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Written By: Cal Kellogg, March 13, 2012
We all have our favorite trout, kokanee and landlocked king salmon lures. Generally these lures are our favorites, because we’ve had success on them in the past, yet most anglers I know don’t spend a whole lot of time reflecting on why trout and salmon hit a given lure.
Trout and salmon use two primary senses to zero in on forage items. First they employ their vision to see potential prey. Beyond their vision, the lateral line, a strip of sensitive nerve tissue that runs the length of the fish’s flank on either side, picks up vibrations created by baitfish and other organisms and leads trout and salmon to them.
With this in mind lets take a look at some lures and products that are must have items for serious trout and salmon enthusiasts. Some of the products well look at a brand new while others have been around for quite a while. When it comes to trout and salmon fishing I employ a wide range of lures and baits, but as anyone that reads the Fish Sniffer regularly knows, many of my go to baits are produced by the Shasta Tackle Company.
Gary Miralles of Shasta Tackle is an innovative lure designer that is always seeking to upgrade his line of lures and products in order to provide anglers with cutting edge gear enabling them to catch more and larger fish.
Sling Blade dodgers, Cripplures and Hum Dingers are the most popular lures in the Shasta Tackle lineup and have achieved a legendary status among West Coast anglers.
While the design and action of Gary’s dodgers and lures haven’t changed since they originally hit the market, their colors and finishes have been constantly updated.
Recently, as part of Shasta Tackle’s pledge to stay on the cutting edge, Gary has developed a full line of Ultraviolet (UV) dodgers and lures.
Ultraviolet light is a part of the light spectrum that is not visible to humans, but is visible to most fish including trout and salmon. In shallow water the various colors of our standard finished lures stand out well, but as you descend in the water column and the light level dims, lures with standard finishes loose their luster and at a certain point they all take on a dull grey hard to see appearance. This is where UV finishes come into play.
According to researchers, ultraviolet light penetrates from 700 to 1,000 feet deep or deeper depending on water clarity. This is far deeper than the visible light that us humans see penetrates. UV finish when applied to dodgers and lures allows them to concentrate and reflect ultraviolet light. This means that the angler that uses UV finish lures can rest assured that their offerings will be distinctly visible to the fish at even the deepest depths.
Both trout and salmon enthusiasts will find the Shasta Tackle lineup of UV dodgers and lures useful. At the top of the list are the new 4 and 6 inch UV Sling Blade dodgers. They have the same slim profile that tracks true at high speeds without rolling as standard slings. Most of the new UV slings also exhibit the standard herringbone pattern strip of reflective tape in colors such as blue, green and pink just like a standard sling. The difference is that rather than the reflective tape being attached directly to the dodger a large area of UV tape is applied to the dodger first and then the reflective tape is applied over the top of that, resulting in a dodger that really stands when trolled beyond the 50 foot mark.
I’ve done a bit of kokanee fishing with the new UV Sling Blades and I’ve enjoyed good success. I can’t wait to try them on kings. My favorite king salmon dodger is a pink Sling Blade with glow tape on it, but I think the UV Sling Blade will be even better.
For trouters Shasta Tackle is offering an array of UV Hum Dingers and Cripplures. These lures were deadly before and now they come in UV. What more can I say……?
Ocean salmon have a real soft spot for hoochies and the same can be said for the sockeyes and kings that reside in our inland reservoirs. Over the years hoochies have become one of my most reliable offerings for fooling kings and ‘kokes. For kings I like a blue or purple hoochie, while pink is my hands down choice for kokanee.
Shasta Tackle’s line of hoochies, dubbed Pee Wees has been expanded to include UV colors including favorites such as blue, purple, pink, green and flame orange. These baits have already proven to be deadly on kokanee holding in deep water. For example, during a recent trip to New Melones Reservoir my father in law Gene Rush busted a 19 plus inch ‘koke on a pink UV Pee Wee.
Pushing the hoochie concept a step further, Miralles has developed an intriguing bait that should be deadly on both kings a trout. He calls it a PPK. It is a 1.5 inch UV Pee Wee rigged on a leader with a large willow leaf spinner blade and it’s armed with a unique double point hook. I haven’t tried this bait yet, but it looks like a real winner. The PPK comes in colors such as orange, blue, pink, purple, green and rainbow.
Having looked at some of the new offering on the trout and salmon scene that appeal to a fish’s vision. Let’s consider a tried and true lineup of baits that create the perfect vibration for attracting the attention of trout, kings and sockeyes by way of their lateral lines. If you haven’t already guessed I’m talking about Uncle Larry’s spinners.
For a long time, I seldom if ever trolled with a spinner. Sure I had them in my tackle box, but they weren’t one of my confidence baits. I only put them on when the fish weren’t biting, didn’t catch anything after a few minutes and took them back off. These days’ things have changed. While I still don’t use them a great deal while trout fishing, I’ve been using spinners, more specifically, Uncle Larry’s spinner a lot while fishing in kokanee tournaments. As far as kokanee fishing goes, Uncle Larry’s spinners are absolutely essential.
My favorite color is all pink, but as fickle as ‘kokes can be in terms of color I always have fire tiger chartreuse, blue and pink on hand as well as a selection of spinners with plain metallic blades.
If standard Uncle Larry’s spinners are not working don’t be afraid to take them apart and put them back together in different ways. I took fourth place in the Project Kokanee derby at Lake Berryessa while trolling a pair of pink spinners I’d strung together on a single leader.
I’m running short on time, but there is one more bait from Uncle Larry’s that I’ve got to mention. It’s dubbed the Mini B Glowing Squid Spinner System. The bait consists of a small rubber squid teamed with a tiny Indiana style spinner blade. This bait is deadly on king salmon. Sometimes I team it with a Sling Blade and at other times I run it naked without any type of attractor. Pearl or clear/blue flake are my favorite colors, but orange and chartreuse are worth trying too!
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