Category Archives: Rigs

Rig of the Month– A simple Catfishing setup!

This simple Catfish jig could be a great start to your season, sure to keep your line buzzing.

First, you’ll need an egg sinker on the end of your line, a classic catfisher companion, and a favorite for live bait. It’ll be great for catching these alleged bottomfeeders (Apparently, there is some debate about whether or not catfish are true bottomfeeders). Whether or not Catfish really sink to the bottom or choose to look up for their meals, I’m not inclined to doubt what works.

Next, you’ll need a barrel swivel, because the part after is gonna be monofilament line, and you don’t want tangles or twists weakening or damaging the line.

A few inches of monofilament line (Ok, about two feet of it, at least 20lb line), and you can add on your hook. We prefer a Gamakatsu Shiner hook, anywhere from 2/0 to 5/0, so you can keep your live baits, well, live! They’re strong, too.

This setup should get you catching cats in no time, and without getting to complicated in our rigging. Now go get some cats! (And report back on whether you find them at the bottom or elsewhere, would you? Now I’m curious.)

Rig Of The Month: Plastic Grubs

Use Small Plastic Grubs, Catch Mighty Numbers Of Light-biting Bottomfish

NOTES
Ever wondered what those light nibblers are that never get hooked? Sometimes they’re small rockfish but other times they can be large light-biting rockfish and lingcod. Using smaller hooks and 2-inch grubs will quickly solve the mystery.

(LARRY ELLIS)

(LARRY ELLIS)

For ocean purposes, Gamakatsu makes snelled leaders with baitholder hooks ranging from size 2 through 6/0. They come pretied with long, 24-inch leaders to allow you ample room for tying your own tailor-made leader-sizes. The lack of a loop on one end gives you the choice whether to tie your leader directly to a swivel or to make your own loops. The perfection loop is the perfect choice for most bottomfishing rigs.
You can also resnell these ultra-sharp baitholder hooks using heavier pound test if you so desire. Go with smaller Gamakatsu baitholder hooks and they will rapidly tell you what the bait-stealer is on any given day. –Larry Ellis

Rig Of The Month-Gamakatsu

Dancing Stinger Hook For Bottomfish

ROTM-web

NOTES: Diamond jigs with a shrimp fly (or two) are the lure of choice for many bottomfish anglers. Not only is the rigging simple, it’s very effective at quickly getting down to the fish and enticing them to bite. It’s not uncommon to bring up two or three black, blue or other various rockfish at a time with this rigging.

Cutting the stock treble hooks off the bottom of the diamond jig and adding a dancing stinger hook (or two) will not only result in more fish hooked but keep you from snagging the reef you are fishing over. While the initial investment in new hooks may seem expensive, it will quickly pay back in saved jigs. –Andy Schneider

Bass love spoons, and they can be used everywhere from on the surface to the deepest depths in Southern California lakes, including now as winter begins. (BILL SCHAEFER)

Don’t Forget the Silverware

WINTER BASS LOVE THE MOVEMENT OF SPOONS
–By Capt. Bill Schaefer

It was a warm Southland summer and fall seems to be headed in the same direction.

Bass have been chasing shad and the topwater action at most Southern California lakes has been the ticket to success. As long as the temperatures stay up, the topwater fishing will continue. But even as the baitfish sink out and are not relating to the surface as much, you can still chase the bass; they are just a little deeper.

As we know, the bass start to chase shad in the late summer and fall, and it is these balls of bait that keep them healthy, happy and full through the winter. As on any lake, if you can find the baitfish, you can usually find bass close by. Spooning can be effective through the end of summer until early spring, but will work almost year-round. It’s a trick you need to keep in your arsenal.

I want to tell you that you shouldn’t be afraid of the technique of spooning. Don’t be discouraged that this type of fishing can be too hard or complicated to learn or use. It does take some practice, but no more than any other technique.

