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Written By: Cal Kellogg, January 3, 2014
Fishing is like a lot of situations in life in that there are often multiple answers that are right and wrong and what’s doing the job today, isn’t necessarily going to fill the bill tomorrow.
As anglers we understand this rule thoroughly, yet at times we ignore it and fall into a rut as a result. No matter what type of fishing you think of, the best anglers are the ones that are able to use a broad range of approaches in order to adapt to the conditions at hand.
I think a lot of anglers that troll for trout and salmon in our inland lakes are locked in a “speed rut” and are catching fewer fish then they could if they’d just broaden their horizons a bit.
Over the years a lot of trollers have adopted the attitude that slower is better. Most trollers putter along between 1 and 2 mph and if kokanee are on the menu that range draws down even more to 1 to 1.5.
Okay I recognize that there is a reason for this. When the fishing is tough, a super slow presentation is often the best option. I also understand that most trolling gear is designed to work best at these speeds. But what also needs to be recognized is that the fishing isn’t always tough, sometimes the fish are active and chasing. And we can’t loose sight of the fact that trout and salmon can swim upwards of 13 mph. They can and will run up and smack a lure moving at 4 mph without breaking a sweat.
Wait a second…do fish sweat? How would you know it’s all wet down there? But you see where I’m going.
I’ll concede that a nice slow troll is the correct answer at times, but at other times I’m convinced that you’ll catch far more fish if you do your trolling from the fast lane. Let’s learn how!
I typically start such discussions with a description of the tackle before moving onto terminal tackle and things like lures. Well, I’m switching gears in this case and we’ll start off looking at some different lures.
It is true that most trout and salmon trolling gear is design for a slow to moderate speed presentation. When you start thinking about speeds from 2.5 mph and up, your choices narrow quite a bit, but the lures that are available are highly effective.
One of the most effective and certainly the most famous fast trolling lure around is the Rapala. There’s a long list of other minnow plugs that work great, but Rapalas are the most beloved of the bunch.
While minnow plugs are an obvious choice for fast trolling, many of us overlook a small array of spoons, both new and old that can make things happen on a fast troll.
The most famous and most readily available of these spoons is the venerable Speedy Shiner. Of course the name of this spoon alone is enough to tip you off that this is a high-speed offering.
“The “Speedy Shiner” style of lure appears to date back to the 1960s,” says Peter Ridd of Thomas Lures, makers of the Speedy Shiner. “The lure probably originated in Maine. Back in those days a lot of companies were turning out spinning gear. It was customary then to offer a line of lures to go with your gear. The Speedy Shiner style lure was knocked off by a lot of different companies and there have been a lot of slightly different configurations of the spoon we market today.”
Lining up right behind the Speedy Shiner in terms of availability is the Hum Dinger. Not the little one, which is a fine trout spoon to be sure, but the big ½ ounce model that is constructed of thick heavy metal.
Rounding out the pack is a pair of lures designed by James Pagani. Pagani’s lures can be hard to find in stores, but they can be found at his website http://www.sparklefish.com.
The centerpiece of Pagani’s lineup is the Sparkle Fish. There is a smaller version of the Sparklefish dubbed the Golden Eye. These lures have a great reputation in the Mother Lode region, but they’ll work anywhere a fast presentation is called for.
I think color is less important when trolling quickly then when moving slowly. If water clarity is anywhere near decent, I like to go with natural colored lures. That means chromes paired with hues of blue or purple for spoons. With minnow plugs, the same combos work well as does rainbow trout.
If the water clarity is poor, super bright stuff like fluorescent orange or firetiger can give you an edge.
When the light level is low either early or late or when the sky is overcast, black can be an absolutely deadly color that few anglers ever think to try.
When it’s time to break the speed barrier, dodgers and flashers are only going to slow you down. Most dodgers will begin spinning at around 2 mph, while with a few designs such as the Shasta Tackle Sling Blade you can push your upper limit speed up to about 3.
At times I’ll use a Sling Blade, generally a 6 inch model when trolling quickly, but the vast majority of the time I run my lures alone.
I refer to anything over 2.5 mph as fast trolling. When I decide that it’s time for fast trolling that means I’ll be working the 2.5 to 5 mph range. Obviously fast trolling is an aggressive approach used to draw strikes from aggressive fish that are actively feeding.
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