Rigging the Pro-Troll Flashers
Flashers catch more salmon each year than any other device ever invented. Learn to use the Pro-Troll and you will be amazed at the results.
Rig it right and you will catch more salmon than with any other system. Rig it wrong and
you will catch a few salmon but most of them will not hit. The difference between right and
wrong involves a few basics along with some special tricks. The Pro-Troll flashers are
normally tiedto your fishing line from your rod and reel.You will then rig a bait, hootchie, fly
or lure two tofive feet behind the flasher. With your boat in motion you let the flasher up to
30 feet back. Your fishing line is then clipped in a downrigger release and you are ready
to take the setup to fishing depth. Diagrams on the following pages show different setups.
Rule #1 Rig it Frontwards
One of the most common mistakes with flashers is trolling them backwards. The narrow
tapered end is the front. The taper makes the flasher spin as it is trolled. The wide rear
section of the flasher kicks back and forth to attract the salmon with strong vibrations.
This flasher rigging section is divided into six sections. Each section discusses a different
aspect of flashers that can help you catch more salmon.
Rigging The ProChip 8 Flashers with the Agitator Fin
The ProChip 8 (eight inch) flasher is currently the more popular than the 11 inch model. The diagram shows a ProChip 8 rigged to a downrigger. The same type setup can be used with a drop sinker, a dipsey diver or a planer. This flasher has been endorsed by nearly every Charter Captain or Professional fisherman that has tried it. It is also a consistent derby winner.
To illustrate different rigging methods, we have selected several of the top salmon fishermen in North America to discuss how they rig and use the flasher.
The ProChip 8 and ProChip 11 flashers may represent the most significant flasher
development in decades. The spin and kick design combined with the EChip is outfishing
everything on the market. They have several rigging advantages. (1) They can be fished very
effectively with a variety of setups including downriggers, 2 or 3 lb. drop sinkers, dipsey
divers or other planers. (2) Thefront leader length can be as short as 4 feet and still get an
effective tail kick which attracts salmon and gives lots of action to the bait, hootchie or fly at the back. (3) It can be trolled as slow as 1 MPH and still provide a strong tail kick. This is a big advantage when fishing for mature salmon that will not hit a fast moving bait or lure. Conventional flashers must be trolled at 2 MPH or more to get a good tail kick.
Typical ProChip 8 Flasher Rigging
Captain Pete Lahosky runs the Prime Time Fishing Team on Lake Ontario. He has won almost every major salmon derby on the Lake including the prestigious Challange Cup. He has fished the ProChip 8 as his primary flasher for the last two seasons. One of his favorite setups is running the ProChip 8 eight feet behind a wire line dipsey diver. He runs a white and pearl fly 22 inches behind the flasher. His comments were, "The ProChip 8 just seemed to call kings to it. This rig outfished similar set-ups with everything else the same but the flasher by a 2:1 margin."
Captain Barry Canevaro Charters for salmon on the Pacific Ocean outside the San
Francisco Golden Gate. He is recognized as one of the top salmon producers in Northern
California. He runs the ProChip 8 in two different setups. Early in the season when the
salmon are actively feeding he will run the flasher on a downrigger. He runs it 25 feet
behind the downrigger cable with either a Pro-Troll Roto Chip bait holder rigged with an
anchovy or a hootchie. He uses a tail leader length of 36 inches. Late in the season when
the large spawners congregate outside the Golden Gate, he changes to a 1 1/2 lb. drop
sinker 30 inches in front of the flasher. He uses a 30 inch tail leader with an anchovy in the
Roto Chip. With this setup he will troll as slow as 1 MPH. His comments are, "I have never
seen any flasher catch fish like the ProChip 8. My preferred color is the glow in the dark
white. For the last two months of the season it caught more fish everyday than any other
setup on my boat. One of the reasons I feel it is so effective is that I can drop my trolling speed to as slow and 1 MPH and still get good flasher action. This gets the 30 to 40 lb. spawners that will not hit a fast trolled bait late in the season".