Also, it is not always a deep-water technique. It can be just as effective in more shallow waters as well. Practice and patience will make you a better spoon fisherman. Your first bass with a spoon will – and apologies for the pun – have you hooked.

Where should you use them, you may be asking? Well, spoons can be used everywhere from on the surface to the deepest depths. There are few lures that can rival a spoon in deep water, especially when the bass are starting to get finicky. They are great all-around lures for when bass are suspended in sunken treetops, around deep rock piles or schooledup and chasing bait. Brush piles in deep water, old river channels and stumps can also hold fish; the spooning method can be deadly in taking bass from around them.

Choosing the correct spoons can be important as well. You want to come close to the size of the shad you are trying to emulate. Too large a spoon or too small of one can keep you from getting a reaction bite. Too much flash or not enough can matter as well. The action of the spoon or the flutter on the fall can make a bass eat or not bother with the lure. Matching the hatch, as they say, can make all the difference in the world.

Technique is important and there are many different ways to work a spoon. It all depends on where you are fishing with the bait. You drop the spoon down until you think you are in the same zone the fish are feeding in. Put the reel in gear, pointing the rod tip at the water, and snap the rod tip up almost as if you were setting the hook. Next, drop the rod tip back towards the water. This lets the spoon flutter down. If you detect a bite, set the hook; if you miss the feel of the bite, the next snap of the rod sets the hook.Bass love spoons, and they can be used everywhere from on the surface to the deepest depths in Southern California lakes, including now as winter begins. (BILL SCHAEFER)

Just about every lake in California has a shad population the bass are keying on and spooning is the technique to use this time of year. As I mentioned, you can almost spoon year-round, but as we head towards winter, it is a preferred method by many professional bass anglers. CS

Big trout baits mean big bass, even some that just think they’re big enough to swallow a swimbait resembling a stocked trout. (ACTION JACKSON FISHING)

THE BASS WINTER BUFFET

SWIMBAITS RESEMBLING TROUT CAN SCORE BIG FISH
By Bill Schaefer

SAN DIEGO—It is that time of year when a lot of the Southern California lakes plant trout for the benefit of fishermen.
Usually, winter in the Southland can bring difficult fishing for largemouth. But who do the trout benefit more, the trout fishermen or the bass fishermen? Now that most bass anglers have adapted to winter fishing by using trout imitation lures, it’s anyone’s ball game.
Some lures look so real they look like a taxidermist made them. When thousands of pounds of trout stream into the lakes at planting time, it’s like a dinner bell went off. If you’ve ever seen it, it’s hard to believe there are any trout left when they are done.
The trout plants wake a lake up and the normally sleepy larger fish are now on the prowl for an easy meal. That’s where the trout swimbait lures come in. They just attract giant bass. You may not get a giant every time you go out, but if you put in the time, you will eventually score a record for yourself. It may be cold and rainy or sunny and warm, but it seems like the transition right before a storm – and maybe just into the storm – is the time to score bass.
For lures, the list is endless now that the swimbait explosion has taken place over the last several years. There are inexpensive lures to ones only a few can afford, but many in between that will work well.
Sizes vary from 4 inches to a 2-pound rainbow trout. If the lure looks like a trout or close to it, they will work. Do a little homework and find out what the lake you’re planning to fish is going to plant; this will help with color selection. Most lakes plant rainbows, so a variation on this will do well. Throw parallel to the shoreline, as most trout will cruise along the shore and the bass will use the shallows to trap them.

