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Written By: Cal Kellogg, March 12, 2012
Kokanee can be as fickle as a prom queen confronted with a room full of suitors. One day they want this lure tomorrow they’ll want something else. This morning you’ve got to be pulling a purple lure, but this afternoon they’ll only hit pink. And of course if you don’t have your hooks tipped with corn they won’t hit at all…maybe?
This is reason that when you look at a serious kokanee anglers tackle selection it looks like a going out of business sale at the Pastel Colored Lure Factory! Having said that, amid the bugs and flies, darts and spoons that make up the average kokanee anglers arsenal, there are a few key lures that you absolutely must have for fishing waters in Northern California and beyond, because they consistently put fish in the boat.
The first is the Hot Spot Kokanee Special. The Kokanee Special is basically an Apex Lure designed with kokanee in mind. Master kokanee angler Phil Johnson helped the folks at Hot Spot develop this bait and it is a real producer. At the center of its effectiveness is its unique tandem hook arrangement.
Kokanee with their soft mouths are notorious for shaking hooks. The Kokanee Special employs two red chemically sharpened Gamakatsu octopus hooks that are snelled from ¼ to ½ inch apart. When these super sharp hooks are combined with the unique Apex rigging that allows the Apex blade/body to slide up its leader leverage is taken away from the kokanee. When a kokanee is hooked on a traditional spoon, it can shake it’s head against the weight of the lure and get the hook loose. This doesn’t happen with the Kokanee Special. The harder the kokanee shakes it’s head the further the lure body slides up the leader.
Between the hooks and the body of the lure, the Kokanee Special sports a pair of glow beads. These beads might seem like a trivial detail, but they are an important strike triggering factor when trolling during periods of low light or in deep water.
For most light conditions or depths Kokanee Specials in Hot Pink, Flame Orange or Kokanee Red produce well. These finishes have high fluorescence on their backs for bright light conditions, while the bellies are glow in the dark for low light conditions or deep water fishing.
For bright days when the fish are in the top 15 feet of the water column the Flame Sparkle finish is good since it has high fluorescence on both sides with added sparkle.
When the day is overcast and the fish are holding in water that is 60 feet deep or less Chartreuse or Chrome FishScale are proven producers. These colors represent a general guideline, but you’ll want to experiment to see which of the 16 available Kokanee Special colors work best for you.
Kokanee Specials can be fished with or without the addition of a dodger. With most lures it is advisable to put the lure very near the dodger when targeting kokanee. This is not something you’ll want to do with Kokanee Specials since being rigged too close to a dodger will kill their action. Simply go with the full length leader that comes with the lure and you won’t have any problems.
Okay that takes care of the first lure, but what is the second kokanee lure you should never leave home without? Well it’s a familiar name to trout and kokanee anglers here in the Golden State. It is the one and only Uncle Larry’s Spinner.
Uncle Larry’s offers all sorts of different spinners. Some are geared for trout and some are intended for kokanee. The trout models will catch kokanee, but if you are targeting kokanee exclusively, you’ll want to stick with models from the Glow Series and the Glow Tiger Series.
Glow Series spinners have Uncle Larry's special glow-in-the-dark beads along with high quality beads with 12 coats of custom paint. Try using these Glow Lures with a piece of shoepeg corn for great results. The Glow Series comes in 8 different colors.
The Glow Tiger series boasts a full range of color and pattern combinations. Uncle Larry's special Tiger lures are right up at the pinnacle of kokanee lure development.
The special Glow Tigers have glow blades that are custom painted, and the blades are crystal coated too. The special glow-in-the-dark beads add even more fish attraction. These special Tiger lures are excellent for kokanee. You’ll want Glow Tigers in a number of different colors to match the temperament of the kokanee at any given time. My favorites are Glow Bloody Tiger, Glow Hot Belly, Glow Pink Tiger and the ever-popular Mad Irishman.
So why are spinners so attractive to kokanee and why are Uncle Larry’s spinners so good? While no one knows for sure, I think it is vibration that attracts kokanee to spinners and ultimately prompts them to strike. Kokanee hit spinners exceptionally hard and that seems to indicate that they are striking them out of aggression. I think color and glow are factors that close the deal and allow the salmon to zero in on the offering at the moment before the strike.
The reputation of Uncle Larry’s spinners as being hardcore kokanee catchers was built on the fact that ‘kokes will often hit Uncle Larry’s spinners when they refuse everything else. The effectiveness of Uncle Larry’s spinners is mainly due to the great attention to detail that goes into building them. Every lure utilizes quality hardware, top quality beads and the models that are painted utilize multiple coats of the highest quality paint. Finally each lure is tipped with a pair of super sharp hooks.
In terms of effectiveness and the amount of work that goes into each lure, Uncle Larry’s spinners are a real bargain. For more information about Hot Spots Kokanee Specials you can check them out on the web at hotspotlures.com For information about Uncle Larry’s spinners visit them on the web at unclelarryslures.com.
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