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This blog post is the ultimate guide to salmon trolling. You will learn everything you need to know about how to troll for salmon, what equipment you'll need, and which lures are best. Whether you're just starting out in fishing or a seasoned angler, this article has something that will help make your next trip successful!
Salmon trolling is the process of fishing by dragging a lure with the rod and reel over the bottom. You can do this with many fish species, including salmon. You'll need to use specific tactics for catching these fish in the ocean and freshwater environments.
In saltwater trolling, you will typically be casting your lure out into deeper water with a blind retrieve back to the boat or shoreline until it reaches shallow areas that are near where you're fishing from.
This is often done using downriggers which allow you to set two lines at different depths; one on the bottom of 100-200 feet and another 200-300 feet below that (depending on what depth zone your lures are designed for). Once your line has reached its desired location, slowly pull up while reeling in slack as needed so that just enough line goes through the rod guides without tangling around them.
What Is A Good Trolling Speed For Salmon?
Trolling speed should generally not exceed three knots (one knot equals one nautical mile per hour.
A general rule of thumb for a good trolling speed is to plan on going one-third as fast as the wind or current. This means that if it's five knots of wind out on the water, you should be trolling at two and a half knots per hour.
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What Depth Do You Troll For Salmon?
The depth also plays an important role in determining what speed your boat can handle while staying under control with minimal drag from waves and currents. Typically deep-water salmon are found in depths over 100 feet (30 m) but they will come up shallower during migration when rivers get shallow due to runoff - which could happen any time of year! A sudden shift like this would force you to increase your boat speed temporarily until you find deeper waters again. You'll need plenty.
If you're trolling in deep water, around 100 feet (30 m) or more depth at the time of year that salmon are moving upriver to spawn - typically September and October depending on location - your speed can be a little slower. But when they come shallower during migration, which is often any time of year since rivers get shallow due to runoff from melting snow and rainstorms, you'll need plenty of boat power under control so you don't stall out while waiting for them to resurface again. You may have no choice but to slow down temporarily until you find deeper waters.
What Is Back Trolling For Salmon?
Back trolling is a method of fishing for salmon that involves dragging the lure along the bottom of the water, while continuously paying out the line. The technique requires strong baitcasting rods and reels capable of casting with heavy baits to substantial depths.
Back troll lures are usually a metal spoon, jig, or spinnerbait rigged on an offset weight-forward hook attached to an 80lb test braided line which is connected to 150ft long monofilament leaders (tippet).
Techniques can also include using downriggers as well as drift boats in conjunction with back trolling.
How Do You Fish A Downrigger For Salmon?
A downrigger is a device used for fishing where the line and hook are lowered to the desired depth below the waterline. Typically, it consists of one or two arms that hold a length of rope with hooks at either end. A fish will bite on the bait when it swims by and pulls hard enough on both lines (which are connected to an opposite side) to create slack in them, which then tightens as they pull back up again due to their weight. The result is a solid tug that can be felt from the shore if cast properly alongshore into deeper water far away from other anglers who might snag your rod!
Salmon downrigging can be a bit more specific than just swinging a long line and bait out in the water. Knowing how to fish with it can give you an advantage over other anglers who might not have as much experience or specialized gear!
Establish your retrieval speed: If you know where salmon are actively feeding, position yourself accordingly so that when they bite on your hook, they will be drawn up to the surface quickly once hooked. By reeling fast enough during the fight, many steelheads may be pulled before realizing what has happened! Faster speeds will also make fighting them easier since there is more slack for their weight at any given time than slower reels which don't allow nearly as much room for error. You should experiment with different retrieval rates until you feel comfortable using this new technique.
Set your depth: Some rivers have a shallower dropoff than others meaning you should adjust the depth at which you are trolling based on what is best for that particular time. This can be done by adjusting the lead in front of your lure or using different weights to find out how far down salmon will suspend themselves and feed. You may want to experiment with this, too until it becomes easy since there's no right answer when it comes to this!
Back troll fish into back eddies where they'll feel more comfortable eating while still being near enough to pull them up from deep water if hooked after losing interest in other baitfish: Back trolled lines allow anglers an opportunity to work their way upstream (or downstream), which can be weird because the fish are facing downstream.
Downrigger for salmon: A piece of equipment that is attached to your fishing rod which allows you to suspend a lure or bait at different depths in order to attract and catch more fish.
Salmon trolling setup: The process of preparing yourself for fishing by making sure all necessary items such as rods, reels, lures, outboard motor (for larger boats), etc., are ready beforehand so they can be used immediately when needed. It also includes setting up lines on the boat if using live bait rather than artificial ones like plugs/jigs.