Rigging HotChip 8" and 11" Flashers
Conventional 8" and 11" flashers have been used by sport and commercial fishermen for decades. Rigged right, they are the top salmon catching devices in the world. The flashers are normally made of bright colored plastic and have colored tape on both sides. Embossed silver tape is very popular as is glow in the dark tape and various colors of tape.
Typical Flasher Rigging
Front Leader Lengths
The distance between your downrigger release and the front of the flasher can range between fifteen and thirty feet. This long leader here gives the flasher plenty of room to spin which is an important part of its action. In restricted conditions some fishermen will set the front leader length as short a six feet. Lengths more than thirty feet are rare and generally serve no purpose.
Tail Leader Lengths
The tail leader length is the most critical part of correctly rigging a flasher. The tail leader length is the distance between the back of the flasher and the bait or lure. Tail leaders that are too long or too short will perform poorly in catching fish. Commercial fishermen who make their living with flashers will often repeatedly adjust their tail leader lengths if they are not catching fish. Sometimes a few inches will make a huge difference in the catch. Recommended tail leader lengths vary by the type of lure or bait behind the flasher and also vary by the species of salmon you are after. Following many years of research, here are our recommended tail leaders.
Hootchies or Flies Bait or Lures
11" flasher 36 to 50" 42 to 60"
8" flasher 20 to 27" 26 to 48"
11" flasher 26 to 40" 24 to 42"
8" flasher 20 to 27" 22 to 48"
(1) The Chinook (King) salmon distances also apply to Makinaw (Laketrout) and halibut.
The diagram shown above assumes you are fishing with a downrigger. The downrigger allows a fisherman to extend his front leader up to thirty feet back from the downrigger wire and still be able to reel the flasher up to the tip of his fishing rod when he is netting a salmon. When drop sinkers, dipsey divers or other planers are used, the front leader length is restricted to five or six feet. This will still work but the flasher is somewhat restricted in its arc of rotation and amount of tail kick. The research at Pro-Troll indicates that fishermen that are not using downriggers will have better success with flasher like the Pro-Troll ProChip which has a built in agitator fin for more action with a shorter front leader.
Many fishermen prefer to not have the flasher tied onto their fishing line. When a fish is hooked the flasher adds some extra drag to the retrieve. These fishermen will often tie the flasher directly to the downrigger weight on an extra cord and then hook a downrigger release and their fishing line up the cable four or five feet. The flasher then acts as an attractor and does not interfere with landing a salmon.
Alternate Flasher Rigging
Eight Inch Flashers vs. Eleven Inch
Pro-Troll makes both 8 inch and 11 inch HotChip flashers with EChips. Both of them work well. If you are fishing bait or a spoon behing the flasher the 11 inch model usually works better. The tail kick and vibrations from the flasher are what attract salmon. You need to be careful you do not fish a lure that is too heavy or you will reduce the tail kick to a small wiggle and the flasher will not attract salmon. The 11" model is better able to handle the heavier bait setups and spoons. The 8" model works very well with small light hootchies or flies. These are both very light and will allow a good tail kick on the 8" model.
Hootchies are very effective behind flashers when the salmon are feeding on shrimp or krill (squid). There are dozens of color variations available. Whites greens and shades of reds and purples are popular hootchie colors.
Some fishermen use lures or spoons behind flashers but you have to be
careful. A lure that is too heavy will kill the tail kick in your flasher. Small StingKing lures and spoons can sometimes work very well.
As the season moves into summer
and the larger salmon are reaching
maturity, small flies and sparkle hootchies can work very well. Howie or Horse flies tied 20 to 24 inches behind a ProChip 8 flasher can be deadly.
Lures and Baits to use Behind Flashers
Bait rigged behind the flasher catches more salmon than any other setup but hootchies are also very popular. When frozen bait (or bait strip) is used, it is best to use whatever the salmon are feeding on in the area where you are fishing. In the ocean, this is most often anchovies or herring. In fresh water the common baits include shad, smelt and alewives. The bait should be mounted in a bait holder like the Pro-Troll Rotary Salmon Killer or new Roto Chip. My traditional setup for ocean chinook was an 11" flasher with exactly four feet of tail leader and a red or chartreuse Rotary Salmon Killer holding a frozen anchovy or herring. Year in and year out this setup proved more effective than any other variation I had tried. Since the development of the ProChip 8 flasher with the agitator fin and the EChip, I now use this setup more than anything else. It catches more salmon. Early in the season when the salmon are agressively feeding I will normally use a frozen anchovy or herring approximately 30 inches behing the ProChip 8.