Big trout baits mean big bass, even some that just think they’re big enough to swallow a swimbait resembling a stocked trout. (ACTION JACKSON FISHING)

Big trout baits mean big bass, even some that just think they’re big enough to swallow a swimbait resembling a stocked trout. (ACTION JACKSON FISHING)

For the heavier trout lures, a medium-heavy to heavy triggerstick will do the trick. Load it with a heavily braided line like the new Maxima braid in the 50- to 60-pound range and a fluorocarbon leader of at least 30 pounds. You don’t want to throw that expensive lure into the lake after a few casts. Always keep checking your line as well for nicks or cuts. The tackle can match the lure size you are throwing. It will wear you out a bit, but just keep thinking of the reward and the adrenaline rush you will get with a giant catch! CS

PLUGGING AWAY AT CHINOOK

TUNA-WRAPPED PLUGS
ONE WAY TO STALK SALMON

By Scott Haugen

Four decades has passed since I landed my first Chinook salmon on a plug, a U20 Flat- Fish to be exact. Since that time there have been numerous Chinook, coho and steelhead taken by back trolling plugs, a technique I never tire of using. Over the years I’ve wrapped plugs with various baits, from herring to bacon, scent-soaked sponges to squid. Then, about a decade ago, a buddy introduced me to a bait option that could be wrapped on a plug, one I’d never before tried. It was tuna, and though I’d fished it from a spawn sack hanging on the trailing hook of big plugs, I’d never considered wrapping it.
Start with a can of tuna, either oil packed or water-packed. Between the thumb and three fingers, take a pinch of tuna and position it on the belly of the plug. Mag Lips, Hawg Nose Flat Fish and Kwikfish can all effectively be wrapped in this way.
The first time I tried fishing a tuna-wrapped plug I thought there was no way the tuna chunks would stay on when wrapped with simple thread. But as the tuna compresses on to the belly-side of the plug, it firms up. True, little bits of tuna will fall off due to the water current and plug action, but that’s what creates a stronger scent trail for fish to follow. Once the tuna is balanced on the plug, start wrapping it with stretthread. This elastic thread binds the tuna chunks, keeping them secure and intact, surprisingly well. If you can’t find stretchy thread at the local sporting goods store, regular plug-wrapping thread will work fine, but use more wraps than normal. Even in rough water and when bounced along the bottom, the stretchy thread holds the tuna in place.
Once you’ve wrapped the tuna securely in place from the tail-end up to the eye of the belly hook, flip the belly hook over onto the already secured tuna and continue wrapping past the eye of the belly hook, toward the bill of the plug. How far up you go depends on the plug being used and how its action is influenced by the addition of the tuna. Once the tuna is securely wrapped, it’s ready to fish. Even after fish hit them, usually enough tuna is intact to keep the plug fishing.

buble

As with any plug, the approaches are the same when fishing those wrapped with tuna. Depending on what river you’re fishing,what the conditions are like and what plugs you’re working, you’ll have to figure out for yourself what works best in your situation.
Some plugs simply pull more efficiently when flat lined, while others
track just as good with a surprising amount of tuna strapped to them. Experiment with different combinations in a variety of water settings and soon you’ll soon be dialed-in.
In deeper holes a diver may be necessary to help get that wrapped plug down. But if using a Hawg Nose Flat-
Fish, flat lining to 20 feet deep is possible under ideal conditions.
There are two schools of thought when running a diver with a tuna wrap setup. One is to go with a diver that relieves some of the stress on the plug, whereby keeping more of the tuna intact for a longer period. The other theory is to forego the diver, allowing the plug to move more aggressively, whereby possibly establishing a heavier scent trail. There is no right or wrong approach, as much of what we know, or think we know, in the salmon fishing world is based on speculation. On a recent spring Chinook trip, a buddy and I moved through a deep hole with jumbo divers keeping our tuna-wrapped plugs close to the bottom. Our goal was to stay deep as it was late morning, the sun was on the water and several boats had already
passed through the hole. We had one strike on our first pass, nothing on our second. Then we removed the divers and ran back through the same water. I missed a good strike but my buddy connected. On the next pass I tagged another fish.
The only difference in those final passes was that we used no diver, just tuna-wrapped plugs.Whether the fish were suspended a bit or liked the action of the plug better without a diver we’ll never know, but the fact remains they were responsive to the change. For a decade now, I’ve been fishing tuna-wrapped plugs, and one thing
I’ve found is they seem to produce bites when other offerings can’t. I don’t know if this is because the fish simply respond to a different scent being in the water or that they just got agitated
into biting. Some of the most impressive success
stories I’ve witnessed with tuna wrapped plugs is how well they produce when fished behind other anglers. Be it amid heavy boat traffic or intense bank pressure, the tuna simply ignites a spark that eggs, herring and other baits don’t always produce.
This season try wrapping some plugs with tuna. Based on my experience, whatever river you try them in, I’m confident you’ll be impressed.