Trolling For Salmon Without Downriggers
Salmon trolling can be done with either downriggers or without them. There are pros and cons to both methods:
Downriggers - The most popular way of salmon trolling is using a pair of downriggers, attached by rigs that come up from the bottom beneath your boat's keel. When you slow your boat in order to troll near the seabed, these devices will drop away; when you speed up again, they'll re-engage themselves automatically at their proper depth. This method allows you to fish more quickly than other approaches because it takes less time for lines to sink back into position after being drawn out following a strike on the lure.
No Downriggers - Some anglers prefer not using any because they feel that it's more difficult to control the bait with this approach. With no downriggers, you must keep your boat moving at a slow trolling speed in order for the line to sink back into position after being drawn out from fighting a fish on the lure. This means you have more control over the bait, but you're forced to fish at a slower pace.
The Back Trolling Method is used when fishing near the shoreline or in shallow water where your boat probably won't be able to go out very far from land and still reach deeper depths of the ocean - which often means that you'll need some type of downrigger for this approach.
Salmon Trolling Setup
A trolling setup is essential to salmon fishing. This includes a rod, reel, and lure or bait that you use to fish for the type of salmon that you would like to catch. Without these three key components, there are no catches!
For example, if I want to find coho in my location but am unaware of their preferred depth preference when they're feeding on prey at different times during the daytime/nighttime hours - it's pointless without any information about what gear they prefer (depth preferences).
If I'm using a downrigger with an anchor system attached so as not only keep me stationary over this area where I know they'll be found but also stay within range of them naturally throughout the day- then all I need to do is match my lure or bait with the depths and times of day that I know they'll be feeding.
In other words, if you're a fisherman and want to catch coho in your location- then all you need is downrigger gear for them!
The only thing left to do now waits patiently until sunset when they start to feed on prey - which means it's time to reel up any slack line so as not to scare off those fish waiting out there for their next meal! If done right, this will result in catching many within an hour after starting trolling during evening hours around dusk/nighttime hours. This can also work at different depths of water once fishermen understand how depth preferences vary from one type of salmon to another.
I'll typically start fishing from about a foot below the surface of the water to around 20 feet deep, and then gradually get deeper as I understand more about depth preferences for each type of salmon. Once again, in my area coho are found at depths between 12 and 15 feet so I always target this range!
What's also important to note is that even if fish aren't feeding right now they might be doing it later on when you're trolling. In other words, don't stop too soon, or else there will most likely be another opportunity tomorrow morning; just keep going until dark hours have passed without any catches coming aboard your boat - chances are good that some salmon got caught up in something like shrimp off the far line and are now hanging out in the area waiting to feed.
Also, if you're lucky enough to be fishing with a knowledgeable guide who knows where fish might hang out or where they've been caught before then use this information. I always check my GPS and depth finder for any tells that show recent activity - things like schools of baitfish, birds diving into the water, large boulders on the bottom at certain depths...
Salmon Trolling Rig
The final component to the salmon trolling rig is a long shank hook. You need this so that you can attach different lures and baits onto it when needed. The longer the length of your rod, the better chance you'll have at catching fish with even just small movements on your part as opposed to shortening up the line ’cause then they won't be able to see any movement from very far away and will pass by without being caught if they're not interested in what's going on above them.
I recommend getting one that has a good balance between strength for bigger fish but also flexibility so smaller ones don't get snagged easily either. In my opinion, most hooks are pretty well made these days but there are a few brands that stand out just due to experience and how they're manufactured.
The knot I usually use is a Palomar knot or the Improved Clinch Knot but feel free to experiment with other types of knots as well if you want! There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can teach you different methods for tying any type of fishing line onto your hook, so have fun learning some new tricks and skills when it comes time to tie up all those lures - something else most people don't think about because it's not always easy especially in cold water climates where coats come off easily enough.
A flasher is used just above the hook or a spinner to help attract the fish. These are typically made from tin or aluminum and there's a variety of shapes and sizes, so choose what works best for your fishing needs!
Salmon Trolling Rods
A salmon trolling rod does not need to be expensive. Most of the time, you will want a medium-length rod that is between eight and ten feet in length. The difference between an eight-footer and a nine- or ten-footer is negligible when it comes to fishing for salmon because they are usually deeper than six feet below the surface. However, if you troll on more shallow waters, then go with the longer one so as to have some reach over your head while standing up. It would also come in handy with catching those pesky lakers (lake trout).
As far as where you should put your money, invest first into a good quality reel seat before getting anything else such as guides or grips. They can make the difference between a rod working well for you or not. A good quality reel seat will last longer and save on your money in the long run.
An inexpensive model is usually only built to be used once before it needs replacing, whereas a high-quality one can take many years of use with very little wear and tear.
