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Rigging Flashers

Flashers catch more salmon each year than any other device ever invented.

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.

Rigging Conventional 8" and 11" Flashers

Conventional 8" and 11" flashers have been used by sport and commercial fishermen for decades. Rigged right, they are the top salmon catching devices in the world. The flashers are normally made of bright colored plastic and have colored tape on both sides. Embossed silver tape is very popular as is glow in the dark tape and various colors of tape.

Typical Flasher Rigging

Front Leader Lengths

The distance between your downrigger release and the front of the flasher can range between fifteen and thirty feet. This long leader here gives the flasher plenty of room to spin which is an important part of its action. In restricted conditions some fishermen will set the front leader length as short a six feet. Lengths more than thirty feet are rare and generally serve no purpose.

Tail Leader Lengths

The tail leader length is the most critical part of correctly rigging a flasher. The tail leader length is the distance between the back of the flasher and the bait or lure. Tail leaders that are too long or too short will perform poorly in catching fish. Commercial fishermen who make their living with flashers will often repeatedly adjust their tail leader lengths if they are not catching fish. Sometimes a few inches will make a huge difference in the catch. Recommended tail leader lengths vary by the type of lure or bait behind the flasher and also vary by the species of salmon you are after. Following many years of research, here are our recommended tail leaders.

  Hootchies or Flies Bait or Lures
Chinook Salmon    
11" flasher 36 to 50" 42 to 60"
8" flasher 20 to 27" 26 to 48"
Coho Salmon    
11" flasher 26 to 40" 24 to 42"
8" flasher 20 to 27" 22 to 48"

(1) The Chinook (King) salmon distances also apply to Makinaw (Laketrout) and halibut.

The diagram shown above assumes you are fishing with a downrigger. The downrigger allows a fisherman to extend his front leader up to thirty feet back from the downrigger wire and still be able to reel the flasher up to the tip of his fishing rod when he is netting a salmon. When drop sinkers, dipsey divers or other planers are used, the front leader length is restricted to five or six feet. This will still work but the flasher is somewhat restricted in its arc of rotation and amount of tail kick. The research at Pro-Troll indicates that fishermen that are not using downriggers will have better success with flasher like the Pro-Troll ProChip which has a built in agitator fin for more action with a shorter front leader.

Many fishermen prefer to not have the flasher tied onto their fishing line. When a fish is hooked the flasher adds some extra drag to the retrieve. These fishermen will often tie the flasher directly to the downrigger weight on an extra cord and then hook a downrigger release and their fishing line up the cable four or five feet. The flasher then acts as an attractor and does not interfere with landing a salmon.

Alternate Flasher Rigging

Eight Inch Flashers vs. Eleven Inch

Pro-Troll makes both 8 inch and 11 inch conventional flashers with EChips. Both of them work well. If you are fishing bait or a spoon behind the flasher the 11 inch model usually works better. The tail kick and vibrations from the flasher are what attract salmon. You need to be careful you do not fish a lure that is too heavy or you will reduce the tail kick to a small wiggle and the flasher will not attract salmon. The 11" model is better able to handle the heavier bait setups and spoons. The 8" model works very well with small light hootchies or flies. These are both very light and will allow a good tail kick on the 8" model.