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How to Troll Like a Pro for Salmon [PICS]

Images via Randall Bonner

Rigging Brad’s Superbaits and Pro-Troll Flashers for salmon can be a deadly combination.

The first time I heard about this technique was from Jeff Holmes, lead writer for Northwest Sportsman Magazine. Inland salmon fisheries were foreign territory to me, but this particular setup was the standard when I visited the eastern Washington stretches of the upper Columbia River to fish with Jeff as well as his friend and guide, TJ Hester.

As the popularity of this technique drifted closer to coastal areas, anglers have customized rigging for different applications and started employing trade secrets of custom cures for the “bait.”

TJ’s customized bait cures are very simple, effective, and available on the Pautkze website.

TJ sent me a few samples of the mini-cut plug Brad’s Superbait, and they have earned my confidence.

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Randall Bonner (Photo via Josh Hopkins)

What I found most interesting about the method was that acquiring bait was as simple as taking a trip to the local grocery store, a necessity when you’re hundreds of miles from coastal sources for herring and anchovy, popular baits for trolling coastal bays.

Getting bait is as easy as grabbing a can of tuna off the shelf. If you’re a tuna angler, you probably already have some very high quality stock in your cabinet. While some argue that some particular tuna brands are more effective than others as well as tuna in oil vs. water, they all work.

Customizing the flavors of your bait is easy as well with a plethora of options for scents. Pay attention to baitfish in the area and try to match the local fare. Choose an individual combination of a water soluble scent that will trail behind the bait and a gel scent that sticks to the bait and encourages fish to hang on longer.

Some swear by presenting a consistent scent while others present a menu for the fish to chew on. The mystery of developing the right presentation will give you a reason to go back into the bait lab.

All sizes and colors are effective, but like many situations in fishing, if everyone is doing the same thing without success, don’t be afraid to try something different. Take into consideration contrast of your presentation with water color, and the necessity of size in relation to water clarity.

The rigging is not much different from any in-line flasher setup, but often requires a heavier piece of lead due to the drag from the action of the flasher. That steady rhythm of action from the drag of the Pro-Troll Flasher is also an indicator that you’re fishing effectively.

Making sure to check your depth regularly will keep you in the strike zone, and be mindful of dragging debris to keep things turning. Much like checking the spin on a herring or anchovy, you’ll want to make sure that the hook(s) are not wrapped on the leader and everything is rotating properly.

The stock hooks are good for a fish fresh out of the package, but replacing them regularly will increase your hookups exponentially.

Employing the techniques and rigging from Eastern Washington Anglers has proven success for me on several trips, at times out-fishing fresh herring or anchovy baits. This technique has also proven its effectiveness regardless of geographic location.

For a more detailed explanation, check out this video below that Marlin Lefever of Fishing Addicts Northwest put together as a tutorial on how he rigs the Brad’s Superbait behind a Pro-Troll Flasher.

Experiment with different applications, and have a net within reach.

Tight lines!

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How to Troll Like a Pro for Salmon [PICS]