by Fly Fisherman

Many otherwise confirmed fly fishermen, to be able to garner enough trout to form a layer in the frying pan, have, for one reason or another, resorted to their pet spinner or spoon or other artificial lure to accomplish the feat.
In nearly all instances these “hardware” lures are fished, as are wet flies, downstream and in the same general manner or trolled slowly in lake fishing.

The common spinner, used with or without the supplementary fly or bait, is perhaps the most popular artificial enticer. Anglers who have experience in using the spinner also have their favorite shapes and their theories on which kind fits best or works best in fast water, in slow water or in dead water. The more choice shapes are known as Colorado, Indiana, Bear Valley, June Bug, Willow Leaf and the somewhat different Aeroplane propeller blade spinners. Fishermen use their spinners naked in some instances and in others they attach their favorite spinner fly, streamer, pork rind, pork chunk, chamois strips, meat strips, etc.

In gathering factual material for this chapter I went into a huddle with an old-timer from Kentucky who had a reputed know-how for catching, not only trout but every species of sweet water fish he put his mind to. The knowledge and skill that he possessed and demonstrated was worthy of praise yet he claimed it was only horse sense. They ain’t nothin’ mysterious about it,” he stated, “Any water splasher could do it as good as me if they’d jes’ listen. No, they gotta go on the way the latest magazine article told ‘em—so, they don’t catch the fish an’ I do.”

His method, which was no secret, was in using strips of fish belly skin, preferably white, hooked on and trailed behind his spinner or spoon lure. I gathered from his instruction that the strip should be narrow and not too long. The skin strip should be scaled and scraped almost clean, A little meat left on, near the hook end, would be advantageous. He said it would impart more “flavor” to the lure. He varied the shapes, for no particular reason except a hunch, from a long narrow triangle to a snaky wave cut, a narrow oval and one that had finger-like streamers cut into the piece. I was also informed that pork rind, chamois or white kid skin strips were also good but not as effective as the real thing which had action and also exuded taste and smell.

The spoon lures, which flutter and wag their way through the water are a popular decoy when metallic, weighted lures are the type chosen for use. Spoon lures come in a number of varying patterns. Some are shaped like a modified dumb-bell and some are pear shaped, triangular, cone shaped, diamond shaped, oval shaped, egg shaped, shaped like a fish, circular like a tin can cover and quite a few are spoon shaped. Like the spinners, all are not metal. They show up in plastic, bone and mollusk shell, among others. The metal spoons are usually nickel or chrome, copper, gold and brass and the large majority are enameled or partially enameled in striking colors and patterns, some of them fantastically futuristic.

I’ve seen tandems of spinners running to as much as five and six feet long, ahead of the trailing baited hook or fly. These tandems consist of from two to a dozen blades, sometimes all the same size but generally tapering from extremely large to smaller ones. I’m told these are “attractors” to point out the lure to interested trout. These tandems are used only in trolling behind a boat. Paul Bunyan might have been able to cast them but you and I would look mighty silly trying to fling them around.

Both the regular spinners and spoons, with or without the additional skin strips, require current or forced pull to bring out their action. In a stream they would be worked similarly to the methods used in fishing a streamer fly. In lakes, they are generally slow trolled and are more effective just short of the bottom or close to aquatic foliage patches or weed beds. If casting or using spinning tackle try the cast out—let sink—wait three or four minutes—then retrieve slowly, method. A couple of successful experiences doing that and you’ll wonder why you used to be so impatient and anxious to start reeling in. You had the lure back to you before the fish you were after had recovered from the scare of the splash, occasioned when your bait struck the ceiling of their dining room.

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