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Tips and Tricks For Using Spoons

By Wayne Moss, 🕔Mon, Mar 21st, 2011


Spoons can be fished in many different ways and are a great way to catch fish. There are times when all a person needs to do is tie a spoon on the line, throw it in the water and wait for the inevitable bite. This of coarse is the case when the fish are plentiful and the bite is on. But what do we do, or should I say how do we deal with this, when the bite is off?

  1. Do we drive the boat back to the dock and have lunch?
  2. Do we go site seeing and watch whales?
  3. Or do we try something a bit different to see if we can entice another bite? 

Personally, I would pick number three.

My Father, who is a wealth of knowledge, has always said that when the bite is off, you should always be able to find a lure that will entice a fish to bite. This is especially true in regard to spoons and plugs. Color, size and speed are all a factor.

Now this brings some questions to mind:

"What makes a fish bite a bait or lure?"￾

Because it's hungry, of course! Just like humans, fish have regular eating habits too. Most humans feed on a regular schedule, yet fish have a variety of things that regulate their feeding times and habits. Tides, sun up, sun down, solunar activity periods, water temperature, as well as the time of their life cycle all regulate how and when a fish feeds.

"What about when a fish isn't hungry?"

When a fish isn´t hungry there are various things that can entice a bite. Again, just like humans, fish eat between meals, on a schedule. How many times have you eaten a cookie or something that looks so go you had to have it? Or when your friend is waving a French fry in your face and you grab it just because. Even if you throw that French fry away, you still grabbed it. "A bite was enticed just out of aggravation". This same thing can be done with fish, aggravate them, or spark their curiosity, they will bite.

Lets continue by talking about different techniques for using spoons. There are so many ways a spoon can be rigged to obtain different presentations. For example, there are an infinite amount of colors that a spoon can be painted. At times the color is a major factor in enticing a fish to bite. Be it matching its regular feed, such as a wounded herring, or simply changing the standard color to stand out amongst a school of the bait (How many pink baitfish have you seen?). This is the point my father has always sworn by. "Try different things until something works". If the bite is off change your gear every 15 minutes, try different speeds and depths. Eventually, you´ll find the right combination.

The other problem that can occur is while fishing a spoon the way it comes out of the package and not experimenting in any other way. Some are rigged by the manufacturer to tie directly to a swivel, or just a ring, some spoons even come bare, no ring or hook.

Let´s start by talking about rings versus swivel. If a spoon is set up so all you do is tie directly to a swivel, the action will be completely different from the same spoon tied with just a ring.

When tying to either a welded ring or split ring, make sure that the knot is set as close to the weld, or gap in the case of a split ring. This ensures that the spoon can work off a smooth surface and not have its action affected by sliding on an uneven surface.

When tied directly to a swivel, the spoons action will be in a tighter axis roll or flop. (Never let your spoon spin, if it´s spinning, something is wrong) The motion of a spoon will be absorbed if tied to a swivel, rather than directly to a ring. The tendency is for it to swim side-to-side and flop if tied to the ring. This happens because the dish on the spoon will push it side to side as its being trolled through the water.

Another thing that will affect the action is the size and weight of a hook. Remember, when putting a hook on a spoon, to ensure that the bend of the hook is going the same direction as the dish on the bottom of the spoon. If you don´t the hook will counter-act the dish of the spoon and it won´t swim properly.

Recently I was trout fishing on Cowichan Lake and wanted to try some 5-inch Tomic Road Runner spoons. Normally I would use a 5/0-8/0 single siwash hook when fishing salmon, yet we were fishing for Cutthroat trout that are anywhere between 1-6 pounds. The size limit to retain a fish is 19.75 inches. So rather than use the large hooks 4/0-6/0, I used 2/0 barbless, red, single siwash Gamigatsu´s. Every fish we caught was hooked very well, yet not one fish was hooked in a way that it would be impaled, or gill hooked. The smaller hooks also hooked every bite. I feel this was due to the fact that the hook lay closer to the spoon and didn´t hang 2-3 inches behind it, as it would normally when using the larger hooks. The other bonus was that the spoon would have much more action because the hook didn´t slow it down and act as an anchor or rudder.

Now that we talked about smaller hooks, this may sound like the other end of the spectrum-Last summer while fishing with David Murphy I was having the worst luck in hooking a fish. I was getting lots of bites, yet didn´t land one salmon. I was so desperate I tried an old commercial fishermen´s trick, which seemed to pay off. I put 2 6/0 single siwash hooks on the tail ring of spoons that were 5 and 6 inches long. Both the hooks were side-by-side sitting the same way as the dish. Just looking at the spoon in the water I knew I would redeem myself and save face with David. The action was amazing! The spoon was swimming and rolling just like a live herring. It wasn´t until the next bite that I finally played one to the boat. I was happy.

Where do flashers come into play when using spoons and how do you know what leader lengths to use?

Flashers do two things when fished:

  1. They give a flash in the water, which attracts other fish. 
  2. They give extra action to your spoon.

Fish are attracted to other fish as well as bait. A flasher came come across as both, while being trolled through the water. The flash can look like another salmon swimming erratically, as well as sending off a flash that can look like a small group of baitfish.

Flashers are also used to give more action to other lures or bait. When a flasher goes around, it will pull the spoon in ways that the spoon could never be made to do on its own. This gives the spoon a very erratic movement. Using longer leaders or different strengths of line can alter the movement of a spoon behind a flasher.

Now for leader length-If a shorter leader is used the action will be more erratic, because when the flasher moves the spoon will be close enough that it will follow every movement. This is a very effective method when fishing for any species of fish that are very active and challenged by fast moving bait; such as Coho, pinks, or Feeder Chinooks.

From the idea that different species can be targeted using various leader lengths, leader lengths for Chinook will vary based on the time of their life cycle. As a Chinook get closer to spawning in a river they slow their eating and bite out of aggression. So a fast irritating presentation as the season goes on can be very productive, or something else to try, when the bite is slow. This is also true when fishing for feeder Chinook during winter and spring months, when they are very aggressively feeding.

When I begin to talk about longer leaders, I‘m usually referring to leaders of about 6-12 feet. These leader lengths can be very productive when fish start getting finicky in their eating habits. A flasher may bring fish to your gear, yet there are times when they will only come so close, yet not close enough to grab a fast erratic spoon.

The speed and action can be greatly affected when trolling not only spoons, but also bait and hootchies, when the using different diameter monofilament lines. Believe it or not, but a heavier line will give more action to you bait, rather then a more light, limber line. The heavier leaders are restricted to bending then a light mono and will ultimately have more of a direct impact on the movement caused from the flasher; where as, the lighter line will bend and muffle action from the flasher.

I guess the main thing I´m trying to pass on, is that variety is the key to being a good fisherman. The more proficient you are in various methods, the more fish you will catch. Stop and listen to the guys at the dock and even take a look in their boat. See what they´ve tied on their rods and watch what their doing on the water. Eventually you´ll learn some more tricks of the trade.

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