By Bill Herzog
Casting and retrieving/swinging spoons for steelhead has made a bit of a comeback the last ten years. Nice to see the oldest technique for steelhead experience a bit of career resurgence. Rigging our spoons- that is the configuration of swivels and hooks- has to not only be the right size and style but also serve a function to up the strike per solid hookup ratio. There are several ways to do it and expect positive results, but ten years of experimentation with all known ways to rig a spoon has shown brightly on one way in particular.
An old commercial salmon troller showed me this rigging about ten years ago. While nearly all steelhead/trout spoons fitted with single siwash-style hooks are simply hung on the bottom split ring and fished, he pulled a large trolling spoon from his pocket and showed me the way, as he described, all salmon trollers rig their spoons. They do not want to miss bites or lose fish. This spoon had a split ring on the tail (bottom), a swivel on the split ring and on that swivel was a siwash hook.
He showed me how the rigging is far superior by allowing the hook to slide into the crux of his hand, between thumb and index finger. The swivel would allow the hook to turn, cam action, until the point found purchase in his hand- every time. Same thing happens when a fish strikes, the hook will find the corner of the mouth 98% of the time, without fail. Not only has this style of hook rigging sent my percentage of strike to land ratio through the roof, I no longer eye or tongue hook fish. In a catch and release fishery this is of maximum importance.
Here is how the properly retrofitted steelhead/salmon/trout casting spoon should look like: A #7 or #5 swivel (steelhead), a #5 split ring (steelhead), all on the head (top) of the spoon; spoon body; an additional #5 (steelhead) on the tail (base) of the spoon; another #7 or #5 swivel (steelhead); then open eye siwash hook matching spoon size. For example, ½, 2/5ths or 2/3rds oz. Spoon match with a stout 1/0 siwash or 2/0 for large fish. Quarter-ounce spoons try a #1 siwash.