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By Mack's Lure Pro Staff, Captain John Littlefield
Dodgers are trolled out in front of a lightweight lure, such as a spinner, hoochie, fly, or spoon, and serve to draw fish into your spread.
As a charter captain on Lake Michigan, I utilize Mack's Lure dodgers daily to put more trout and salmon in the cooler.
The two dodgers I utilize for Lake Michigan trout and salmon are the Double D Dodger 7.6" and the Sling Blade 9" — both have a time and place. However, each is an excellent option for trout and salmon on the Great Lakes.
The Double D Dodger, which features a broader profile than the Sling Blade, displaces more water and offers a "snappier" action and more "thump." This Mack's Lure dodger is my go-to lake trout presentation when fished in front of a spinner, fly, or hoochie.
Due to its broad shape, the Double D is more speed-dependent than the Sling Blade and excels at slower speeds — generally less than about two mph. Any faster and the dodger will spin out and lose its attractive side-to-side sashay. The maximum speed a Double D can be trolled fluctuates with varying currents and different lures behind the dodger. Predominantly, I will use Double D mainly behind downriggers when lake trout are the primary target.
I first started using the Sling Blade 9" dodger during the 2018 charter season. It is, by far, the most versatile dodger that I have fished. It can be fished slow or fast. The shape of the Sling Blade prevents it from "spinning out" at higher speeds. Instead, modify its action by adding a slight bend, creating a banana-like shape.
When integrating spoons or plugs into my trolling spread (where a faster speed is desirable), I always incorporate at least one Sling Blade 9" dodger and a fly on a downrigger. The dodger then adds flash near the middle of the trolling spread. Quite often, these are the most productive rods in the spread. When targeting salmon, or a mixed bag, the Sling Blade 9" is my attractor of choice.
It is an excellent choice when wind and waves make speed control difficult because the Sling Blade maintains its side-to-side action, whether moving faster or slower than your desired speed.
A larger dodger like the Sling Blade 9" or Double D Dodger 7.6" is best fished on beefy tackle that can handle both large rigs and large fish.
When fished behind downriggers, I prefer a shorter fiberglass rod (8') with a lot of flex, such as the Shimano TDR with a medium-light power. These rods are paired with a Daiwa Sealine SG47LC3B reel and spooled with 20-lb. Slime Ultra Clear. Often, I'll troll a dodger and fly combo 10- to 30-feet behind the downrigger weight, though usually around 15-feet.
Behind the Sling Blade or Double D Dodger (and in front of the lure) should be a stretch of high-quality fluorocarbon line. I like to use lengths between 18- to 24-inches. A shorter leader length will impart more action on your lure, and a longer leader length will give your lure less action.
I prefer to use a quality shock-absorbing fluorocarbon, such as Sunline System Leader's 20- or 30-lb. test. However, using a fluorocarbon fishing line that is too light or brittle will result in unexpected break-offs from thrashing or hard-striking fish. So instead, at one end of your leader, tie on a high-quality ball bearing swivel, and at the other, tie on your favorite spinner, fly, or hoochie.
One final tip is to combine a Sling Blade 9" or Double D Dodger 7.6 with a Flash Lite Troll 2-Blade. The Flash Lite Troll 2-Blade features counter-rotating Flash Lite Blades that provide 360-degree flash and result in 90% less drag than metal gang trolls. Adding the Flash Lite Troll, which is also available in a 3-Blade and 4-Blade option will help your presentation bring in more fish from further distances, as it mimics a school of baitfish.
The art of dodger fishing dates back to before our time, and it is just as effective today as it has ever been. The options to customize your spread are endless, with all of the colors and sizes of dodgers available from Mack's Lure. However, the modern Great Lakes angler overlooks the value of the dodger for successful fishing, with plastic rotating flashers being all the rage nowadays.
Captain John Littlefield is a fishing guide on the Lake Michigan waters of Grand Traverse Bay, Platte Bay, and Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay.
For further questions on rigging or to book a guide trip, email Captain John at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.littlefieldsportfishing.com.