Trolling for Salmon - Speed Matters (Sort Of)
If you are trolling for Coho or Chinook salmon you undoubtedly have heard a lot of talk about how fast you should be going to really catch fish. Like most fishing lore, it seems to me that a lot of what is printed as fact is actually conjecture. I suspect that many of the references to trolling very slow come from 'back in the day' when people primarily drug cut herring as lures. This meant that going too fast meant you would tear off your bait.
Today, some salmon fishermen do quite well trolling very slowly, while others cut through the water at what seems like blistering speeds. Commercial fishermen will even troll at speeds approaching 6 miles an hour. Of course for salmon this is still not a problem because they can reach speeds of up to 12 miles an hour.
When Trolling for Salmon Why Does the Speed Matter Then?
What your trolling speed is really influencing is the action of your lures. Most lures are designed to be trolled at right around 2 miles an hour. Have you stopped to look at what your lure is doing?
Every time you put a lure in the water pause for a moment and observe its action. Plugs should be wiggling side to side not doing big arcs or rolling over in the water. Spoons should be wobbling nicely not thrashing around wildly.
What are your flashers doing? Are they moving slowly around in a nice big full arc? Adjust your speed so they are moving correctly!
Trolling with Herring is the one place where you will need to slow down. Going too fast with Herring for bait means that they will get torn up in the water and not be as attractive to the Salmon. Using a 'helmet' type device does help and saves a lot of bait over the old cut plug techniques.
When You Are Trolling for Salmon Can They Actually Catch Your Lure?
Salmon may be thought of as skilled predators but the reality is that their aim sucks! The average salmon will take to three or four swipes at your lure before really getting a good bite on it. When salmon attack, they generally make a dash for your lure and take a bite at it, not having enough time or brain capacity to make any final adjustments, consequently they miss a lot.
Your lure needs to not only attract their attention, but be an easy target. This is probably why most references suggest slower speeds when trolling for salmon. If your lure is thrashing about in the water too much, it makes it hard for salmon to bite it!
Be Sure to Vary Your Speed!
One last point to consider is that bait fish don't swim in a straight line at a constant speed; neither should your lures! Adjust your speed up and down, and troll in S curves. This will speed one lure up as another slows down. If you aren't getting bites at one speed, try faster or slower. Whatever you do, don't just troll all day in straight lines at one steady speed!
Trolling for salmon secrets? I am not sure that I would go as far as saying anything we do is secret, but there are a lot of techniques and tools that you can use to catch more salmon. From where you are fishing, what line, rod and reel to use and of course what lures and scents to use, there is just a lot to know if you want to be successful at salmon fishing.
I invite you to visit our site, Fishing with Cliff where you can find articles, tips and videos on catching salmon when you are fishing Puget Sound and other waters of the Pacific Northwest.