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Written By: Cal Kellogg, March 13, 2012
I’m not the greatest fisherman in the world. Heck I know a bunch of anglers that are better than me. The one thing I do have going for me from a fishing standpoint is that I’m a student of the sport. I’m always looking for more information about fishing and every time I hit the water I try to learn something new.
One of the cool things about writing for the Fish Sniffer is that I get to fish a lot, often in the company of super talented guides and anglers. I learn a lot from these guys and as folks that read the Jackson Rancheria how to column know, I pass a lot of this information onto my readers.
Since this issue of the Fish Sniffer includes the Trout and Kokanee Journal this is a great time to outline a few tricks I’ve learned over the past year or so that will definitely help you put more trout, kokanee and kings in the box this season.
Last spring I fished Stampede Reservoir with Vance Staplin of Vance’s Tackle. Vance’s offers a full line of trout and kokanee gear including some deadly spoons called Sockeye Slammers. We were fishing for kokanee and Vance was running his gear. As he was taking a small Slammer out of its package he told me he wanted to show me something.
“Whenever you are using a small spoon whether it’s one of mine or from someone else, you’ll notice that the gap of the hook is pretty small when the lure comes out of the package,” Vance related. For small lures to work they have to be equipped with a light hook. Typically a long shank, light wire hook with a small gap is used. You can land a lot of fish using these hooks, but you’ll land even more if you take a few minutes to reshape the hook so that it has a larger gap.”
As I watched, Vance used a needle nose to straighten the bend of the hook substantially. He then worked his way along the shank and reformed the bend such that gap was increased. As a final touch he gave the bend of the hook a little twist to offset the hook point from the shank for increased hooking ability.
I just picked up a bunch of small Dick Nite’s and the first thing I did was modify the hooks. I can’t wait to show them to some kokanee! Trolling leadcore line using a heavy meat stick rod is an outdated approach what with the widespread availability of downriggers, right? I will admit that this thought has run through my mind from time to time, but before concluding that leadcore is dead, consider the modified light leadcore rig I started experimenting with a couple months ago.
For a rod and reel it utilizes a soft action 7 foot Shasta Tackle fiberglass casting rod teamed with an old red Abu Garcia 6600 casting reel. I filled the reel with 250 yards of 8 pound CXX P-Line. I linked the P-Line to 3 colors of leadcore and connected an 18 foot section of 15 pound test fluorocarbon to the other end of the leadcore. To the 15 pound test I attached a swivel and to the other end of the swivel I tied a 4 foot section of 10 pound test fluorocarbon as a leader. I played with several different knots for linking the mono and floro to the leadcore, but method I’m about to described was not only the simplest, but also formed an extremely smooth connection that travels through the eyes of the rod without a hitch.
To make the connection, worm the woven sheath of the leadcore back and expose the lead wire inside. When you’ve got about 3 inches of the lead exposed, clip it off and then straighten out the now hollow sheath. Tie an overhand (granny) knot in the hollow sheath near the end of the lead wire, but don’t draw the knot down tight.
Next slide the monofilament or fluorocarbon you want to connect the leadcore to into the hollow sheath and work it all the way up to overhand knot. Holding the mono or floro in place inside the hollow sheath work the overhand knot down nearly to the end of the sheath. When the overhand knot is positioned about a quarter inch from the end of the sheath draw the knot down tight. That’s it, you’re done and you’ve formed a super smooth super secure connection.
I find that this rig allows me to reach some pretty extreme depths that I never thought were possible with leadcore. For example I was fishing the rig at Shasta with a Sep’s Strike Master Dodger and a threaded worm at the business end. We were trolling at 1.5 miles per hour. I’d spooled all the leadcore off the reel and about 125 feet of the 8 pound backing. I guessed the gear to be working at about 15 feet or maybe a little deeper.
As we trolled near the bank I got hung up, so we backtracked to get the rig loose. Once we’d worked the boat directly over the snag I looked at the sonar. It read 33 feet! Most experts will tell you that you get 5 feet of depth for every color of leadcore and yet with my rig I was getting over twice that much!
I also find that the rig works great when used with a Sep’s inline planer. I simply let out all the leadcore and then attach the plainer to the 8 pound mono a yard or two above the leadcore. I put the rod in a holder with the tip up and allow the planer to walk out 30 or 40 feet to the side of the boat. I love to roll shad with this planer rig and I’ve got some quality kings and rainbows doing it early in the morning.
Shoot, we are just about out of space already, but I’ve got room for one more…the downrigger dropper rig. This is an oldie, but there are quite a few folks out there that have yet to see it. Let’s say you are out trolling for kokanee or kings down deep using a downrigger. What if you would like to target trout at middle depths?
You could accomplish this using a stacker clip on the downrigger cable and employing a second rod, but there is a simpler approach. Go ahead and put out your deep offering and drop it down to the desired depth. Next take a 3 foot piece of 10 pound fluorocarbon and put a snap swivel at one end. To the other end attach a small lure. Spoons work great as do wiggle hoochies. Take the snap and place it around the line going down to the downrigger clip and then toss the lure out behind the boat.
As the boat moves through the water, water pressure causes the line between your rod tip and the downrigger clip to form an arch out behind the boat. The lure you attached via the snap will work its way down to the half way point between the rod tip and clip. If your deep bait is working at 60 feet, your dropper lure will be working at 30.
I just used this rig utilizing a pink wiggle hoochie to catch a number of handsome rainbows while targeting kokanee at Don Pedro Reservoir.
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