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Spooning for Fall Salmon

By Timothy Kusherets, 🕔Mon, Mar 21st, 2011


When does good fishing pick up for the fall run? In many places fishing really picks up during the months of late August to the beginning of September and literally lasts until the end of December, so the fall run really encompasses a big portion of the year, and most of those months begin with fishing tributaries of rivers and lakes where they meet at the mouth. The best way to hook into fall running fish, in any tributary, is to spoon fish for them. Spoons offer a straight forward approach that get the offering right in front of the faces of the fish with the flutter and falling motion that does not spook them. Migrating salmon, in any tributary, that pours into a lake, will stay very near the surface, often times no deeper than a foot or two and can often be seen without the use of polarized glasses. The necessary components to spooning for fall salmon are color, bite area, swivels, size of spoons to match the pound test of fishing line, fishing with light line, thumbing the spool, and the length of the rod. The first element to successful fishing for the fall run is color.

When fishing with spoons color becomes important to each species, but not all colors appeal to each species of fish. The best color to use for Pinks, ironically enough, is pink. The best color for Coho is chartreuse and red. Atlantics and Chinook seem to like the color green. While color is important when considering spoons there are other variables to consider such as the hook size, bite area and position of the hook, the shape of the spoon, the size of the spoon, and the pound test of fishing line.

Often, fishermen don´t take the time to think about the bite area of hooks especially when spoons are involved. Let´s assume that the size of the hook is 2/0 (on the extreme heavy side) and the weight of the spoon is  ¼ ounce. The hook on the spoon should be placed to the inside of the blade to maximize the exposure of the tine and point. With the "convex" portion of the spoon away from the tine the attention of fish is streamlined for the strike thus ensuring that any fish that take a swipe at the spoon will also hit the hook even though it has a large profile. The hook should never extend more than twice the width of the edge of the spoon, along the hump; that is, holding the spoon with the edge of the blade facing you, if the hump on the (convex) edge of the blade is more than two times smaller than the hook from the tine to the shank, then the hook is too big. If the convex width of the spoon is two times larger, then the hook is too small. When matching the size, width, and bite area of a spoon and hook make sure to pay attention to the swivel you´ll need to attach to it.

A snap swivel keeps the line from twisting up and tangling. In the end, if tangling is not addressed than line-abrasion can form weakening the fishing line causing them to snap under strain. The largest swivel anglers should use when fishing with spoons and light line is a size 10 swivel; it´s just big enough to get the job done without interfering with the fluttering capabilities of a spoon that weighs a much as a quarter ounce. After matching the hook, spoon, and swivel anglers need to match the fishing line to the size of the spoon.

The size of the spoon should match the pound-test of the line so casting distance is not sacrificed. Salmon and steelhead that meander around the tributary are not easily spooked; however, they can be put off the bite by the mere site of fishermen so casting from a distance becomes critical. The size of the line can be extremely light when fishing at the mouth of a river due to the abundance of fish and the room to play them out, and when I say light brother I mean light.

The pound-test of fishing line in a tributary of a lake can be light because there is a distinct advantage over fishing in a river. Salmon, in a lake, have room to run and you have the room to let them, so light line becomes an option where it doesn´t in a river. The great thing about using light line is the ability to cast far from your position. As salmon hold near the mouths of rivers the only critical thing that will put them off the bite are fishermen, to counter that kind of pressure you must be able to cast from a distance, those fishermen who would object to the idea of distance casting should consider that each inlet, where depth is greater, becomes shallower the closer you get to the mouth of a river. The size of each line-test is done on the basis of each species, that is, the larger the fish the larger the test. Pink salmon require no more than 6-pound test, Coho don´t need more than 8-pound test, Atlantic & Chinook don´t´ need any more than 10-pound test. Remember that light line means you have to play each fish out rather than "horsing" them in; you have to take your time but that doesn´t mean that it takes forever to fight a fish and land them. By "thumbing" the spool anglers can maximize the pressure against a fighting fish for the duration of the fight.

Thumbing is a relative term used to describe putting light pressure on the spool of a reel for added tension or drag. The application of thumbing can be done to spinning and bait-casting reels. With a spinning reel it actually means applying pressure with the palm of the hand that is used to reel. In the case of bait-casting reels it literally means to place your thumb on the spool of line and apply light pressure. Both forms of thumbing should be done for a few seconds at a time to ensure that the light line does not break under the typically tremendous pressure sure to be exerted by the thrashing salmon or steelhead. Anglers can learn the premise of matching gear to each other and learning how to thumb a spool in just a few seconds. The backbone to everything coming together could not be done without the proper rod and the proper length.

The minimum best length is 8.5 feet while the maximum is length is 10.5 feet. There are many fishermen that attest to the use of a fast-action tip, which is great when fishing for heavier fish when the line tends to be heavier as well, however, since we´re fishing with very light line the tip will have to flexible enough to allow for tension on the line without the threat of snapping it when the tip is stiffer. Noodle rods are the best way to go when spoon fishing for the fall run. It brings all the constituents together to marry nicely the theme of fishing with everything light for the purposes of casting distance when using light line, light lure (spoons), with a flexible rod.

All these applications work when fishing for the fall runs of any species of fish that migrate from tributaries of lakes to the mouths of rivers, and the ease of using spoons make it an ideal form of fishing because fishermen can cover far more territory in a shorter period of time than any other kind of fishing. Spooning for fall salmon with light tackle is an exciting way to fish but for me the best part is the ease of the strike. You won´t have to worry about feeling the take of any fish interested in your spoon; the second it takes the lure into its mouth an explosion of water will erupt signaling to you that the fight is on and that spoons are the way to go.

by Timothy Kusherets , (Author) Steelhead & Salmon Drift-Fishing Secrets- visit

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