Craig Adkinson’s collection of jigs and worms will work well this time of year. A key is letting your rig sink toward the bottom and then retrieved slowly through the strike zone. (CRAIG ADKINSON)

RIG THAT JIG

WINTER MEANS GIANT SOCAL TROUT
By Chris Cocoles 

Winter trout in Southern California lakes can be massive. Just ask Craig Adkinson, a veteran Orange County-based angler who swears by fishing jig setups this time of year.
Adkinson had a productive opener at the Santa Ana River Lakes in November, landing a 10-pound Mt. Lassen-strain rainbow on chartreuse and white Mijos Minnow jig. He hopes for many more big ?sh to come into 2015. There are no shortage of options for

Craig Adkinson with 10-pound rainbow trout

Craig Adkinson landed this 10-pound rainbow on a Mijos Minnow jig at Santa Ana River Lakes. Various crappie and mini jigs will catch Southland trout this winter. (CRAIG ADKINSON)

Southland anglers to dip a line with the prospects of pulling out monster rainbows and browns. Santa Ana River Lakes and Irvine Lake are convenient locations for Adkinson, who lives in the city of Orange. Toward the Inland Empire, try Yucaipa Regional Park and Corona Lake; Adkinson also likes to hit up Jess Ranch Lakes near Hesperia and Lake Poway, northeast of San Diego.
But the common ground of wherever you choose to fish is finding good jig baits. One setup that will help you catch big trout on jigs include a dropshot rig.
“There’s a pencil weight on the bottom with a little loop on top,” Adkinson says of the dropshot presentation. “The little pinch part (atop the weight) is made really simple to where all you do is stick the line through it and it will hold the line in place.”
Several variations on jigs and worms work well: Berkley Power worms, Shaun’s Smokin’ jigs, Sniper Baits, LGE worms, Lip Ripperz are all staples at Southern California lakes.
Some kind of garlic- or roe-flavored scent will add some flavor to the lure, and Adkinson likes to add one more appetizer to his setup.
“If you’re using a crappie jig or a tube jig – whatever you want to call it – one thing for certain is getting some jumbo mealworms, the ones they sell for (anglers who) fish for catfish. If you pin the opposite end of the worm on your jig, that mealworm moves around on there after you throw it out. So a lot of times it’ll get bit when it’s falling.”
The addition of a live worm tipped onto your hook only enhances jigs that already provide natural movement that drives fish crazy.
“They call it a reaction strike that you’re going for. For larger fish, they’re aggressive,” Adkinson says, “and though you’ll see big fish when guys throw out a nightcrawler and the occasional guy who will get lucky and catch a big one on PowerBait, but in schools of fish there are a bunch of little ‘rats.’ But you want to throw a bait big enough so the rats can’t eat it and you won’t get kicked off the lake for catching too many fish too fast.”
The cast you make is only a fraction of the technique needed. How you retrieve your rig back is also crucial to enticing bites.
“When you throw out your jig – whether it’s a dropshot or Carolina rig – if you’re using a spinning rod and reel, take your index finger and put it on the top part where the cork or foam meets the blank of the rod,” Adkinson says.
“Continue to balance the rod to where it’s not moving crazy-style but just move consistently. And at the same time, barely move the handle really slowly. You want to make sure to keep your bait in the strike zone longer and keep it going so it’s shaking in front of the fish’s face.”
When throwing a dropshot rig, Adkinson thinks it’s effective since the weight of the setup will begin to sink toward the bottom but the

