I will never forget my first king salmon encounter in my early twenties. I was fly fishing in the Two Rivers area with a simple fly I made from a foam ball and some super glue. When that fish grabbed my fly in those knee deep waters the fight that ensued changed my whole perspective on fishing. It had so much power and jumped so high out of the water that I was literally exhausted and out of breath when I finally beached it on the shoreline. That fish broke the 5 wt fly rod I was using and continued to fight with me all the way to the cooler. That same kind of experience is what I was after the first time I booked a salmon charter for myself and some friends on Lake Michigan a few years ago.
As we left the dock and headed to the open water outside the harbor walls I remember my initial confusion as the first mate on board let line after line out of the back of the boat into the water. It was my first experience with trolling, something I had read about, but had never actually done. When the first rod went off they quickly handed it to a buddy of mine and soon the bobbing and bucking rod tip went limp. Always trying to learn when fishing, I asked the first mate what happened. "They start to roll from being pulled along by the trolling boat" he said, "They use the weight of the lure to free themselves, it's a leverage game." I knew immediately what he meant having had more than one musky get off my line because of the lure weight working against me. I hadn't really given it much thought until I was at a fishing expo in Chicago last year. That's where I first encountered an Echotail specifically designed to land king salmon.
The lure was called the King Magnet, and it addressed the issues with trolling for king salmon simply. For those of you that are not yet up to speed with the Echotail line of lures, here's a quick refresher. The Echotail lure is an adjustable blade bait with an interchangeable tail. Like other blade baits you have seen (owned) for years you can adjust how it runs and vibrates by attaching your line to one of 5 holes on the back of the lure. Want less vibration and a more subtle presentation use the front hole, heavier vibration and a more aggressive presentation use the rear hole. Unlike other blade baits it has a barbed bait keeper built into the back of the metal lure. Now you can add a soft plastic tail to the blade bait. Think about the possibilities for just a second, single tails, double tails, worms, scented plastics, creature baits, you're only limited by your imagination. You can customize the Echotail indefinitely, it will change the way you fish for your favorite species. Anyway, now that I have gotten off topic and started to ramble you're wondering. How did they deal with the salmon freeing spin when out trolling for kings?
They added a barrel swivel and a bigger hook. Well actually it was a little more complicated than that. The boys over at Vibrations Tackle tested design after design and countless hook configurations. Working with charter boat captains and local kayak anglers they created a series of go to colors meant to simulate alewives on the great lakes. Next they bumped up the lures to a heavy 1 1/2 ounces to help them get down to the depths required to target off shore schools of big kings. Then they manufactured the lures of out 18 gauge stainless steel so they would hold up to the abuse that trolling day in and day out can dish out. Finally, they added the swivel so that salmon will roll free of the lure when hooked up resulting in fewer lost fish. Like I said, simple...but GENIUS. I included a picture of the King Magnet next to a standard Echotail so you can see the differences in lure design and compare them side by side.
I for one am really excited about the 2015 fall king salmon season in Wisconsin. It will be my first time to target these fish on the water instead of on the shoreline. With the King Magnet lures swimming behind my kayak I'm sure it's gonna be a rod doubling, big fish wrangling, grip and grinning, good time on the water. To get your own King Magnet trolling lures follow the link here. To get trolling charts, how to videos, or to learn more about the Echotail line of lures, check them out at www.VibrationsTackle.com.