You need to find something that has both comfort and durability. The more comfortable grip means less fatigue when using your fishing gear all day; still, try to test them out first because some are just too rough on their hands while others have nice indentations which help provide traction even during wet weather conditions. If you're looking at trolling rods specifically, then go with those made from graphite rather than fiberglass as they will provide much more power.
You'll also want to find a fishing rod that is the right size for you, so make sure it's not too heavy or lightweight and has just enough flex when pulling back on your line. If you're looking for something cheap but still with a little bit of quality then try getting one made from fiberglass; they will be much cheaper than graphite rods while still being able to handle some wear and tear if necessary over time without breaking easily.
Salmon Trolling Reels
There are three types of reels that you will need for salmon trolling. A traditional, level-wind spinning reel with a large spool is best if you’re going to be doing anything from saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing alike.
If the water is more fresh than salty, or your favorite fish happens to live in rivers as opposed to oceans (or vice versa!), then a baitcasting reel might suit your needs better.
Finally, there’s another type called an open face spinning reel which can be used on both freshwater and ocean waters--this one is mostly preferred by those who do long distance and/or deep-sea trolling because it has less friction against the line when reeling up so they don’t have to worry about line breakages.
Salmon Trolling Lures
The lures used can be spoons, plugs, or spinners made out of metal, wood, or plastic that are put on a hallow "jig head" attached to an artificial retrievable hook that has been threaded onto a monofilament line. Small lead weights may also be added to help sink them faster. They are often jigs but sometimes they include bright colors like white and red as well as natural-looking colors like green and brown so they look more realistic in water - perfect for catching salmon!
Some of the more popular salmon trolling lures are:
The spinning lure is considered to be more versatile than other types of lures because they can easily be fished at different depths. This makes them perfect for fishing over deep reefs that are difficult to get into. They also have a lively action that attracts fish better than any other type of lure so it may even entice salmon out from under the rocks!
Salmon Trolling Spoons
You will find a large number of spoons available on the market but the ones that are great for salmon are those which are attached to a wire leader. There is also the option of fishing with downriggers at specific depths, this will help with retrieving your lure in case it snags on something and you can't pull it up by hand.
A spoon trolling rig for salmon involves attaching two spoons to one line that has been pre-wrapped around a lead core or weight sinker so when they bounce off waves they'll appear as if there are more than two lures out there! The best way to fish is usually just below the surface where salmon reside most often but you can always experiment by going deeper or shallower like 20' deep for coho salmon during their offshore migration period.
Salmon Trolling Flies
Salmon trolling rigs are not limited to lures and spoons. In fact, many anglers primarily use flies for salmon fishing with great success. The most popular fly is the pink or chartreuse Clouser Minnow because it has a long tail that easily reaches out into deeper water where fish may be lurking in wait. Other flies used for salmon trolling include:
For experienced fishermen who have been successful using these types of flies as well as regular fly fishing flies like the Pheasant Tail, Elk Hair Caddis, Golden Stone Nymph and Adams Fly for salmon trolling
It is important to attach a colored bobber or lead weight so that you can see what depth your rig is at. An indicator rod serves this purpose well because it has a long telescoping handle with interchangeable hooks on one end which can be lowered into deeper water while keeping an eye on it from the surface of the water until fish are hooked. If these flies fail to attract any salmon in spite of all efforts then switching over to spoons will surely pay off.
Salmon Trolling Gear
Now that we have thoroughly talked about rods, reels, lures and the rig what else is needed to go salmon trolling? Well, you need a lot of different gear and we are going to get into that here in this section.
First off, let's talk about safety gear. You may not think it is necessary but there have been many reported injuries from fishing alone so please take my word for it: buy some good quality waders before any other piece of equipment!
Next up is your tackle box which should hold all the items you will use when salmon trolling like hooks, weights, swivels and leaders.
There are also several accessories that I recommend including waterproof gloves or rubber gloves because wet hands can't feel what they're doing on those tiny lures.
Ear plugs are great if you want to cut way down on background noise while out fishing or possibly a Bluetooth headset to listen to some music
Polarized glasses are good if you have the opportunity to see some action under the water and can get some quick hits while trolling.
If you're going to be out on the water for extended periods of time or fishing during daylight hours it's important that your clothes reflect those conditions with functioning layers like a weather-resistant jacket and pants, wool socks (not cotton), and gloves/mittens. You should also make sure they fit well so there aren't any gaps where cold air could get through plus insulated boots which typically come up over your ankles will help keep your feet warm too.
Sunscreen should be readily available because you are sitting in an open boat with the sun hitting you from above and reflecting off the water. You will get an even tan, but you will end up looking like a cooked goose.
Additionally, if you want to use electronics when salmon trolling then you should have a designated area for them that is protected from the elements. In order to protect your devices from water, you should keep them in sealed bags or cases and place them inside a zippered bag before tucking that into an empty camera case with a couple of foam noodles on top.