Salmon Fishing With flashers


Flashers and dodgers are big time salmon catchers. More salmon are caught on flashers every year than on any other rigging setup. If you know the principles of flashers and dodgers and how to rig them you will have a big advantage over those who don't. Lets start by explaining the difference. between them. A flasher shown on the right in the photo is a large colored plastic blade with silver or colored tape on both sides. The most common saltwater salmon flashers are eleven inches long although the new mini eight inch flashers like the Pro-Troll ProChip 8 are coming on strong. The flasher is made to rotate as it is trolled. The narrow tapered end in the front. A bait or lure is connected to the back of the flasher by a tail leader. A dodger is metal and the size 0 salmon size is about nine inches long as shown in the photo. The dodger is uniform at both ends and is not made to spin. Its action is like a pendulum swinging back and forth as it is trolled. If you troll too fast and the dodger spins you have lost its strong fish attracting ability. Dodgers and flashers do the same thing in attracting salmon. Their action puts out strong vibrations in the water that can be detected by salmon thirty or forty yards away. The salmon are attracted to these vibrations because they are the same as the vibrations made by the tail of a salmon on the attack. Other fish will charge the flasher or dodger hoping to get in on the feed.

There is a major difference in the way flashers and dodgers are rigged. Rig them wrong and you may catch a few fish. Rig them right and you will catch ten times as many fish. Flashers are made to ride twenty to thirty feet behind your downrigger release. The size 0 dodger is made to ride twenty six inches behind your release. With a flasher you want your bait or lure three or four feet behind the flasher and with the dodger you want the bait about twenty inches behind. The rigging dimensions for both these devices is critical particularly the tail leader length. For a complete description on how to properly rig the flashers go the the section on "Rigging the Pro-Troll Flashers below". It will give you all the specifics.

The author uses both dodgers and flashers but in recent years has moved more to flashers. Flashers are more speed insensitive than dodgers. In other words they will work over a wider range of trolling speeds than a dodger. Dodgers tend to have one speed where they work best. If this speed is exceeded the dodger spins and you lose its attraction to salmon.


Flasher Rigging

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 tied to your fishing line from your rod and reel. You will then rig a bait, hootchie, fly or lure two to five 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.


Flasher Rigging

Rigging The New ProChipFlashers with the Agitator Fin


The new Pro Chip 8 and Pro Chip 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) The front 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


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.

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 Pro Chip 8 as his primary flasher for the last two seasons. One of his favorite setups is running the Pro Chip 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 Pro Chip 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 Pro Chip 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 Pro Chip 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".

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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.

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.


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 salmons 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.