Craig Adkinson with fish

Irvine Lake’s rainbows are among the targets for southland anglers this winter. (CRAIG ADKINSON)

dropshot will remain suspended off the rocks. By turning the reel slowly it keeps the bait in the strike zone longer, but at the same time, irritating trout enough that they’ll often react to the presentation.
“But if you’ve thrown it out like 30 times one way and you’re retrieving it slowly and bouncing it and nothing’s happening, that’s when we start throwing it out, jerking it once and then letting it sit there for a second,” he says. “It’s what they call dead-sticking it. If that doesn’t work we’ll do what it’s called speed up and slow down – go super fast like it’s scared and then tone it down for a little bit. Lots of time that gets (trout) to react.”
Adkinson also likes to use a “rattle bobber” with his jigs for early-morning situations.
“That little bobber has little shotgun shell BBs inside, and when you fish it, that thing rattles. So you can have a crappie jig with a (5- to 8-foot leader) and you let that stay on the surface,” Adkinson says. “In the mornings or evenings the fish come up to the surface feeding on baitfish. The bobber keeps the lure up top, and it makes noise.” CS

Editor’s note: Craig Adkinson is the on pro staff for Phenix Rods, Izorline line, Owner Hooks, Skinny Bear jigs, Sea Eagle Boats, Wiley X glasses, Bite-On scents and Cast Mate rod holders, among others. 

These custom-made lures include one chrome crappie and one yellow perch. Lure designer Eric McIntire didn’t even name the others that were ordered specially by customers. Your imagination can run wild with these items. (ERIC MCINTIRE/FISHHEAD CUSTOM LURES)

GETTING THROUGH CUSTOMS

CUSTOM-BUILT LURES ARE AN OPTION FOR FISHING FANATICS
By Mike Stevens 

Fishermen have been tweaking and customizing lures for as long as there have been lures. From taking a red Sharpie to a lure, to dipping it in glow-in-the-dark dye or even getting brave with the wife’s nail polish, modifying the appearance of a fishing lure is just another outlet satisfying a man’s genetic need to tinker.

Customized Shimano Reel

FishHead Custom Lures designer Eric McIntire calls this customized reel the Dorado Curado. You can order custom lures on various Facebook pages and eBay. (ERIC MCINTIRE/FISHHEAD CUSTOM LURES)

In recent years, production lures have become increasingly more realistic. Decades ago, lure companies would have colors like “shad” and “crawfish” and the exotic “black and gold.” These days, companies can have 10 different shad patterns alone, and as many crawfish, and so many other color combinations that the Bass Pro Shops master catalog now directs you to their website to see the entire list of available colors rather than list them all in print.
They are also getting more expensive, and sometimes, your favorites get discontinued, turning you into a raving, bait-hoarding lunatic.
Recently, I have noticed a trend in the lure world that is changing the game in terms of getting the right type of lure in the perfect color for specific regions, or even, specific bodies of water. Custom lure building, and more specifically, painting, has become “a thing,” and I don’t mean to the tune of grandpa whittling topwater lures on the porch and painting them flat white with a red head. What I am talking about is this: individuals turning “blank” (prepainted) lure bodies into ultraspecific patterns via an airbrush, and selling them – for our purposes – on the Internet.

SURF ON OVER to Facebook and search for the group, “Bass Baits Buy and Barter,” and check out what I am talking about. The first thing you will see are the basic rules: as a bait maker/seller, you are allowed two auctions in a 24-hour period, and up to five fixed-price sales per day. Scroll down the wall below that, and you will see post after post of custom luremongers peddling their wares and the terms of their particular auction. There’s a short description of the lure – with a photo – something along the lines of, “Bidding starts at $1, increase bid in $1, PayPal only, shipping is $5, etc.” Then, bidders have at it by entering their bid as a comment under the post, and they’re off and running.
Oh, and at the time of this writing, there were 27,239 members of

