How to Catch Kokanee
3. Lures and Attractors
There are hundreds of kokanee lures on the market. Some of them are fished by themselves and a lot of them are fished behind a dodger or multi bladed attractors.
Some of the most popular lures are:
Mac Lures Wedding Ring
The Pro-Troll Kokanee Killer
The Tomic Wee Tad Plug
Luhr Jensen Needlefish
Luhr Jensen Midge Wobblers
Vance's Sockeye Slammer
Vance's Kokanee Bugs
Lee's Fire Fly Bugs
Uncle Larry's Copper Pops Spinner
Popular dodgers and flashers used ahead of kokanee lures include:
Vance's Kokanee Dodgers
Pro-Troll ProChip 4 flashers
Seps Pro Dodgers
Luhr Jensen Dodgers
Shasta Tackle Sling Blade
Popular multi bladed attractors include:
R&K Spinner Blades
Luhr Jensen Blades
Little Slim Willies
Dave Davies Trolls
In the early morning to midday kokanee seem to have a preference for greens and chartreuse. Later, when good light is on the water, the best colors are bright red, pink, and hot orange. Silver chrome has also become a very popular color. Many fishermen will add fishscale or other holographic tape to their lures or dodgers. This material picks up sunlight and literally explodes into a rainbow of colors. If you are marking kokanee and not getting hit, changing colors, lure styles or scents can often make the difference. Some lures are made in "Glow in the Dark" colors. These prove exceptional in early morning and low light conditions such as deep depths.
The Pro-Troll Kokanee Killer and the Wee Tad Plug have two rigging advantages for kokanee. On both of these, the lure will slide up your leader and the kokanee will not be able to use the lure for leverage to tear the hooks out of its soft mouth. Avoid using lures where the leader ties directly to the lure and the hooks are attached directly to the lure's body. Kokanee are tremendous head shakers and love to roll up on your lure and line. A lure that stays in a kokanee's mouth will provide a tremendous amount of leverage for tearing hooks out. Most anglers will tell you they lose at least 50% of the big kokanee they hook. Rigid hooks mounted in lures are frequently the problem. Free floating double rigged hooks behind kokanee lures seem to have an advantage. #2 to #4 red or gold Gamakatsu octopus style hooks or equivalents work very well. Approximately 1/4 inch distance between the bend of the top hook and the eye of the trailing hook is best.
When you get kokanee on top of the water prior to netting they usually go crazy. They will start to roll up on your line. When a kokanee is exhausted and lying on top on its side it is perfectly OK to skim him across the surface of the water into your net. However, when a kokanee is on top and going wild, quickly lower your rod tip and get the fish to go under and start swimming again. If you attempt to horse a kokanee when it's on the surface going ballistic you will almost always tear the hook out, even with the two hook rig.
Some lakes seem very color oriented. Greens and chartreuse may work well from first light until around 11:00 AM. when the sun is well up on the water. At this time if the bite slows down try the hot orange, bright reds, bright pink or pearl pink lures. Some lakes do not exhibit color patterns with light changes and more daily experimentation is required. Sometimes a color change can trigger action just because its different than what the fish have been seeing. In recent years a number of fishermen have had good luck fishing mid day with copper and pink or gold and pink lures. Vance Staplin likes copper under these conditions. He also drops the lures further back from his downrigger. Instead of his normal drop back of 10 to 15 feet he will go 30 feet or more when the sun is high.
Dodgers and multi blade attractors can often make the difference between catch and no catch. Dodgers are run in front of your lures and multi blade attractors are usually run off your downrigger cannonballs. Dodgers are flat metal blades that rotate in a side to side movement. These blades are not designed to spin completely over. If this happens you are trolling too fast. Multi blade attractors have blades that spin and appear like a school of kokanee. Most fishermen will not attach attractors to their fishing line but will attach them to the cannon balls. Combinations of silver, and silver and brass blades work well tied in tandem. The sequence of flasher
tandems can be up to eight to ten feet long. When these are run from the cannonball your downrigger release must then be attached on the downrigger cable two or three feet above the ball. Pull out enough leader so that your lure ends up two to five feet behind your flasher blades. When fishing this way it is very important to lower your downrigger ball very slowly in to the water. If you lower it too fast the drag from the flasher tandem will cause it to rise upwards and tangle your lure line.
Its more fun to land fish without a dodger on your line. However, the use of a dodger will usually help catch more fish. Some days the kokanee bite so well a dodger is not necessary. If you are consistently marking fish without getting bit on plain lures, add dodgers. If that doesn't work try adding tandem flasher blades off each downrigger ball. The best kokanee dodgers are four to five inches long with chrome or dimpled finishes. Wee Tads and Apexes are usually run 30 inches behind a dodger to allow the lure to swim freely. A shorter leader will greatly restrict lure action. Bugs and flies are usually tied 10 to 12 inches behind the dodger.
Most experts will not use more than two downriggers in the water at once with one or two rods on each downrigger. More than two downriggers with four to eight lures, dodgers and tandem flashers may serve to attract kokanee but there is a limit. Too many lures and attractors can confuse the kokanee and they cannot focus on attacking a lure. When these fish attack they exert a tremendous amount of energy, but their burst of pursuit only lasts for a few seconds. The kokanee may simply get confused, tired and quit. You may be getting dozens of "almost" bites each day and never know it. It's best not to try fishing too many rods at once.