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Salmon Rigs for Trolling

Salmon Rigs for Trolling

​There are a few types of salmon rigs for trolling that are wildly used by anglers today.

There are lots of lure choices and bait combinations that can be used on these salmon rigs and knowing how and when to use each of these is a smart way to approach salmon fishing.

The gold standard though is and has been for a long time using a salmon flasher in combination with a downrigger.

Before the invention of downriggers lots of lead on your line was needed to get down beyond 30 feet and that meant a big lack of sensitivity once you had a salmon on the hook.

That being said technology has really moved on in recent years and you can even buy flashers that give off an electronic pulse which mimics the same tiny electrical charge that bait fish emit and that salmon will naturally home in on.

​Salmon Rigs for Trolling

1. Standard Flasher/Downrigger Rig

This will be the most common of trolling rig for salmon and 90% of salmon charters will run this as their only rig for most of the season at varying depths.

​The flasher is attached to your mainline, on the other side of the flasher is a fluorocarbon leader rated somewhere between 20 and 50 lbs of roughly 20 to 50 inches in length.

​Your lure is then attached to this leader. There needs to be a minimum of two swivels in this salmon rig one either side of the flasher.

Only high quality ball bearing swivels should be used and not the cheaper inline variety. Having multiple swivels ensures that if one fails there will still be one good one to help reduce line twist on your main line.

The main line is then let out the required distance and then attached to you downrigger setup.

The downrigger is then lowered down to the required running depth. Sometimes this can be as deep as 200 feet.

A good salmon ​fishing rod will for this type of setup will need to be a trolling rod with a line rating of between 20 ad 40 lbs with a heavy power rating and a moderate/fast action.

​Trolling like this needs a dedicated reel, a good salmon reel for trolling is something like a Shimano Tekota.

​2. Dummy Flasher Rig

​A dummy flasher rig means that the flasher is actually attached to your downrigger ball and not onto your main line.

This is usually done when you want to remove the fishing flasher yet still get the benefit of the vibration and flash that it gives off.

Running a flasher on your main line will effect how you end up playing a salmon once it is hooked as they do add a bit of drag when retrieving.

​They can also allow a salmon to get a bit more side ways leverage when trying to shake a hook so you may have a better landing rate when not using one directly.

When using a dummy flasher you will usually be running your main line closer to the boat than you would normally when the flasher is inline.

This makes sense as once the salmon are attracted to your dummy flasher you really need to present your lure or bait whilst they are still close by.

Running too long a main line behind a dummy flasher will just mean that the salmon investigates the flasher hangs around for a few seconds and then heads away from your boat and trailing lure, so don’t set it back too far.  

​3. Long Line Rig

A long line rig is just a main line and a lure occasionally with some added weight. It basically means that you are not using a downrigger or a diver to help get your salmon fishing lures down to really deep depths.

Lures like a large jointed Rapala work really well on a long line as their swim action is not affected by something like a flasher or dodger.

This type of salmon trolling rig is usually only used for shallow water work. However you can run a combination of different rigs with this one.

It is rare that all rods on a boat would be long lines. And you will usually find on a lot of salmon charter boats that downriggers will be run on either side and a long line run directly off the stern a considerable distance back form the boat.

Lead core lines can be used to great effect with these kind of rigs if you need to get to roughly 20 to 30 feet in running depth.

Always make sure that you run a fairly large leader of either mono or fluorocarbon line though preferably of at least 20 lb in breaking strain.

​4. Spinner with Flasher/Diver Rig

Tolling spinners for salmon is not really done very often but it is actually gaining in popularity and running one behind a diver is the preferred method.

A flasher or dodger may well affect the spin of the blades of the spinner.

Ultimately a spinner is already providing it’s own flash and vibration from the blade. You will usually need to run a fairly large spinner in order to be successful.

Spinners will also work well behind a dummy flasher as mentioned above. You get the best of both words all of the attraction of the flasher and then the inbuilt flash and vibration from the spinner.

You can also run a trailing hook off of the back of your spinner with a small piece of bait on it, salmon baits like fresh herring or anchovy.

If you a switch out the treble hooks for a high quality single hook you can also thread a small plastic/rubber squid or hoochie skirt on the back of the spinner to give it even more life.

  • Updated October 16, 2021
  • Salmon