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Kokanee is one of my favorite fish to eat and my favorite way to fish for them is by jigging. In this post, I’m going to be talking about how to jig for kokanee using spoons and what gear you’ll want to be using.
Over the years, I’ve mainly trolled for kokanee and rainbow and even though that did work well, it wasn’t always that fun. I don’t really like sitting there not doing anything, so I tried jigging and I thought it was way more entertaining. It’s also good because you don’t need a boat with a motor. You can jig in a canoe, kayak, or whatever boat you have.
I’m going to be talking about what rod and reel you should be using, what fishing line works best, how to find the right spots, what depth you should be fishing at, and a number of other tips. Continue reading or watch the video below for the full details on how to jig for kokanee salmon.
Jigging Gear For Kokanee
The first thing we’ll talk about is what rod and reel to use. It’s not all that important but you’ll definitely be better off with a lightweight spinning rod. You can use a different type of rod if you want but a spinning rod will always be the easiest option.
You’ll want to use a lightweight rod because you’ll be able to feel the fish bite way easier (they aren’t big fish). Any 1000 series reel will do the job and you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune. Use the rod you feel most comfortable with but I normally like to use something between 6 and 6.5 feet long.
The next question is what fishing line should you use. Everyone has a different opinion but I like to use a 20 lb braided line with a 6 lb monofilament leader (4 feet long). You could use straight fluoro or mono if you want but this is what I use on pretty much all my rods.
I like using braid because it’s a lot stronger than normal fishing line when you compare it to mono or fluoro of the same thickness (20 lb braid is the same thickness as 6 lb mono). It’s also going to be much more sensitive so you can toss it on a cheaper rod and you’ll still feel everything. Monofilament is good because it has stretch and won’t rip the hook out. You could use fluoro if you want though.
I like to connect my two lines directly but you can use a swivel if you want. Here’s how I connect the two lines:
When it comes to what spoon to pick, everywhere is going to be slightly different. Red might work well one day and then it’ll be completely different the next. The size I normally use is a 1/16 oz spoon. That seems to work the best but anything close to that should work too.
The color I normally go with is mainly silver with a little bit of red, orange, or yellow in it. Here’s a good spoon (I like the nickel fire stripe in 1/16 oz). You can see some more of our favorites here.
Where To Find Kokanee Salmon
Finding kokanee isn’t always the easiest thing to do but once you do find them, you’ll find a lot. You’ll most likely find kokanee near points that stick out into the water (fish the windy side), drop off points, and where the current is.
Fishing around points is always a good strategy for catching fish because you’ll get a lot of baitfish in that area. Especially when it’s windy out, be sure to fish the side of the point that’s getting all the wind. It’ll be less comfortable for you but you’ll catch more fish. The wind will blow in food for the fish and that’s why they’ll be in that area.
You’ll also want to spend a lot of your time fishing spots that have steep drop-offs. It’s always been hard to find these spots if you don’t have a fish finder but new tools have come out that make things a lot easier. I’ll talk about this in a second.
The final spot you’ll want to spend your time is near current. When there’s current, it’ll push baitfish and other food around and that’s where kokanee (and other fish) can get an easy meal. You’ll get current in lakes from wind and a few other things but you can learn more about that here.
Alright, so how do you find these spots? I like to use a tool called Navionics. It’s an online tool that’ll show you everything that’s going on under the water. You’ll be able to see underwater points, where all the drop off points are, and where the mounds or holes are. Here’s a post showing how to use Navionics.
How To Jig For Kokanee
Jigging is a pretty basic concept that anyone can do (even kids). All you really have to do is go to the right spot (just talked about that), drop your line down to the bottom, and lift your rod up and down.
The depth you jig at will be different throughout the year but kokanee will mainly be between 10 and 60 feet deep. You’ll have to experiment with a few different depths but I like to start deep and if nothing bites, move 10 feet shallower.
So, what you’ll want to do is figure out where the points and drop-off points are and go to those spots. You’ll then want to drop your line down to the bottom and reel in some of the slack (it’ll sit 1-2 feet off the bottom). You can then lift your rod up slowly and slowly let it fall back to the bottom (don’t do it too aggressively or you could snag a fish). Pause for a couple of seconds at the bottom and repeat.
Most of your bites will happen as your spoon is floating back down. Just remember, kokanee has very soft mouths so you don’t want to set the hook too hard. Keep tension on your line, and get the fish in the boat!