by Carmen Macdonald
Trolling spinners for salmon has gone big time. Just a scant few years ago, Tillamook Bay was the epicenter of salmon spinners. At this point, Tillamook has been replaced by Astoria. The much larger Buoy 10 fishery probably uses as many spinners a day as Tillamook uses in a season...there are just that many people fishing them there.
The effects on tackle stores has been dramatic. Now we find massive spreads of spinners where just a few years ago there were a just a fraction of this amount. Cruising these aisles, then looking closer, you'll notice one unifying factor in the selection- most all of the blades are nearly identical. Not the finishes, but the blades themselves. About all of them, whether smooth or hammered, faceted or not, white-backed, brass or nickel, are virtually all cascade style blades, with a couple notable exceptions.
The new Luhr-Jensen Hydro Vibe Extreme breaks the mold of the cascade style blade, offering anglers a completely unique blade with a vibration pattern different than any available on the market.
At a quick glance you can see the difference. The HydroVibe blade shows a large flat with hard angles towards the tip instead of a uniform curve throughout. On showing the lure to a longtime spinner angler, he could immediately see the intention. The large flat surface isn't as friendly when spinning around the shaft. It responds to the rotation with a tumultuous disturbance in the water, and for the angler, that's a beautiful thing.
The disturbance is heightened by a unique vent at the top of the blade. Grabbing water from the blade's exterior and passing it to the interior, it elevates the level of turbulence.
If your Dr. McCoy voice from Star Trek is in your head saying, "I'm an angler, not a hydrodynamic engineer!"- let's break it down a bit. I'm really proud to have been on the testing team for these spinners more than three years ago. When we put them down in 30-feet of water behind a 16-ounce lead in Astoria, you could read the vibration on the rod tip like the spinner was just 5-feet off of the rod tip. And even better, that rod tip got yarded to water with amazing regularity, all of this from a size 6 blade.
The size 6 blade is exceptionally universal. Where the fads have taken us to blades of massive proportion, growing numbers of spinner fisheries are showing the true strength of smaller blades. They can troll faster and cover more water. They anchor fish well and across many seasons. And where the drawback to smaller blades was that the vibration was difficult to feel on the rod (in places like Tillamook), the Hydro Vibe design delivers in that arena.
The finish palette is straightforward, including the best-of-the-best, but with a twist. The blades are plated in either gold or nickel. Gold is beautifully bright. Nickel is more inclusive of the silver salmon that are an equal goal in mixed fisheries like Buoy 10. Together, the blades deliver a salmon fishing system rather than focusing exclusively on chinook.
Hydro Vibe Hoochie models, just released this month, takes a similarly advanced and unique perspective on its design. Molded acrylic head holds a high-contrast eye. Two-tone skirts are modestly dressed with both crystal flash and flashabou that radiates light and motion.
The operable question often comes down to what a person needs and with Buoy 10 around the corner, it's a good question. Red and white is a dominant blade in the fishery and a great place to begin. Chartreuse green dot is a staple for chinook. Those two deliver a really solid foundation.
My next choices would be the Gold Fire Blue Chartreuse Double Dot, Nickle Fire Blue Dot and Nickel Ice Pink Dot, again for their universal nature across chinook and coho, as well as the fact that in recent years red beads (regardless of blade finish color) have been a key component of success across a number of anglers that I trust implicitly.
On hooks, I'd pinch the barbs on the stock trebles and stop there. The VMC Perma Steel hooks are both extremely sharp and hold up to saltwater. Some will change hooks to big singles. In discussing the Buoy 10 fishery with an angler who spent three weeks there last year, his comments were very interesting. His boat lost some fish due to barbless trebles- so they switched to singles. The unfortunate point here was that they started mixing in a few bleeders on the single hooks. I believe the exact comment was, "When we had bleeders, they were on the single hooks." It runs counterintuitive to much of what we hear in regards to single hooks being better to release fish, but this angler found that single hooks were often lodged deeper in the fish, and deeper does more damage.
Without getting into the debate about hooks, run a firm drag, keep the rod loaded...and have a blast!