Great Lakes Trolling Flies


These (4) Great Lakes Trolling TyFlys are built using #4 2X strong treble hooks, 30 lb. high impact mono leaders. A Dodger, flasher or Spin Doctor gives action to the fly, causing the fly to flutter and weave thru the water. This action gives the fly the appearance that a salmon or trout (the doger, flasher, spin doctor) is chasing a bait fish. This natural action is what causes a lunker Salmon or Trout to take a quick swipe at the trailing fly. Salmon and trout can’t resist this type of presentation.

¬†In most anglers minds, the words “trolling” and “flies” don’t seem to fit together in the same sentence. But, truth be told, trolling flies behind flashers and dodgers is a very effective presentation to hook up with a giant salmon or trout.

Trolling flies are exactly what the name implies: flies designed for the sole purpose of being submerged in the water and trolled at varying depths , usually behind a flasher or dodger and used with a downrigger, planer board, deep planer or lead line. The difference between trolling flies and other fly patterns is that they are designed to look their best when moving underwater. Traditional flies are meant to imitate real live insects or minnows, were as Great Lakes trolling flies are designed to play into the voracious appetite and feeding habits of freshwater salmon and trout. The flasher and fly combination creates as much attention as possible, making it impossible for a Salmon and trout to resist. Trolling flies have really caught on in the past few years for many reasons. The biggest one being: They work!

 Salmon and Trout may see color, or they may see the light reflected off objects. However they see their prey, for the trolling fisherman, color is important. Visibility is determined by light waves that color re-emits. The fluorescent colors, fluorescent orange, fluorescent green and fluorescent pink re-emit the longest light waves, blues and greens are shorter and red, violet and brown have the shortest wave lengths and quickly fade to black. The amount of change will depend on the amount of light present. There is also
a biological phenomenon that occurs regularly each day that renders the forage prey of the fish invisible, conditions of the environment cause this occurrence. Salmon and trout are voracious eaters and they would soon eat all their prey without these periods of invisibility. The trolling fisherman can take advantage of this phenomenon by choosing colors with the most light emission to prolong somewhat the visibility of their prey offering.

Using a downrigger is probably the most common way to get the trolling fly to the level of the fish. It can be used for shallow fishing as well as for deep water fishing on all the Great lakes, especially during the summer months when fish go deep seeking cooler water. Great lakes trolling flies can be fished alone without any added tackle or attractors with good results, but most fishermen add spinners or flashers with the trolling fly. Another option that works well is to tie on a 3-0 or 4-0 dodger about three feet in front of the fly. It is a good idea to let out about 200 feet of line before attaching the line to the downrigger, this allows the fly to be far enough away from the boat not to spook the fish and allows the fly to work naturally.

Another effective method devised for trolling with flies is the use of lead core fishing line. This consists of a trolling rod or any rod to which a level wind reel or drag reel can be attached. Use 50 to 100 feet of backing and metered lead core line on the reel. Eighteen or twenty-seven pound colored leaded line works well, as the colors help you to judge the depth at which your fly will be presenting. Attached to the colored leaded line should be at least 20 to 40 feet of leader. The leader needs to be this long to get the fly far enough away from the leaded line, and the boat, so it will not spook the fish. It also allows the trolling fly to work naturally. A good weight for the leader and the backing could be twelve to fifteen pound low stretch mono line, and should always be lighter than the leadcore. See my article about leadcore line: