The metal fishing spoon lure was believed to be first used back in the 1840’s. Spoons are a simple design, an oblong shape, concave on one side that catches water producing a wobble and light reflecting flash imitating a fleeing or crippled bait fish. Because spoons appeal mainly to the sense of sight they work best on clear or lightly stained water conditions.
The long standing popularity of spoons results from ease of use as a fish usually will hook itself when it grabs a spoon. Spoons work best for larger predators such as northern pike and walleye that are our main fish species on Wawang Lake. The action of a spoon is based on it’s shape and thickness. A long spoon will display a wider side to side wobble than a shorter spoon. A deep concave spoon will also produce a wider wobble than a flatter spoon. Thin spoons used for trolling have an erratic wobble compared to thick spoons but thick spoons have advantages as well, the extra weight casts better, sinks faster and will run deeper than thinner spoons.
There are five types of spoons:
Casting, trolling, weedless, jigging and the surface spoon.
Spoons are stamped, forged or molded from brass, copper, steel, lead, plastic or wood. Most are painted on one side with a polished metallic surface on at other side to reflect the sunlight making the spoon visible. Some spoons have a hammered or rippled finish that transmits light in multiple directions such as baitfish scales scatter light.
When casting or trolling a spoon the speed is critical for success, if fished too slow or too fast the spoon will not wobble properly, you should experiment to find the precise speed for each spoon to perform its best. When casting a spoon anglers will cast 10 to 20 feet beyond the area they believe the fish are and retrieve through the strike zone. For flat line trolling from behind a boat the speed and amount of line out should be the main consideration, as well as in using depth control rigging such as downriggers and dipsey divers.
Rod Action with Spoons
Dependent on the species you’re targeting, small spoons for stream trout, larger spoons for bass, pike and salmon or vertical jigging for walleyes the preferred choice when casting/jigging spoons is a stiff tipped fast action rod. Ultra sensitive, soft action rods are not recommended as they do not telegraph the fish strike as quickly a fast action rod will accomplish. Your success in using spoons is to immediately set the hook upon feeling a fish bite.
Spoons & Leaders
Anglers using casting, weedless or trolling spoons should attach their lines via a leader with a ball bearing swivel and snap or a combination snap ball bearing swivel.This allows freedom of movement for the spoon and will keep the fishing line twist to a minimum. For surface and jigging spoons the best is to tie directly to the eyelet or snap. Both will work better without too much play at the lure line connection.
The main fish attracting component on a spoon is the flash, some spoons have additional attractors placed on the spoon or are added by the angler, they are: Clickers: Two small willow spinners on split rings located the end of spoon for vibration and noise. Flippers: A small oblong piece of plastic (red or yellow) for added color attached on the split ring and hook. Trailers: For added color and profile Feathers / Tied Tail / Soft Plastic or Pork Rind.
If you ever had the opportunity to open Grand Pa’s old metal tackle box it would be safe to say you would find quite a few of the traditional red and white casting spoons that where popular back in the 1940’s – 50’s. Following the same path as crank bait lure companies spoon manufactures have over the years introduced hundreds of new colors patterns and finishes using prism, holographic, glow and glitter all to enhance vibrant colors and flash of spoons.
In selecting spoon colors to build your tackle assortment, the choices can be overwhelming but some colors have been tried and true over the years. For casting spoons in clear or slighty stained water the classic colors of red and white with nickel back, black and white with nickel back, yellow five of diamonds in red with brass back, and combinations of nickel/silver – gold/brass are your best bet. On stained or darker water use, firetiger with brass back or orange/yellow and nickel combinations.
For trolling spoons on Wawang Lake the universal best color is all silver or gold with including combinations of red/white, yellow or green hues to mimic the forage of perch or herring. Listed below is a reference guide to help you identify the common types of spoons and how they are used:
Traditional Casting Spoons
Stamped metal casting spoons are also known as Traditional or Canadian spoons. All display the distinctive back and forth wobble action as they run underwater based on their oval shaped cupped bodies. Casting spoon sizes range from ultra light 1/36 ounce for panfish up to over 3 ounces for big muskies, pike and lake trout. The most popular sizes are 1/4-3/4 ounce used for bass, walleyes and pike. All casting spoons have either a treble or a single (siwash) hook attached with a spilt ring which allows the hook to swing freely as the spoon wobbles.
Trolling spoons are much thinner and lighter than casting spoons, a typical 3″ trolling spoon only weighs about a 1/8 ounce which makes them too light for casting.. They are designed to be fished using a depth control trolling system such as off a downrigger or diving plane. With the wide fluttering action they are an excellent lure choice for walleyes.
When fishing in thick cover, aquatic weeds, wood and logs, you can’t beat using a weedless spoon to provoke a fish strike. Most feature a single hook design welded on the body with a wire guard to prevent most snags. Experiment with different retrieve methods. Try twitching and pausing letting the spoon settle into open holes. Or straight retrieve over and through the cover. Tip the hook with a trailer for added attraction using a soft plastic grub or pork rind. Weedless spoons come in 1/4 ounce up to 1-1/8 ounce.
