from Deanna Travis

FlyAnglers Online

Publisher & Owner



June 06, 2011

The April 2011 issue of Salmon Trout Steelheader, a long-time sponsor here has some really neat features. If you don't read it you are missing out on some really good tips. Yes, it is not specifically intended for fly fishers BUT it always has some articles which do apply to us. The last article, Just One More Cast is all about a 200 Fish Flat Fish. Now wait, yes I do know a Flat Fish in not a fly. 


The folks with hardware and or bait are fishing for the same fish we fly anglers are. And they are getting results. Is there something we can learn from their methods? Maybe they have learned something from ours, but that remains to be seen.

So here's the story, and I'll quote directly from the article:

"The story evolved when Larry LaRue, of Looney Lures mentioned Bob Toman had just dropped off a tattered and torn M2 Flatfish that had recorded 183 chinook salmon so far, and was still going strong. Larry excitedly shared how impressed Mr. Tolman was with this particular Flatfish - the Demon Dick - that Larry had custom painted the season prior."            

So what makes a 200 fish plug? Toman says, "Not every plug has what it takes to catch 200 fish." (Note this appears to be over a one-year time period.)

The first factor is you have to be fishing the plug in water that can produce large numbers of fish, and then a number of other factors kick in. Toman believes having a clean lure is much more important than using scent. He always changes out his lures after two fish. He theorizes that when a fish is caught on a lure it leaves a negative scent on the lure and so he changes out lures after two fish.

Now maybe there really is something to the smell factor, I do know some tiers of saltwater Permit flies do not use head cement because the fish can smell it. Hmmmm?

"It seems crazy to remove a hot lure, but time and time again we see the two-fish rule come into play. Once a lure is skunked it's poisoned until thoroughly clean."

He cleans his lures and plugs with regular Crest toothpaste, Lemon Joy, or Dawn dishwashing liquid and a soft bristle brush.

That may sound extreme at first, but then I remember a five-pound metal coffee can which had dry dog food in it. When fishing for salmon on the Great Lakes with my father, whomever attached plugs, bait, or flies to the lines was requested to "wash" their hands in the dog food.  Yes, we caught fish.

Remember the old saw about bringing bananas on a boat? Toman is more concerned with fried chicken - he can't count how many times a box of fried chicken has killed the bite.

He also believes you need to 'tune' each lure to the specific fishery. All baits, lures are identified by the fish using their lateral lines. The most effective lures produce a vibration which mimics baitfish or prawns. Once lure size and style are identified, Toman believes color is the next important factor. (Sort of matching the hatch for us?)

He says, "Every river and every fish have their go-to colors, the trick is to manage the color for those fish and the conditions." Which include temperature, water clarity and lighting.

Another thing he mentions is to make sure whatever you are using is 'tuned' properly so it runs correctly in the water. Have you ever dragged your wet fly, nymph or streamer through the water and watched to see the action? Many years ago the late JC and our friend Big Jim built a small very narrow tank out of plexiglass just so they could 'test' flies for our local Pacific Salmon.

Mr. Tolman highly suggests you come up with a system to track which lures are catching fish and when. A lure or plug which consistently produces is very rare and worth safeguarding. I personally know at least one of our readers in the east who has a small voice operated recorder and does indeed keep track of what fly catches what and when. However I don't know exactly what he does with the information.

So what things do you see in the article which might have a bearing on how we fish? Are there things we might try? Learn anything? Read more, just might find some little tip which can make a big difference in your catching!    ~ LF

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