A custom fishing lure

After purchasing quality lure blanks, custom lure makers apply a white basecoat over which they use stencils, mesh or their own hand to create realistic patterns – this one is a mullet Lunker Punker – then they apply a final clear coat. (ERIC MCINTIRE/FISHHEAD CUSTOM LURES)

the group. And that is just one such group on Facebook. This kind of thing is also happening on eBay, although it seems as though buyers and sellers are gravitating more toward the Facebook version.
Eric McIntire of San Diego-based FishHead Custom Lures (facebook. com/fishheadcustomlures; Instagram: @fishhead15) focuses on custom airbrush jobs on hard baits (there are guys in the group that sell other types of lures, too) and mainly sells them in the Bass Bait Buy and Barter Facebook group.
Basically, he buys blank lures from about four different suppliers after he decided they had the best stuff. McIntire will tape off the diving bill (if it has one), put down a white basecoat, and create the desired pattern utilizing stencils, mesh, and even freehand. Once it is painted, he will apply a clearcoat, then place it on a homemade “drying wheel” for 30 minutes and then let it sit overnight.
After a final inspection of that process, he will add quality split rings and VMC hooks, and it’s ready to sell, auction, or fsh with. Typically, his lures will sell for $7 to $17 in an auction, or at a flat rate to someone who might have come up short in the auction, but still wants one – or often times, many – in that particular pattern.
As for the patterns, you could probably imagine how many different things people want out there, but a lot of the time, it comes down to realistic reproductions of actual stuff the fish are eating.
“I have been trying to match forage baits; I really wanted to get bluegill and crappie patterns down first. I want to be as realistic as possible,” said McIntire. “One guy wanted 10 rattle baits painted in a Tennessee shad pattern. He sent me a photo, and I matched it. Another guy wanted 22 crawdad patterns. I spent a lot of time getting that one dialed in for him, and when I did, he was happy with it.”
To speak of their effectiveness, the proof is already in the proverbial pudding.
“The Tennessee shad patterns were for a tournament guy back East: those patterns have led to 40-pluspound limits on one particular lake,” McIntire added. “The craw patterns were for another tourney guy, and he wanted me to match the crawdads on his lakes in Oklahoma.”
While most FishHead Custom Lures available in the Facebook group are for bass, as a San Diego native McIntire has experimented with lures to use for local inshore, bay, and surf situations as well. These include jerkbaits that are dead ringers for local smelt, and a big topwater Lunker Punker painted to look like a mullet to a big San Diego Bay halibut or shortfin corbina.
I personally had McIntire paint a Berkley Flicker Shad to look like

A multitude of custome lures--one of which looks like a clown fish

Custom lures are designed to mimic everything from your favorite baseball, football or hockey team, or, in this case, making your refrigerator magnets suitable for casting into a lake. (ERIC MCINTIRE/FISHHEAD CUSTOM LURES)

the Sacramento perch from Crowley Lake, because even though Rapala and other companies’ perch patterns work there, the perch that they are imitating look nothing like the Sierra fish. A lure manufacturer who tried to replicate it would die on the vine if they did, because the dull, boring coloration on a Sac perch would never catch the eye of an angler weeding through lures in a tackle shop.
Naturally, requests for custom lures that will never see the water also come in. McIntire has made lures honoring favorite sports teams, crankbaits that look like big offshore fish like yellowfin tuna or yellowtail to commemorate someone’s first catch of each species.