Why Flashers Catch More Salmon
Flashers catch more salmon every year than any device or other setup on the market. The secret lies in the mechanisms salmon use to find their prey. Salmon, like other fish, have five sensing mechanisms they use to find their prey. Sight, smell, sound, lateral line vibration sensors and electro sensor cells which can detect nerve pulses from baitfish. The lateral line is by far the most important of these. Along a salmon's side and on top of his head he has rows of nerve cells that can sense vibrations in the water. When a school of baitfish swim above a salmon he knows exactly where they are even though he cannot see them. He can sense the vibrations of their wiggling tails as they swim. He can also detect stronger vibrations made by larger fish as they attack baitfish. If you watch the action of a Pro-Troll flasher in the water its tail kick closely duplicates the swish swish of a salmon's tail as he attacks.
Salmon sense this from as far away as thirty or forty yards and will immediately
charge in the direction of the flasher. Like a magnet, the flasher has pulled salmon
to your baits and lures. This is the flasher secret. It pulls salmon to your boat. You
may catch them on the setup behind the flasher or you may catch them on other
lures fished above or to the side of the flasher. No other device offers the lateral
line attraction of the well designed Pro-Troll flasher with its strong tail kick. The
Pro-Troll flasher has one additional advantage in that it contains the EChip
electronic pulse generator. This appeals to the salmon's fifth sensing mechanism.
As he approaches, he feels the tiny electric nerve pulses he is used to sensing as
he approaches a live baitfish.
Flasher Colors and Trolling Speeds
Pro-Troll makes a number of different color flashers and different finishes.
The best salmon colors are red, green, blue, white and chartreuse. Tape finishes include embosses silver, white glow in the dark, fishscale and several special reflective tapes. The
best color to use will vary with water color and fish conditions. Water color is very important. It can vary from absolutely clear to green, brown or blue depending on silt and algae conditions. One flasher rule of thumb is to match the water color. In green water use green flashers. In blue water use blue and in brown water use red or white. When fishing very deep (100 to 200 feet down or more,) light colors like whites and glow in the dark
work well. The best color strategy is to have a variety of the most popular flasher colors in your tackle box. If you are not catching fish with one color, try another. Often you will find that one color will outfish all the others. But, the next time you go out, you may find that a different color is best.
Flasher Trolling Speeds
Conventional 8 and 11 inch flashers are normally trolled between 2.0 and 2.5 miles per hour. This speed is needed to give the flasher good tail kicking action. The vibrations from the tail kick are what attracts the salmon. The new ProChip flashers with the agitator fin on the back can be trolled much slower than conventional flashers and still provide excellent tail kick. These can be trolled down to 1.0 mile per hour. At whatever speed you troll, look at your flasher action as you start to let it down. It should have a strong side to side tail kick along with a spin. The optimum salmon attraction occurs when the flasher is most erratic in its motion.
Flashers vs. Dodgers
Dodgers and flashers are both used very effectively to catch salmon. Many fishermen do not know the difference between a dodger and flasher and end up rigging them wrong. Both dodgers and flashers attract salmon with strong vibrations in the water. But, the flasher spins and the dodger does not. A flasher has a narrow diagonal front end which causes it to spin. A dodger is rounded the same on both ends.
A dodger is designed to swing back and forth like a pendulum on a very
short front leader. A size 0 dodger works best with a front leader of only
27". As pointed out earlier, an eleven inch flasher front leader can be 15 to
30 feet. Both dodgers and flashers work well but more salmon are caught
on flashers. Dodgers are more sensitive to trolling speed changes than
flashers. If a dodger starts spinning, you are going too fast and you have
lost the proper vibrating action.
Table of Contents
Rigging the Pro-Troll Flashers