Sunday, 17 December 2017

Spoons in Saltwater Trolling

Spoons are probably the easiest type of lure to troll. You can have confidence in their ability to continue fishing, once they are set at trolling depth, and thus need only check them every half hour, rather than sooner, as with other types of lures.

The useful thing about downrigger fishing – spoons are usually used at depth in winter months, in saltwater – is that once the release clip has been attached to the cable, chances are that any weed/flotsam that gets caught on the mainline at the surface, will not get past where the clip attaches to the mainline above the lure/flasher. 

If you trip the line to check the lure, do not assume that ‘weed’ has been on the lure for long, because any that reaches the clip and stops there, simply migrates toward the flasher once the line has been tripped from the release clip. And it is worthwhile saying that ‘weed’ is less common in the winter than in summer.

Unlike hootchies that can have lots of reasons for their fronds to get caught on one another, hooks and so on, spoons, if you watch them descend from the surface without weed, will not foul on themselves. Bait has many reasons why it may not continue fishing for long without some decay in its spiral pattern, for example, it may slip back from the teaserhead and end up with a ninety-degree unfishy bend in no time flat.

Ease of use is one of the best reasons to use spoons. In winter, at depth, it is useful to have spoons/flashers that have glow and UV properties, so that beyond about 90 feet where surface light does not penetrate, the tackle is actually emitting visible light, or UV that can also be seen deeper. 
Spoons can be run with or without flashers in clear winter water. If with a blade, use four- to six-feet of leader to the spoon, and vary your speed so that you accommodate the two- and three-year old chinook that will pick up speed to catch a meal unlike their four-year old brethren that are losing their bite reflex prior to spawning. In addition to fishing with the tide, consider zig zagging if a straight-line pattern runs you through a fishy area too quickly.

Twenty-five-pound test leader is good for spoons. Higher test dampens spoon action, while lower test risks a break off after the bite. As with hootchies, you will find some spoons catch more fish, even though they look identical to the second one you throw out that never catches anything. Fish those killers until they break off, rather than change leaders and kill their mystical properties altogether.

Over the years, many spoon lines have evolved. In the beginning, commercial spoons like the whole silver, or half silver half brass Tom Macks ruled the day. Then the Clendon, and Clendon Stewart spoons came along, as did Krippled Ks. Perhaps the time when spoons evolved most quickly occurred more than 30 years ago when Radiant Lures put out a line with multiple colour combinations, soon imitated by Luhr Jensen. We tend to think of a Coyote spoon, half white, half glow green as a Luhr Jensen lure. But it was first put out by Radiant (Now called Supertackle).

Other colours soon followed, including Cop Car, Cop Car Glow (for west coast Van Isle) Army Truck, Glo-Below, Tiger Prawn… the list goes on. And in recent years, yet another explosion of spoons hit the market, Coho Killers, for instance, G Force spoons from Gibbs, as well as Skinny Gs, and AP Tackleworks (their spoons are made with stainless steel). The issue with long line-ups is: which of the many colour patterns actually work. This is best answered by fellow anglers, at least those who catch fish, launching ramps and weekly fishing reports, Island Outfitters, for example. 

The White Lightning in Coho Killers is good in the winter. As is the Outfitters G Force. Do note, however, that some lures have issues. Coho Killers, for example, are made for freshwater, and thus the lure and hook rust in saltwater. The downside is needing to use a lotion-style (not sandpaper that simply rubs the finish off the spoon) metal cleaner like Brasso on the lure from time to time, and taking care to remove it all – scent is the issue. Then change the hook, to a Siwash, or Octopus style kerbed hook, and finally, watch the lure wriggle beside the boat at trolling speed. The issue is to retain the fishy action that caught fish before the original hook rusted.

And, finally, don’t hold a fish up by the spoon. If it is a stamped tin one, it will bend, and you may have just ruined a killer lure. It is worthwhile keeping your ‘spidy’ senses on at all times, as superstition can be a good thing, when figuring out which spoon is your best spoon.

Some Useful Links:

A link to Radiant spoon colours:

A link to Coho Killers. Scroll down to get a good explanation of the issues with this lure, which, nonetheless has been, and continues to be, an outstanding spoon for saltwater trolling year-round in the greater Victoria area:

A link to AP Tackleworks – all stainless steel spoons, a real advantage, and with a non-rusting hook, means you won’t have to change a hook and wonder whether you have ruined the spoon's action:

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