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Pro Tips: The Basics of Kokanee Dodgers

Pro Tips: The Basics of Kokanee Dodgers

By Danny Coyne

One of the best ways to improve your hook-up success while Kokanee fishing is by using a dodger as the main attractant. Do lake trolls, such as the Willow Leaf, Ford Fender and Gang Trolls work? Yes, but there is a time and place to use them, such as early spring when long-lining on the surface while the Kokanee are in the upper water column. Once the water temperature starts to warm, the fish tend to go deeper – this is when using Kokanee dodgers will put the odds in your favor.

Most effective dodgers for Kokanee fishing

The two types of dodgers that are most effective when trolling for Kokanee are the Mack’s Lure Double D Dodger and Original Sling Blade Dodger.

Mack’s Lure Double D Dodger

The Double D Dodger comes in three different sizes – 4.4-, 5.8- and 7.6-inch. The smaller, 4.4-inch size it the most effective to use when Kokanee fishing as it has features that no other dodger can imitate. At the top of the Double D Dodger is five attachment holes to set your mainline. Each attachment point will make the dodger swing away from the boat. For reference, the diagram on the dodger itself will make it easy to know which hole you should be fishing out of.

This feature is great when you are fishing near the surface, as it acts like a side planer and takes your presentation away from the path of the boat. This is important because, as the fish move away from the boat, they are pushed to the side directly into your presentation. This features also comes in handy when you are stacking lines off the downrigger, as each line an be offset from the other to help avoid line tangles.

The Double D Dodger also has a speed up and slow down action to it, similar to the action you get when you make ‘S’ turns in your boat. This erratic action really entices the Kokanee to strike you lure!

Mack’s Lure Original Sling Blade Dodger

The Original Sling Blade Dodger also comes in multiple sizes, though we find that the 4” and 6” versions are most effective for Kokanee in the majority of the lakes within the Pacific Northwest. What is great about these Sling Blade Dodgers compared to other dodgers on the market is that they are made from light stainless steel that can be easily tuned to manipulate the action of your presentation. Due to their flexibility, you can troll faster with a slight bend or slower with a significant bend.

How to select dodger colors for Kokanee fishing

Dodgers come in numerous amounts of color variations and sometimes it can be overwhelming on which colors you should have within your arsenal or tackle. Some of the most important items to take into consideration when choosing your dodger colors are the water clarity, depth in which you are fishing, and the light conditions. Think of contrast rather than colors. The less light available, the more contrast is needed, which is produced by darker colors. The lighter days, the brighter colors will prove to work as the light will reflect well. Dodgers with UV colors are an excellent option as UV requires less light to hold colors. It really comes down to establishing a pattern. Keep switching colors out between your dodgers and lures until you find the winning formula.

How to determine leader length for Kokanee fishing

Leader lengths is one of the most important parts of an effective presentation for Kokanee. The leader length will determine the amount of action that is transferred from the dodger to the lure. To determine leader lengths, it comes down to the type of lure you will be using.

There are essentially two types of lures that you will be using when kokanee fishing. The first would be a lure with its own side-to-side action, such as a Pee Wee Wiggle Hoochie. Alternatively, you can use a lure that does not have its own side-to-side action, such as a hoochie, Wedding Ring or fly.

Here’s a simple formula to help you choose the correct leader length when fishing behind a dodger. This formula is used for lures that don’t have their own action, such as the aforementioned hoochie, Wedding Ring or fly.

Late Winter and Early Spring Leader Lengths

The fish are not as active and slow trolling with slower action lures is usually the key in getting these lethargic Kokanee to strike. Since we want to slow down the action of the lure, you will want to run a bit longer leaders than you would in the late spring and summer periods.

Leader Formula for Late Winter and Early Spring: 2.5 to 3.5 times the length of your dodger

Late Spring and Summer Leader Lengths

As the warmer weather rolls in and the water temperatures jump up, the Kokanee will become more active and will strike a more aggressive-moving lure. This is the time of year that we shorten our leaders up so that the action from the dodger can really transfer to the lure.

Leader Formula for Late Spring and Summer: 2 to 2.5 times the length of your dodger

Leader Lengths for Lures with Their Own Action

For lures that have their own action, such as plugs, spoons or specialty lures like the Pee Wee Wiggle Hoochie, we tend to run longer leaders so that they dodger doesn’t interrupt the lures’ own action.

Leader Formula for lures with their own action: 4 to 5.5 times the length of the dodger

If running lures behind a set of gang trolls or lake troll flashers, leader lengths from 24- to 30-inches can be effective.

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