How To Troll Spinners For Salmon

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Most people will use spinners for casting and retrieving but they actually work really well for trolling as well. If you can use something the fish don’t see often you might increase the odds of catching something. In this post, I’m going to be talking about how to troll for salmon using spinners.

If you’re going to troll for salmon using a spinner you’re going to need a sliding weight clip, a swivel, a trolling flasher, and then your favorite spinner. You’re obviously going to need your main fishing line (I use braid) and then a leader line (I use fluorocarbon). It’s a pretty simple setup but it does work extremely well in certain spots.

I’m not saying this is the only or right way to do things because it’s not. You can keep it as simple or as complex as you want. You can just use weight and a spinner if you want but I think you’ll have the best chance of catching salmon if you do a little bit more work at the start. Let’s jump into how to set everything up.

The Setup

The first thing we’ll talk about is what rod and reel to use. It’s really not that important and you can pretty much use whatever you’re most comfortable with. It could be a spinning rod, baitcaster, trolling rod, or whatever else you have. The one thing I’ll recommend is that you use the right rod for the job. If you’re after 2 lb kokanee then you won’t need a heavy rod (you can if you want though). If you have a lighter fishing rod you’ll be able to feel the bite better. I like a medium-heavy rod because you can use it for a variety of different fish.

The next step is to figure out what type of fishing line you’re going to use. If you want to keep things as simple as possible then you can just use a straight monofilament setup. I prefer using a braided line as my main and a fluorocarbon leader. I’ll use a 20 lb braid most of the time but I’ll bump it up to 30 lbs if I’m going after bigger salmon. I’ll then use a fluorocarbon leader (10-15 lbs for most but heavier for bigger fish).

Now we have to set up the fishing line. what you’ll want to do is attach your sliding weight clip to your main fishing line (braid). This is where you’ll be putting the weights to help your spinner sink. You’ll then attach a swivel to keep the weight clip in place. The next step is to attach a 3-foot leader to the other end of your swivel and then attach that to your flasher. I like using the Uni knot to attach line to my swivel.

You’ll then attach a 12-16 inch leader to the other end of your flasher and then attach that to your spinner. The color on your flasher isn’t really a huge deal in my opinion but the color of your spinner will make a difference. If you’re fishing early in the morning you’ll want to start with a black spinner. As things start to brighten up you’ll want to use a brighter spinner.

The Strategy

The first thing we’ll talk about is how much weight to put on. It’s going to depend on the depth of water you’re in but the big thing you want to remember is that you should always be above the fish and not below. They’re generally looking up and if you’re below them, you’ll get fewer bites. If you’re fishing in water that’s under 40 feet then you’ll probably only need a 1 or 2 oz weight. If you’re deeper then you’ll want a bit more.

The next thing is how fast you should be trolling. It’s not an exact science so you’ll have to test different speeds but it’s normally between 1.5 and 3 MPH. A lot of it will depend on what type of salmon you’re after and what time of year it is. Some people might not have a speedometer with them, so if that’s the case, you’ll want to look at your rod bend and spinner action. Toss your spinner in the water and make sure it’s actually spinning. If your rod is in the water and there’s no bend, you’re going too slow. If it’s bent all the way, you’re going to fast.

The third step is to figure out how far your spinner should be behind the boat. Again, it’s not an exact science and it’ll be different a lot of the time but somewhere around 50-60 feet behind the boat is ideal. If you have a line counter on your rod it’ll be easy, but if not, you’ll have to do your best to estimate.

The final step is to figure out where the fish are. You’ll want to spend the majority of your time fishing ledges. These are spots where the depth drops off. If you don’t know where the ledges are, you can use Navionics. When you know where the ledges are, you’ll want to troll in a zig-zag pattern to bring your spinner in and out of the shelf. You can just troll in a straight line but I’ve had the best results doing this.

Happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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