simply reflects a much higher percentage
of light, like a baitfish, under a variety of different light
conditions and at different depths.
The natural, iridescent look of baitfish scales has been captured
on the FlutterSpoon and Loco®. This finish has proved extremely
productive at all depths.
Both the Flutter Spoon and the Loco® are available in a Glo/Fluorescent
Green Stripe finish which is particularly effective in deep
"HOT TAIL" FINISHES
The Krocodile® and Diamond King now are available in special
Hot Tail finishes including Crystal/Hot Tail Pearl/Green/Chartreuse,
"Hot Tail Nickel/Fire, Hot Tail Brass/Fire, Crystal Hot Tail/Chartreuse/Fire,
Hot Tail Silver/Fire and Hot Tail Gold/Fire. These finishes
focus strikes to the rear of the lure, where open hooks ensure
more and better hook-ups.