"Whether you're just starting out and learning the troll-game or run a salmon charter, chances are you'll be fishing this setup next time you head out."
The Flasher & Hoochie Setup is one of the most universal trolling rigs for salmon fishing
If you polled every saltwater salmon angler in the Pacific Northwest and asked them what setup they used most often to troll for salmon, the Flasher & Hoochie Setup would be on the top of the list. This combo has been a crowd favorite on the salmon grounds since plastic was invented, and for good reason... it consistently catches salmon. This basic rig consists of a plastic flasher, a double-hook leader and a plastic squid (hoochie) as the lure. It's a salmon catcher for sure and is used for Chinook, Coho, Pink and Chum Salmon.
How to troll for salmon with a flasher & hoochie setup
Regardless of whether you are targeting a specific salmon species, or trying to catch whatever is in your area, this is a great setup. It is almost always trolled off of downriggers, but if you want to run an extra setup off the stern or simply don't have downriggers at your disposal, this can be downsized and fished as part of a Flat-lined Flasher Setup or Diver & Flasher Setup. With downriggers, first you want to get the troll speed somewhat dialed in, send your setup 20' to 30' back behind the boat and then clip your mainline into the downrigger release clip. The correct speed needed to effectively fish any flasher setup should get your flasher to fully rotate 360 degrees continuously, if the flasher is dodging side-to-side you are moving too slow, and if it is violently whipping around you are moving too fast.
Flasher choice is key for catching salmon on the troll
An 11" flasher is the top choice for salmon trolling in most of our marine waters. Whether you're fishing in the open Pacific Ocean off the Washington Coast (or elsewhere), or in the Puget Sound, it's the most widely used size. Most flasher makers have a similar form, however you can chose between a flasher with an extra fin (for extra movement) or without (the universal flasher).
On occasion, an 8" flasher will be the big producer for the day. It's well worth having a few in your boat, especially during Coho and Pink Salmon fishing season.
For flasher selection, we prefer one with some form of glow-in-the-dark tape, but beyond that there are plenty of great color patterns to choose from. For a flasher with a fin, the Pro-Troll Finned ProChip or Pro-Troll Finned Lighted ProFlash are our top choices. For a traditional flasher, the Pro-Troll Lighted ProFlash, Pro-Troll HotChip and Gibbs Highliner Flashers are great and make their way into our daily trolling rotation.
Rigging a salmon hoochie
For most salmon trolling applications, we use a 30 to 40 pound P-Line Fluorocarbon leader and two hook snelled about an inch apart. Our typical hook recommendations are Gamakatsu Big River or Gamakatsu Octopus hooks. Size 3/0 is common for Coho and Pink Salmon, size 4/0 is universal for all species, and size 5/0 are used if you are specifically targeting bigger Chinook.
We will use leaders anywhere from 26" to 42" in legth depending on how much action we want imparted in the lure. As the flasher is dragged through the water and rotates, it pulls the lure around and gives it an enticing action. More action will be imparted in the lure with a shorter leader. We typically use shorter leaders for Coho and Pinks, and longer leaders for Chinook.
We offer a pre-tied salmon rig that is extremely effective and ready to go. If you want to tie your own, grab some P-Line Fluorocarbon Leader, Gamakatsu Hooks, Squid Inserts and either P-Line Sunrise Squid or Gold Star Squid 5-Packs. If you don't want to tie your own leaders, check out our pre-tied trolling leaders.
Other recommended gear
For most salmon trolling applications, you're going to want to use a mainline of either 20 to 30 pound monofilament or a 40 to 65 pound braided spectra.
If you want to use monofilament for your mainline, we recommend P-Line CXX Strong, Izorline, Maxima Ultragreen or Berkley Big Game. Monofilament offers easy knot tying and a little stretch that may help cusion the head shakes from a big Chinook. You can fill your reel up and tie on a quality ball bearing swivel to help eliminate the risk of line twist from the flasher.
We tend to lean more torwards using a braided mainline. It's zero-stretch composition allows you to see every action in the rod tip (seaweed, jellyfish, salmon hits, small fish bites). The heavier line recommendation is due to the line's thinner-diameter-per-pound-test, and 40 to 65 pound braid is the perfect diameter for us. P-Line X Braid and Powerpro Spectra are the most popular. Once we spool up our braid, we tie on a top-shot of 40 pound test P-Line Fluorocarbon of about 30 feet. Use an albright knot. This allows us something to clip our downrigger release to and also gives us a durable end to our mainline.