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I heard this before, but our boat has had a hard time catching fish on flies, could it be the speed we're trolling at? All of the fish we have caught have been on spoons, and a decent number over a couple years...

Suggestions... or what the problem could be...



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it could be speed, but I wouldn't worry about it if you're catching fish. Just keep a good spread out there and move in more stuff that seems to be working. If you change from the original and nothing works, go back to what you started with and see if what was working starts working again.

I don't know if this is valid or not, but I think a trolling spread is a lot more than just individual lures. They act together and may entice fish into only a couple of the lures. Just like how star point guard still needs the big forward to get the rebound and kick it out to him before he can drain the 3.

I also think that each boat has their set up or hot lure that works best. On one boat a moonshine spoon will take 75% of the fish, while on the next boat the same spoon can't buy a bite. It might be a fishlander that catches the most on that boat. The trick is just finding out what works on the boat you're on.

Stable weather usually leads to a better chance to figure out the pattern, but as soon as it switches expect the entire pattern to change.

Take this from just a hack salmon fisherman that goes over a few times a year and tries to figure out a fish with a tiny brain.

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I think hot baits are universal on all boats if everything else remains a constant. I also think speed is one of the most important factors involved in great lakes trolling. Each lure fishes best at a certain speed. Im sure you've played around with your speed quite a bit but still wound up only catching fish on spoons. Have you tried running flies at the same depth as your spoons? You mentioned flies but not flashers or dodgers... you aren't running only flies? If the speed is right and the flashers are "in the zone" maybe they aren't getting the correct rotation. I prefer a good bead chain swivel from the flasher to the mainline above all other swivels. Quality swivels are very important. After that you can play around with the leader length from the flasher to the fly. 22" is a number thrown around often. Then there's the drop back from the ball/release. I like to run fairly short leads but have seen a few guys run em back a ways. If you stack flasher/fly rigs keep a 15' spread and run the top lead 2x longer than the bottom. I could go on but hopefully something here gets you a few on a fly. Aqua.

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All good advice so far. It is funny but some people that swear by spoons.....flasher flies...jplugs........meat rigs.......... All are great presentations and all will catch fish on any given day on the water. Like MattHH, mentioned terminal tackle and speed play a big role in the way the flasher/dodger/fly combo runs. Fly leaders can be short say 10-12" all the way to 4-5' or more depending on what you want your fly to move like behind the flasher/dodger. Rules of thumb, shorter leads more erratic motion and vice versa. Sometimes a short herky jerky lead can turn on neg/neutral fish other times they want the softer lilt of something moving by slowly. I always fish with a mixture of flasher and flies j-plugs and spoons. Some days the fish like the fly others the spoons. Most important is to gain confidence in the spread and lures you run and play a bit on those busy fish days. If you fish spoons all of the time you'll have more confidence in spoons if you fish flies all of the time you'll have ................well you get the drift. Mix it up a bit and let the fish tell you what they want. S-turns to work the speed can show you some things faster, slower, falling, rising. Lots of fun trying to figure it out and just when you tink you have it something changes:) Don't you just love fishing!


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One of the rules of thumb is three wraps around your flasher. So for standard flashers that would be 24" The next thing is what are you running it behind. The longer the lead the bigger the roll. So 40 feet behind a downrigger it will turn much larger circles than a 15 foot lead. If you are running them behind a dipsey and want a slower roll you have to deal with a long leader of you want a slower/bigger roll. So play around with lead lengths and you will get it dialed in. The plastic flashers are much more speed tolerant than a dodger. And I second the need for high quality ball bearing swivels. My flasher flies use to be less successful in my boat till I played around with lead lengths. Standard colors seem to always produce some a little better than others but a selection of white, green, blue, and aqua are the most popular I would say.

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I agree with trying a variety of items. We used to catch many fish behind downriggers but I have been impressed by the fact the past few years that we have not been as successful with them. Increasing the length of the lead (sometimes to 70-100 ft) has helped but by far our best success on the riggers has been with SWR setups. And I would guess 75% of our fish have been coming off of dipseys ans leadcore rigs with equal success on spoons or FF combos. Have others had the same experience with their riggers?

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