And he does plenty of Nemos. CS

The author caught this steelhead on a sunrise pattern Maxi Jig. Note the dropper coming from the jig, which has a Corky on the other end. The author credits the jig’s increased movement, thanks to the addition of a trailing Corky, for fooling this fish. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

SOLVING THIS JIGSAW PUZZLE

TRICKING WINTER STEELHEAD FROM THE BOTTOM
By Scott Haugen 

Fishing legend Buzz Ramsey knows I’ve been a steelhead jig fishing fanatic for many years, and when he told me of a spinoff to this approach, he caught my attention. The following setup can be applied to any jig fishing setup, be it on a sliding or fixed float; everything stays the same – the only difference is the addition of a second hook with a bare Lil’ Cork:
TYPICALLY, A JIG is fished 1 or 2 feet off the bottom. Surprisingly, when marabou jigs drift downstream beneath a float, they are very streamlined. The action of the float on the surface will cause the jig to move around a bit, but usually there’s little undulation. Enter the Corky on a dropper. The setup is simple and consists of tying an 18- to 24-inch leader directly to the jig. For steelhead fishing in heavy, turbid water, I pretie my leader to a size 1/0 hook and peg a size 10 Corky an inch or two above the hook. In clear, gentler water, I’ll downsize to a size 1 hook, topped with a size 12 Corky. It’s

important to keep the Corky pegged in place with a round toothpick so it doesn’t float up and down the leader. Some anglers who’ve used this setup with success prefer a red colored hook, but I’ve also caught fish on dark colored hooks as well as silver. Since Corkies float, it’s important to compensate for their buoyancy by using a hook that’s large enough to drift below the jig, one that will keep the Corky close to or even occasionally ticking the bottom. When tying the other end of the leader to the jig, tie it to the bend in the hook. From there, snug the knot and slide it up the shank of the hook toward the jig head. This allows the jig to run in a position horizontal to the bottom. As the Corky trails below, it will
be tossed around in currents and periodically bounce off of the bottom. By pegging the Corky a couple inches above the hook, it keeps the point of the hook from coming in contact with the bottom and hanging up. The buoyancy of the floating Corky is wherein the value of this presentation lies, as other, nonbuoyant presentations like beads and egg imitations can sink and cause hangups. In bedrock-strewn rivers and where excess debris may be collected on the bottom, I’ve had good results in preventing hangups by slipping a foam ball onto the hook. Slip the foam ball just beyond the barb so it keeps the point of the hook facing upwards as it drifts downstream. From there, fish the setup as you would a regular jig. What makes this approach so effective is the added coloration and movement. When Ramsey first told me about it, he shared how many anglers were reportedly doubling their normal catches. Many fish were being hooked on the Corky, fish that may not have otherwise responded to the jig.

person tying a dropper to a jig

Tying a dropper directly to your jig, then pegging a Corky above a bare hook, is a great attention-getter. Not only does the Corky add color to the presentation, it creates great jig movement, something fish can’t resist. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

THE FIRST TIME I fished the Corky dropper beneath a jig, I was surprised and impressed. A buddy and I side-drifted yarn balls through a steelhead hole – multiple times – without a strike. Then we broke out the jig rods. We made three passes through the same 100 yards of water without a takedown. The river was low and clear and we felt confident fish were holding there; we just couldn’t get them to bite. On the next pass, we added the Corky dropper to our jig setups. Halfway through the same section of water we’d been fishing, my buddy’s jig got hammered. The next pass, I landed a nice fish. The pass after that, we landed our third fish. Remember, all three of these steelhead came from water we’d just fished with two other approaches. What surprised me was that each fish we caught was hooked on the jig, not the Corky. No doubt, the addition of the Corky resulted in increased jig movement, something the steelhead couldn’t resist. Later, we did end up catching a couple fish on the trailing Corky.The addition of a Corky to a jig is a testimony to how changing one component to an already proven technique can boost catch rates, and any time that happens, anglers are happy. CS

Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book, Bank Fishing For Steelhead & Salmon, send a check for $17 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen.com.

