by Les Albjerg
First time fishing spinners in a stream
I have been trying to settle in my mind, which is better spinners or spoons? So far, my conclusions have lead me to the answer, "It depends on conditions."
In the past month, I have come to feel that spinners are easier to fish effectively, but are not as versatile as a spoon. Just by reeling in a spinner, you get the lure to provide the action that leads to a strike. With a spoon, getting the wobble right to imitate a small fish is more difficult and challenging. As I continue, I will make the following disclaimer, I am still new at this!
There is a spinner fisherman who often has 100 plus fish days. One of my goals when I was up in the mountains was to attempt to meet that goal. I did have a 110 fish day. All of the fish I caught were Brook Trout. The fish were from 4 to 17 inches. Since I was following the advice of refreshing my line after every 20 minutes of casting or every 3 fish, I switched between spinners and spoons several times. To reach my goal, I covered 2.5 miles of water on one stream and 1 mile on a smaller creek and about 3/4 of a mile on another creek as well as 9 fish from a dredge pond.
The advantage that I had is the area I was fishing had been closed since November and I was the first one to fish these streams since last fall. Besides, they often don't get fished even when it is open. In the 4 years I have fished up there, I have seen one other fisherman. In my two and a half days up there, I was the only one around. I had ideal conditions.
I began my day spinner fishing. To be totally candid, this is the first time I have spinner fished in a stream. I used all of the lessons learned over the years fly fishing for trout. I had a good idea where I should be placing the lure and where the trout ought to be. Eighty percent of this water I had fished before, so I knew where most of the good spots are too.
I was fishing with the Tenyru Spectra RZS51LL and Shimano Cardiff reel with 4 pound test line. By following the routine of refreshing the line, I didn't lose any lures. I had many bumps during the day on spinners and spoons. I only counted fish landed. Casting with the Spectra is a dream! I would say well over 70% of the fish were taken out of pocket water or undercuts. With a spinner, I simply cast above where I thought the trout was by 3-6 feet, let the spinner settle some, and then reel the spinner by the suspected lair, and more times than not, it was "Wham" fish on! I had about 20 follows. I did the figure 8 at my feet but only caught one fish doing it. So when it came to spinner fishing, getting a nice speed on the spinner casting upstream and retrieving downstream at a speed that made the spinner spin effectively, I had good action. Most fish were caught within the first 8 feet of the retrieve. Most casts were 15 to 25 feet.
I found spoons worked the same way the spinners as long as I had a good wobble with the spoon. However, when I finally got to some of the nicer pools, the spoons really began to outperform the spinner. Since the water was very clear, I could see what was going on many times. When I cast the spinner, often the fish would move toward it and follow but not strike.
With a spoon, I could manipulate the action easier. I tried letting the spinner settle several times to the bottom, and then begin the retrieve again. No reaction from the trout. With a spoon, I let it drop and jigged it several times. That jigging action resulted in several hook-ups. The Diawa 2.5 gram Crusader spoons have a lot of latitude in the retrieve speed, and that versatility was very helpful in catching a lot of fish. Fishing with a varied retrieve often brought violent strikes.
I had one trout follow the Crusader three times. Since the pool ended in a shallow riffle, he simply turned and went back to the middle back of the pool. On the fourth try, he followed again, but I had stepped to the left and was retrieving where I could move my rod about 80 degrees. I slowed the retrieve slightly, moved the rod and gave it two quick cranks like a fish trying to get away. He turned, and "Wham" fish on.
It is also nice to have a familiar place to go and test things. I fish an area close to home called Wilson Springs a lot. One of my favorite honey holes was available yesterday. The hole often holds three planter (stocked) rainbows, and that was the case yesterday. Again, the spoons were more effective. These are pressured fish. Using the constant wobble technique only resulted in follows. By employing a couple of jigs after the follow, and then an escape move, I got one of the fish to strike. I went over to a different area with a nice seam of flowing water next to a pool and caught two more fish using the "escape" technique.
I also think the different shapes of the spoons lend themselves to being very effective. I used a Smith Edge Diamond spoon in the faster water of the side streams I fished and found it to be even more effective than the spinners in the faster water. I believe with time and more experience, I can figure out which shape works best under what conditions.
I have also tried some American made spoons and they just don't perform like the JDM spoons that Chris sells. Sure the JDM are a bit more expensive, but the quality shows, and I think they are more balanced.
So as of right now, I believe spoons are more effective. What I have learned is you really have to pay attention to the feel of the wobble. You can do that with the high quality rods that are sold here. With a spinner, it can be retrieved at a steady speed regardless of the change of current speed in the stream. Not so with getting a nice steady wobble on a spoon. I found myself varying the retrieve to keep the wobble consistent with the spoons.
I also discovered that often a fish will hit a spoon more than once, but will not often hit a spinner more than once. Twice on my trip, I had a trout slam the spoon hard. Instead of jerking it to set the hook, I let it flutter down and the trout turned and grabbed "the wounded fish." That happened once at Wilson Creek, but I didn't see it.
So, I will end with this little tidbit, maybe instead of setting the hook when you feel the slam, try letting the spoon fall and allow the trout to get it!
I might be totally wrong, but right now I see spoon fishing as much more versatile because you can manipulate a spoon more effectively than a spinner. Both have been effective for me so far.
All I can say is this type of fishing sure beats sitting on a lawn chair and tossing out a bobber with a nightcrawler on a size 8 hook and hoping something comes by.
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The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.