Trolling Spinners for Fall Chinook on the Columbia

November 16, 2021

When it comes to fishing for fall chinook on the Columbia River every angler on the water has their own secret weapon for catching these amazing fish. Trolling bait, cut plug herring, plugs wrapped in tuna, spoons, spinners, hoochies, you name it all of them have one purpose and that is to catch those Up River Brights and get some meat in the freezer.   

Among the many ageless tactics, one of the most effective methods we use here at Columbia River Fishing Adventures are trolling spinners. Over the years fishing on the Columbia River has pretty much been a bait game, but now with several new companies coming out with some killer gear we’ve found that trolling spinners is an excellent alternative to the mess and stink of using fresh bait as well as the hassle of caring for it.  

Don’t get me wrong, bait is still extremely effective, but there are a few alternatives that are just as likely to get fish in the boatOne of the ways we are able to do that is by trolling spinners for fall Chinook.  

Trolling Spinners 

When deciding on what trolling spinner to buy, we tend to focus on quality. As a fishing guide it’s important to use the highest quality products you can find to help ensure the success of your business. One of trolling spinner manufactures we prefer is SCB. They’re the makers of the super effective Dirty Troll line of trolling spinners. We love these spinners not only because they are made of high-quality parts, for example natural gemstone beads, brilliant spinner blades with various UV paints or quality plating like gold and silver. They also use high end aftermarket hooks like VMCMatzuo and Gamakatsu. This is something that is very important to us because in the past we used to cut the poor-quality hooks off the spinners we purchased from the local tackle store and put on our own hooks. In this case SCB basically does it for you with some of these hooks retailing for a $1 each. Although quality is important, what we really love about SCB is that their spinners just plain catch fish.  

Key Element’s  

One of the key elements to trolling spinners for kings on the Columbia River is that you need a spinner that is light enough not to interfere with the action of the flasher. We like the 9” Pro-Troll flashers for running our spinners and prefer spinners with the #3 or #3.5 Colorado blades. These blades really engage well in the water and can be run at slow trolling speeds which is great for targeting chinook.  

Over the years one of the things we have come to learn is that Kings tend to bite when trolling at slower speeds whereas coho tend to prefer a bit faster troll. This makes the DT Colorado perfect for beefing up your spinner game and catching a bunch of fish.  

Color Selection 

An important element of trolling spinners for fall Chinook is choosing the right colors. Selecting the correct colors can be the difference between catching limits or spending hours on the water with no fish in the boat. One of the things we have found over the years is that Columbia River chinook are very responsive to only a few different colors. If you’re looking to the absolute best opportunity for success, we have found that fall chinook love reds, greens, pinks, or chartreuse. These four colors have proven effective over and over again for catching fall salmon and that we use religiously to make the magic happen. Another element of coloration that is important is contrast. High contrast lures tend to be more effective at catching fish than lures that are just one solid color.  

The last element of coloration has to do with Ultra Violet light spectrums. As humans we are unable to see light through the UV spectrum. Fish on the other hand can see through the ultra violet spectrum and in low light conditions this allows them to see their food as well as avoid predators.  

Stink It!       

Given that fish have an exceptional sense of smell and most importantly use it to find food, scent is among one of the most vital factors to consider when trying to attract fish. When applying scent to your trolling spinner it’s always a best practice to select a scent that most closely matches food source of the fish species your targeting. We like herring, shrimp, krill, sardine and anchovy which have all proven to work well.  

Bait it!   

Another effective option for catching fall salmon with spinners is to apply actual bait to your spinner. We do this sometimes then the bite dies off and we’re not getting any action. Place a chunk of herring on the end of the hook of your spinner or possibly a shrimp tail. This can provide a nice little change of pace and get the fish biting again. Remember for optimal results we recommend using bait that is a natural food source for the species of fish your trying to catch. However, we have also had decent results with other bait option such as tuna that has been spiced with a cocktail of stinky stuff prove quite effective, we prefer the natural stuff.  

On the Troll 

When trolling spinners for fall Chinook on the Columbia we like to get our gear down anywhere from 30’ to 50’ depending on which part of the river we’re fishing. We troll at about 3-5 mph keeping our gear low and slow! This ensures that we’re getting our spinners in front of the fish and thats usually when the magic happens. “Whammy! Fish on! When trolling spinners on the Columbia, we tend to limit out pretty fast during the fall season and one of the ways we’re able to get these fish in the boat is using Dirty Troll trolling spinners by Stone Cold Beads 

SCB first hit the market with their natural gemstone fishing beads, later they began to incorporate these beads into a new line of casting spinners called Rock & Roll spinners. When they decided to try their hand at trolling spinners the Dirty Troll was born.  

There are three Dirty Troll spinners we love that just can’t be beat.  The first and probably our most favorite is the SCB Full-Scale Assault “Pink Nightmare” Hoochie spinner, the Dirty Troll Death Star spinner has proven effective as well and the Fire SquidAlof which are excellent trolling spinners for catching these feisty fall fish.  These spinners are very effective and are one of the ways we are able to get the fish biting and keep our clients on the fish. The end result is satisfied customers and limits of fish in the boat.  

In Conclusion 

If you’re looking for an effective method of fishing for fall chinook on the Columbia River, we recommend trying the methods mentioned above while trolling spinners for fall Chinook. It’s a fun and effective way to catch fish and rarely disappoints when applied properly. If you’d like to experience trolling spinners for yourself on the Columbia River feel free to give us a call. We book Columbia River fishing trips year-round on the Columbia and would be more than happy to help you call 503-490-3099. 

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