Rigging for Saltwater Salmon

Saltwater Salmon

(Bold text indicates what we believe to be the most effective.)

Use a standard salmon “mooching” leader, 30 to 50 lb test, two 3/0 to 5/0 hooks tied 1″ apart. Thread fly on leader and slide down over hooks. Use a locking swivel or tie the other end of leader directly to the tail end of flasher or dodger using specified leader length.  Measure from the tail end of flasher or dodger to the nose of bucktail.

Leader Length for 11" Plastic Flasher (Hotspot or similar brand)
  • 20-27″ for Pink salmon, trolling @ 0.5-2.5 mph. *See our pink 3 inch Mini GSB*
  • 18-32″ for Coho salmon, trolling @ 2.5-3.5 mph.
  • 29-31″ for Blackmouth or Spring salmon, trolling @ 2.0-2.5
  • 36-39” for Adult Chinook King salmon, trolling @  2.0-2.5 50 lb. test.
  • 27-30″ for Chums, trolling slow @ 0.52.0 mph.
With Dodger (size 0)
  • 14-18″ for Coho, Chum, Pinks, Blackmouth, trolling @ 0.5-2.0 mph.
  • 21-23″ for Adult Kings, trolling @ 0.5-2.0 mph.
With Dodger (size 00)
  • 10-14″ for Coho, trolling @ 0.5-2.0 mph. Use 10-15 lb leader with this smaller dodger and 2/0 hooks.
Downriggers / Weights
For downrigger trolling, we like a 10-15 pound ball depending on the water current and trolling speed. Pancake style balls, fish shape, or oval with a fin will help limit blowback on the ball. 3-5 foot long clips, and run the flasher out 15 ft behind weight. For flat-line trolling use crescent sinker 2 to 8 oz. weight depending on how deep you desire, 3ft ahead of flasher or dodger. Or simply slide a GSB weightless on the surface 50-80 feet behind the boat in the prop wash bubbles at sunrise or sunset for awesome surface strikes. You’ll be SHOCKED at how many strikes will happen on the surface.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Don’t forget to raise, remove seaweed, re-apply scent or herring, and reset every 15 minutes. Any seaweed on your flasher or lure will never catch a fish, and scent always helps.
  • Troll with the current flow. We catch 80% of our fish going w/the flow, only 20% going against it. This is not set in stone, but just a general trend. There are those odd-ball days where this logic flips.
  • Best fishing is 1 hr before tide change to 2 hrs after. Also dusk and dawn.
  • Add a small strip of baitfish to your hooks, fillet a herring, anchovy, or other baitfish. Cut into long triangular strips1/4″wide by 3″long, then roll in un-iodized salt. Hook strip once through the wide end so it is hidden in the fibers of fly. We get 15 baits out of one 6″ herring. The scent of the herring will increase your catch.
  • If you use oils, pastes, or scents of any kind, put them on your flasher! They can gum up our flies, and reduce the action of the bucktail fibers. We use 10 drops on the tail end of our flasher. Re-apply every 20 min. Smelly Jelly Herring scent in the “thick” formula is our favorite. Smelly Jelly does make a thick paste that some anglers will apply to the helmet of the GSB.
  • Find tide rips for Coho (troll rigs @ 20-60 ft deep even if bottom is 400 ft deep) This is their usual cruising/ feeding depth.
  • Fish shorelines, edges of kelp beds, points, and drop offs when King Salmon Fishing. Most of the time they hug the bottom, so troll w/a downrigger just off the bottom. The only exception to this is the adult summer/fall kings, which are often caught suspended off bottom @ 40-80 ft deep.
  • Last and certainly not least, if they aren’t biting, CHANGE. Change speed, change depth, change path, change direction, change color of size of GSB, shorten your leaders, do something! The worst thing to do is to stick with what is not working. Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, third time is a pattern. Find the pattern for the day and get your limit!

Here’s a picture of my 46lb-9oz King Salmon taken in Wrangell, Alaska (June, 2000). I can tell you with all honesty that your fly was responsible for my wonderful fish being caught. I fished two weeks using your 4″ Blue Herring fly/with a hotspot flasher, and it out fished all other lures. When I left, my host (a lodge owner) asked that I leave some of your flies behind.

Michael Brazeau

Grand Slam Bucktails are great!! My friend Leo Kingrey caught this  47lb-2oz King Salmon (on 8-29-00) using your 4″ Blue Herring and a green Hotspot flasher. We have also caught 6 other kings over 20 lbs. each over the last 6 weeks with the your lures, as well as some smaller ones. What amazes us both is that yours is the only lure we have ever used that catches all types of fish…Needless to say, it’s now the only lure we use on our boat. Thank you!

Dan Koesterman

Ready to catch some saltwater salmon?

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