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Fishing with Dodgers

By: Mark Wiza

Techniques Index

You've seen them in the store, next to all the other bizarre trolling attractors, those big spinning blades with names like "Ford Fenders" and "Cousin Carl's Half Fast Flashers" (try saying that ten times half fast).

I've witnessed tourists here at the local tackle shop looking in bewilderment and asking, "Where's the hook?" or "How the heck do you cast that thing?" Well there ain't and you don't, my friends. Trolling attractors, originally developed for salmon fishing, are now used commonly for trout trolling in lakes throughout the west. A lure or bait on a hook is tied to a leader behind this jewelry, and the flashing metal blades attract trout which then attack your counterfeit, as they would prey on the slowest minnow in the school. Northern California anglers are quite familiar with these lures, and in my hometown of South Lake Tahoe, flashers and a minnow is about as close as you can get to a sure thing for mackinaw trout. They're even available in the local supermarkets and drugstores, but if you look between the rows of three to five blade spinner rigs, you might spot packages of single large, thin metal spoons as well, and these are my favorite- "The Dodgers."

A dodger does what it says, it dodges. Left to right and back again, it drives trout crazy with the evasive maneuvers of a panicked baitfish. Drawn to the pulsating flash of silver or gold colored metal, fish chase and strike the trailing bait or lure as with they do with the flashers. Unlike the flashers, though, which pull whatever is behind them in a straight line, dodgers can actually cause the bait itself to dodge from side to side as well. This action can take fish when ordinary flashers, as well as lures or bait, simply are not producing.

The two keys to dodger fishing are trolling speed and leader length. If a dodger is trolled too fast, it will begin to spin, twisting your line and losing the action it is designed for. A dodger at boatside should be seen to kick from side to side in the water without turning over at trolling speed, and a dodger let out well behind the boat should produce a distinct, two beat rhythm, or "cha-cha" in your rod tip. In addition, the ability of the dodger to impart action to your lure depends upon a short leader. As the attractor blade swings to each side, it pulls your bait to and fro as well, and a leader much over two feet will nullify this action even in the largest dodgers. Now, I have no doubt that some people catch fish with dodgers on the same long, three to six foot leaders that are often used for flashers, but then they are relying solely on the attracting flash to draw in trout, not on that seductive zig -zag.

Techniques Index


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