Trolling Saltwater Spoons For Salmon

With salmon fishing being one of the most popular of all saltwater sports, we would love the opportunity to give you the means to plan a productive trip trolling saltwater spoons for a monster King salmon or Coho. With the daily changes in weather and water conditions though, choosing a system that works, can be a difficult trick that may produce fish for you year after year if chosen properly!

Dragging Spoons behind a saltwater boat covers tons of water and has been among the top methods of fishing for Coho and Spring salmon. Although these saltwater lures are a very effective way to catch salmon, a great fisherman will always know that to be successful, means knowing when where and how to change your lure to ambush these guys and have a successful day on the water!

You can find our entire selection of casting and trolling spoons here

Put all of these together and you will soon find that your ploy to be an unbeatable angler will be long lived. Don’t get to hasty though! Some fishermen angle for years without mastering these techniques and if they did their research on understanding fish in their habitats and how their environment effects feeding habits, they would waste less time on the water working from trial and error!

Knowing When Where:

First lets talk about weather or the when and where, as it’s probably your primary strategy to being at the right place at the right time. As the day changes and the tide rolls in and out changing the level of ocean water, it brings in and pulls out sea life and creates the most activity when it comes to aquatic feeding. It’s because of this condition that salmon become very active making for a very productive approach to finding them in periods of changing tides.

Fishing in Tides:

A great way to learn about the oceans peak fishing times, is to learn the process of tides and light and how they effect what techniques you should choose to become a great salmon spoon troller. A rule of thumb regarding tide is that – one hour before until one hour after tide change is the best time to fish for active salmon who are feeding on baitfish.

So if we look at tide by definition, we know that a tide is the rise and fall of ocean waters and its inlets, produced by the attraction (or gravity) of the moon and sun, and occurs about every 12 hours. With that said, every 24 hours there are two highs of the tide and two lows, which means two of those tide changes are during daylight hours which is great news for those of you who don’t want to fish in the dark! If you were looking at a tide chart for the optimum tide to go “trawling” with your buds, you would see low slack – the time of change, flood – the run in of water, high slack – another change, ebb – the run out and then finally back to low slack to complete the cycle.

Quick Tip:

It’s easier to cross sand bars and estuaries when the tide is high making it easier to get to that “prime” spot!

It’s important to understand that if the changes in the tide are minute, say 3-8 feet from high tide to low tide, both baitfish and salmon will still be feeding and fairly active during the entire period of the cycle in rip tides, eddies or open water. If you want tons of fish though, the best and most productive method is to troll for about 3 hours with intensity, before and during slack tide when the baitfish are the most active and salmon don’t have to spend their energy fighting currents while in pursuit of baitfish.

Quick Tips:

For USA tide schedules in your area, check out Ocean Service
For Canadian tide schedules in your area, visit the Canadian Fisheries and Oceans Service

Time, Light and Spoons:

Let’s have a look at the second most important weather factor that determines the productivity of saltwater fishing; light. Many anglers who to freshwater trolling or gear fishing know that the best time to be out on the river with your gear is first light or just before dusk. Well the same can be said for trolling gear on a boat for salmon.

Being a stealthy fisherman has always been a quality that many anglers go to no end for and these periods of low light help with any fishing tactics. When you combine times of low light with tide change, you’re laughin’! The fluttering or wobbling back and forth of the spoon in low light among other active baitfish is very confusing to salmon and will catch you the most fish.

How To Pick a Spoon:

Spoons are made in many shapes, sizes and weights for saltwater salmon fishing but have basically the same purpose – to simulate baitfish. Baitfish such as herring are the primary food source for salmon and spoons are meant to copy their movements and characteristics.

As a spoon is trolled through the water at slow speeds, it wobbles from side to side looking much like a wounded herring. At higher speeds that produce a jetting action without creating a full spinning movement – which is extremely crucial – the spoon will simulate a baitfish in distress.

It’s important to understand that color constantly changes in water that is effected by clarity, movement and light. All of these factors have an effect on what spoon will work in what conditions and unless you’re down there it can be very hard to choose the right one! Sometimes choosing the right one will even fail if conditions change, at which time you should quickly move to another spoon. If after some time a spoon that has produced for you already is no longer working and conditions seem to be the same, it can sometimes be as simple as checking your rig for snags, tangled line or anything else unnatural that may spook the fish.

Flashers and dodgers are two other ways to attract fish. Both are set up before the spoon and require a longer leader in order to be effective. A flasher simply creates another rolling type lure that helps to get a salmons attention when trolling deep with a downrigger, where a dodger is also used with a downrigger in deep water and creates a distressed baitfish simulation.

Quick Tip:

I like blue and green for Chinook and Coho as they are very similar to natural baitfish colors and are visible in both high and low light to salmon.

How To Find Salmon On The Ocean:

Well a fish finder is always good, but if you don’t have one or you still can’t see the buggers on the screen, try looking for birds and baitfish activity! Surface birds and diving birds such as seagulls, are dead giveaways of active baitfish that are in 10-100 feet below the waters surface and where there’s baitfish, there is a strong possibility of salmon.

Kelp bed fringes are another great place where many baitfish hangout and attract larger predatorial fish such as salmon, but one of my favorite hangouts is along rips and foam lines where currents meet each other and seem to swirl food around almost pushing food right in-front of a salmon. These areas of high feed concentration will make finding fish allot more effective.

It’s important that you’re trolling along side or with the current as fish are constantly struggling to fight it and/or waiting for food to just move past them, as long as the speed isn’t ridiculously fast like it can get in parts of some estuaries. This technique will also visibly present your lure to the salmon for a longer period of time as they can obviously see further in-front of them rather than behind. Remember that the advantage to trolling is the water covered and moving against the current will effect how much water you cover in a day, so as long as you’re not cookin’ too fast always troll with the current!

How To Fish Spoons For Coho

Coho like the top part of the thermocline – mentioned on the general tips and techniques page – from the surface down to about 30 feet of water. They are very swift and like to chase aggressive looking baitfish and therefore like aggressive looking spoons. Dodgers are a great addition to an aggressive spoon as they too are an aggressive lure and provide a bit more action that will entice a Coho. Coho are often found near kelp beds and during times of low light, can be found near the surface or rip lines feeding on baitfish.

Colors that Coho seem to like are any combination of chrome and blue, gold, green or red.

Chinook Salmon Spoons:

Chinook or King are often in deeper water than Coho and because of their size, go for larger slower spoons. Most anglers have good luck catching them from 60-120 feet during any time of day although first light and dawn are still the fav’s for the big smileys. I like blue, green and chrome for Springs or any combination of the three and find them to be the most productive spoon colors for this species of salmon.

Dodgers and flashers work well for Spring Kings as well as long as you troll them slowly. One way to accomplish this is to have a long leader – about 2-1/2 feet long which will slow the lures into a nice wobble.

So be safe out there! Go with someone who knows their stuff and always check the weather yourself even if you’re going to be trolling saltwater spoons for salmon with an experienced angler.

Until then, keep your hooks razor sharp, send me some cool fishing pics for me to post for you and check out our article on downrigging!