When it comes to fishing the Columbia River every angler knows trolling spinners is very effective methods for catching salmon. Of course trolling bait, cut plug herring, plugs wrapped in tuna, spoons, and hoochies, all have their place. Trolling spinners for salmon on the Columbia is by far one of our favorite methods. 

Don’t get me wrong, bait is still extremely effective, but when bait fails Trolling spinners are more likely to get fish in the boat 

Best 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 on the market or make your own. This will overall ensure the success of ones business. our favorite trolling spinner are made by a small manufacture that makes the Dirty Troll.  The Dirty Troll is unique in the world of trolling spinners in that they’re made of high-quality parts, like natural gemstone beads, brilliant spinner blades with various UV paints and quality metals like gold, silver, and copper. They also use high end aftermarket hooks for example VMCMatzuo and Gamakatsu.  To us this is a very important factor. We simply have no desire to waste time cutting the poor-quality hooks off the spinners to put the goods one on ourselves like we’ve done in the past.  In this case Dirty Troll does it for you with some of these hooks retailing for a $1 each. 

Fall Chinook caught with the “Death Star” Trolling Spinner by Dirty Troll. 

Trolling Spinner Element’s  

One of the key elements to trolling spinners for salmon on the Columbia is that you need a spinner that is light enough not to interfere with the movement of the flasher. We use 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 Chinook tend to bite when trolling at slower speeds. Coho on the other hand usually bite when trolling at faster speeds. This makes the Dirty Troll Colorado perfect for beefing up your spinner game and catching Columbia River Salmon.  

Choosing The Right Colors

 An important element of trolling spinners for salmon is choosing the correct colors. Selecting the the right colors can be the difference between catching limits or spending hours on the water and going home with empty cooler. One of the things we’ve found over the years is that Columbia River salmon are responsive to just a few 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.  

Apply Scent    

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.  

Add Natural Bait  

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.   

Nice Chinook caught with the Dirty Troll Sparkler hoochie spinner

On the Troll 

When trolling spinners for fall Chinook on the Columbia you should get your gear down anywhere from 30’ to 50’ depending on which part of the river you’re fishing. Troll at about 3-5 mph keeping the gear low and slow! This ensures that you’re getting the spinners in front of the fish and so the magic can happen. Once you see your rod get bent over and over again, it’s hard to fish anything else. The only down side is that when we troll spinners on the Columbia, we tend to limit out pretty fast. Definitely a great way to get these fish in the boat.   

There are three Dirty Troll spinners we love that just can’t be beat.  The first and probably our most favorite is the Dirty Troll Full-Scale Assault “Pink Nightmare” spinner, the Dirty Troll Death Star and Sparkler spinners have proven effective as well. Also the Fire Squid spinneris another winner. Alof them excellent trolling spinners for catching these feisty Columbia River salmon.  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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