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Written By: Roland Aspiras, March 13, 2012
The salmon season is in full swing and there are two popular ways to fish spinners from the bank on the “Old Sacramento River” in the California Delta.
The first rig is what's called in the bass fishing world as the "Carolina Rig." The rig begins with a 20-24 inch section of 12 pound test leader material. One end is your spinner, the other end is a quality crane swivel. The leader is tied to your main line, with an egg sinker varying in weight size, above the swivel.
This rig gives you great flexibility in changing the weight. Most of the areas I fish spinners on the river require a 1/2 ounce weight. Slower current equals lighter weight and faster current equals heavier weight. Your goal is keep the spinner running close to the bottom.
Some folks like to use a snap lock barrel swivel to attach the spinner to the leader (and for quicker lure changing), but I don't like to for the simple fact that it changes the size profile of the spinner. This is especially true if you're using a silver or brass snap lock. So, I tie my leaders directly to the spinner.
The second rig simply involves no egg sinker. I call it direct rigging; you attach the spinner directly to your mainline. In this rig, you absolutely must use a snap lock barrel swivel to avoid the chance of line twist. Now, I know I just said I dislike using snap locks, but in situations where I have to use them, I'll use black. They have no shine which does not make the spinner look bigger than it actually is.
These two rigs have different line requirements. The Carolina Rig requires little; you can use anything from 8 to 15 pound test depending on how risky you're feeling. Your leader should be a minimum of 12 pound test mono or florocarbon. When you're directly rigging the spinner, I would suggest line no lighter than 10 pound test.
Rods and reels vary from angler to angler, but I find that baitcasting reels work best for me. I currently use a Shimano Curado E5 rigged on an 8'6 steelhead rod rated 6-12 pound test. Another good reel for the application is an Abu Garcia Revo SX. Other anglers use spinning tackle, where I would suggest the same rod length and line size. The Shimano Sahara or Symetre in the 3000 size is good reel to try.
So what about spinners? My two favorite spinners are the Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner, and Mepps Aglia. I fish a #5 blade size for both, but you can use a #4 spinner in clear water to reduce the profile of the lure as the fish will have the tendency to be more spooked.
There are many spinner manufacturers out on the market, and sometimes bait shops in the region hand make their own. To me, there are little to no differences in the mechanics of a spinner in relation to the manufacturer who made it. I believe the biggest factor in choosing a spinner to fish is color. In clear water use silver blades, and in stained water use brass or neon blades. The body of the spinner seems to matter less than the actual blade.
The most popular spinner to use if you're direct rigging is the Mepps Flying-C. This spinner is weighted, which is why it is ideal for the rig. Two sizes are available, 7/6 and 5/8, and there are a multitude of different color arrangements available. There are also other companies which manufacture weighted spinners, but you'll have to shop around online. You may see some custom made spinners soon at your local bait/tackle shop.
Fishing spinners is the same whether you are using a Carolina rig or a direct rig. Flip a cast (don't cast a mile), engage the reel and retrieve the rig slow, then repeat. That's all there is to it. Pay close attention when your spinner gets close to the bank - often salmon use the bank as a navigation tool, and they will crush a spinner as it comes through its path.
Give these tips a shot when the season opens. I'm almost positive that they'll help you catch salmon on the Old Sacramento River; that is of course the claims of a good season are actually correct.
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