When conditions are right during the summer months, large predator fish like pike will take refuge in thick cover. This is an ideal situation for using surface spoons. When cast over heavy matted vegetation the spoon floats with the hook riding upward avoiding being caught up on snags. Most surface spoons are made from plastic’s with a few in wood with having an added attractor, mainly rubber skirts. When fishing surface spoons point the rod tip directly at the spoon whether you’re retrieving straight or using a jerk pause method. Upon a fish strike, never set the hook until you feel the pressure of the fish, then set the hook. As with all surface lures fish have a tendency to miss the lure, keep the lure moving even if the fish misses usually they will come back to strike again.
When you locate a deep water school of fish such as walleye on your electronics, one of the best presentations to reach them is vertically jigging. Jigging spoons are made of metal or tungsten, are flat, thick and heavy and flash when jigged. They are designed to get down quickly reaching the deep water holding fish. When fishing jigging spoons all of the action is applied by the angler using short jerks to encourage strikes, but keep in mind many strikes happen on the fall of the jigging spoon as well. Keep a watch on your line as it falls, if it stops or twitches set the hook. The best tackle for jigging spoons is low stretch line of 12-20 lbs with a medium to medium heavy fast action rod.
Submerged plants are completely underwater and are generally rooted in the bottom sediment. If flowers exist, they may extend above the surface of the water. Submerged plants exchange carbon dioxide for dissolved oxygen during the periods of photosynthesis which provides a relatively stable source of oxygen for a water based ecosystem. Submerged weeds make up the majority of fishing cover (weed flats and weedlines) that will attract walleye and northern pike. The submerged weed family consist of hundreds of species many introduced or exotic that grow prolifically and are considered to problematic in many lakes, rivers and streams. An example of this is Eurasian Watermilfoil
Most fishing articles relating to weeds refer to names such as cabbage, coontail, and eel grass. The following information is a guide for identifying the most common submerged plants that will attract game fish.
Claspingleaf Pondweed (Cabbage)
This plant is known to anglers as cabbage and has over 50 varieties in North America. Cabbage is both a deep and shallow water weed that has broad leaves and a brittle stems. They vary in colors from brownish red called tobacco cabbage to a light green leaf. Cabbage is the preferred choice of many large game fish and the most productive. Cabbage is also known as pike weed, muskie weed, and celery.
Coontail or also know as hornwort, is a dark olive green bushy submerged perennial plant that grows in clumps or dense colonies that forms a canopy type cover in shallow water. The tips of branches are crowded with leaves giving it a “coontail” appearance. The submerged colonies of coontail provides excellent habitat and cover for bait fish as well as other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.) which attracts most predator game fish. The fruits of coontail are consumed by ducks and it is considered a good wildlife food.
Eelgrass is a rooted shallow water plant found in flowing water. It has long, thin, ribbon-like leaves (1/2 – 3/4 inches wide) that are commonly 3 to 4 feet long. The vein pattern in the leaves of eelgrass is very distinctive and resembles celery. Eelgrass forms dense colonies dominating other submerged plants to grow. The submerged portions of eel grass provides dense underwater structure as an excellent habitat for bait fish and invertebrates. Northern pike favor eelgrass during the summer months. Other common names include: Tape grass and wild celery.
Elodea is a rooted multi-branched perennial submerged plant that grows in cool fertile water to depths of approximately 10 feet. It is identified by its deep green color with 3 to 4 leaves attached directly to the stem. This weed develops quickly and provides good early season action, it attracts bait fish and bass along with other large game fish. Elodea has no known direct food value to wildlife but is used extensively by insects and invertebrates. Other common names include: Waterweed and walleye weed.
Algae are a basic water plant, some are composed of tiny single cells that float or suspend in the water giving a green, brown, or at times a red color to the water known as “bloom.” Others are multi celled that forms a thin and stringy or hair-like dark green slime commonly know as pond scum. While still others resemble submerged plants but without a true root system this is known as sandgrass. Algae although primitive, provides benefits to water systems by stabilizing bottom sediments and giving cover for small animals such as aquatic insects, snails, and scuds, which are valuable fish food.
Planktonic algae, are floating microscopic single celled plants usually existing suspended in the upper few feet of water often reaching bloom proportions during the summer months based on temperature, light, nutrients making the water appear brownish or pea soup green.
Filamentous algae are multi-celled that form into a mat of long chains or threads called filaments that resembles wet wool. Filamentous algae starts growing along the bottom in shallow water appearing fur-like, attaching to rocks, drowned wood, and other aquatic plants. As the production of oxygen increases it will float to the surface forming large mats, known as “Pond Scum.” Filamentous algae has no direct food value to wildlife.
Chara is the most advanced plant of the algae family though often confused with submerged plants. Chara commonly know as “sandgrass” is gray-green, branched with no root system, it grows in short thick mats, covering the lake bottom like a carpet. It can grow to depths of 30 feet, but is more common in shallower water. The stems/branches are brittle and hollow with rough ends, when crushed it emits a foul musty garlic like odor, often why it is called muskgrass or skunkweed. Sandgrass is beneficial promoting water clarity and lake bottom stabilization. During the mid summer through fall, walleyes and perch will be found on sandgrass flats.