Downrigger Tips

By on February 11, 2010

These are a few tips to make your salmon fishing trips easier and more productive.

1) With the growing popularity of UV lures and the continued popularity of Smelly Jelly, we must be careful about how they are used together.

If Smelly Jelly is placed over the UV paint on your lure, it will mask the UV light that the fish see, thus rendering it almost invisible to the salmon. You can still use Smelly Jelly, but, put it on the hooks, leader and unpainted side of the UV Lure.

You will then have the best of both worlds. A powerful scent attractant and the outstanding visual effect of the UV lure.

2) One of the mistakes that I see most often on the water, is when anglers check their flashers to make sure they are not dragging a shaker. They crank down on their rod and break it loose from their release clip. Why? Then you have to fight the drag of the flasher all the way back to the boat. Most often, the shaker you find on your lure was picked up as your line came up through the upper water. Let the downrigger do the work. Bring up your flasher and lure with the downrigger. You will lose less time and it will require less effort. Time in the water means more fish to your boat.

3) When fishing salmon plugs, forget Tip 2 (above). Because of the size of plugs you will catch fewer shakers. By breaking your plug loose from the release clip, the plug will retain its action all the way to the surface, and especially in the summer time, mature salmon will hit it on the way up.

4) Don’t set the Hook! When a salmon breaks your lure loose from the release clip, it is already hooked. If it is hooked lightly, you will just rip the hook out of its mouth. If hooked well and you set the hook while the fish is running, you can break the leader.

Just reel down until you feel the fish and just lift your rod, keeping the line tight. A salmon, in the first few seconds usually goes wild. Hold him until he calms down. Don’t reel while he is running. Keep a tight line, but don’t try to pull him. Once he calms down, now YOU are in control.

5) Most salmon are lost right at the boat. Take your time, enjoy the fight! A hooked salmon will almost always seek cover by going under the boat. Don’t try to reel him out from under the boat. Stick your rod down into the water, keep a tight line and the salmon will usually come back out by themselves. If he goes to the other side of the boat, keep your rod tip down in the water and walk it around your props. Then pick up your rod tip and go back to playing the fish.

6) Don’t rush the salmon to the net. Wait until the salmon starts to lay up on his side and then you guide him to the net. Don’t frantically try to net a fish that is not yet tired. Most salmon are lost by the netter, stabbing out with the net and hitting the line. Take your time.

Tom Nelson
Tom Nelson is the publisher of Known throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Dean of Saltwater Fishing,” he has helped develop and test tackle and gear for Scotty, Pro-Troll and Silver Horde, is a regular speaker at area sports shows, has taught more than 5,000 students how to fish during his classes at western Washington community colleges, and is the co-founder of the Puget Sound Anglers.