Follow The Bouncing Bait

FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BAIT SCENT-DRIVEN SALMON CAN’T RESIST BACK-BOUNCING METHOD
By Scott Haugen

It’s no secret Chinook salmon are highly scent-driven. Imagine being born in a river or small stream, swimming out to the ocean then returning four or five years later to the exact location where you were born, all due to the ability to navigate through the sense of smell. If humans had noses even a fraction as sensitive as that of a salmon’s, life would not be enjoyable. Knowing salmon have such strong sniffers, anglers can maximize opportunities by targeting a salmon’s sense of smell. No matter what bait you use – baitfish, crawdad tails, cured eggs, etc. – the idea is to deliver a scent package to the fish, something they can smell, follow and eat. When it comes to salmon fishing in river systems, baits can be presented in various ways.

Drift-fishing is most common, where eggs are rolled along the bottom by anglers fishing from a stationary position. Bait can be suspended beneath a float. It can also be dragged behind a boat, backtrolled in front of the boat and even side-drifted. Bait can also be backbounced, arguably the best method when it comes to laying a scent line that fish can detect and follow.

STAY IN CONTROL
Back-bouncing is a favorite technique of many people for one simple reason: the angler is in total control of the presentation. Not only is the angler in control of where the terminal gear is at all times, but also the speed at which it travels downstream. Since this technique is one that fishes on the bottom of the creek, river, bay or ocean, it also allows anglers to learn the anatomy of the bottom by way of actually feeling what’s down there. When the bite comes through back-bouncing, it usually happens in one of three ways. A common take is where the fish hits the bait hard and runs, leaving no question as to what’s taking place.

Another common strike is when the terminal gear simply stops moving. This is where the angler quits feeling the bottom and when the attempt is made to let out more line, it doesn’t happen. That’s because the fish has the bait in its mouth and is simply sitting in one place. The third most common strike when back-bouncing is a slack-line bite. This is where the fish grabs bait and continues swimming upstream. You can often visually observe a belly forming in the line on such a take, meaning you better quickly reel up the slack and set the hook.When back-bouncing, the goal is to deliver the terminal gear package downstream at a rate considerably slower than that of the natural current flow. As a rule of thumb, backing the terminal gear downstream at a rate of about one-third to one-half the current flow is optimal.

A spider sinker set-up – a homemade cage that suspends a sinker – keeps the weight from getting hung-up and is a great option when back-bouncing. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

A spider sinker set-up – a homemade cage that suspends a sinker – keeps the weight from getting hung-up
and is a great option when back-bouncing. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

This ensures the presentation stays on the bottom and goes where you want it, still traveling downstream towards holding or traveling fish. Bait casting reels are ideal for back-bouncing. Position yourself where line can be let out straight downstream. Free-spool the line until the sinker finds bottom, then apply pressure on the reel with your thumb to stop the line from feeding out. Take up any slack by lifting the rod tip.

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When you want to advance the position of the terminal gear, thumb the spool and lift the rod until the gear is off the bottom. Reels are almost always on free-spool when back-bouncing. When dropping the rod tip back down, let out a foot or so of line. This will allow the terminal gear to be carried downstream as it falls back to the bottom. Again, take up any slack by lifting the rod tip. Continuing to pump the rod and feed out line, you’ll be able to back-bounce your way all the way down through the sweet spot until you run out of current or hook a fish.

NOT FANCY, JUST EFFECTIVE
Back-bouncing is a fairly simple, straight-forward technique where – with practice – the mechanics become second nature. The fact this style can be applied in such a wide range of settings shows how comprehensive an approach it really is. The back-bouncing set-up is simple. Tie your mainline to a three-way swivel. Tie your leader to another eye of the swivel, then your sinker dropper to the third eye. The sinker dropper can be short or long. For back-bouncing, I prefer a 5-foot dropper and 3-foot leader. On the dropper, I use a spider sinker, which will greatly reduce hang-ups. You can make your own spider sinker cage, but I buy mine from a disabled buddy, Russ Mathews, who makes them in Oregon and whom you can call to place orders at (541) 726-6916. Covering water under control and laying a scent trail is the objective when back-bouncing. Once you’re dialed-in to the art of this fishing style, you’ll be amazed at its range of applications and effectiveness.

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