Here’s a look at the main gear I use when trolling for kings on rivers like the Sacramento…though I have run the same stuff with good results on rivers all the way to Alaska and back.
The Rod: Lamiglas XCC 934 GH
When I’m downstream trolling for salmon on rivers like the Sacramento, I’ve yet to find a rod I like better than the XCC 934 GH. It has just the right action in the tip to allow for fish to hang onto my plug or spinner – and tons of backbone to whip the largest of kings.
The Reel: Shimano Tekota 300LC
These babies are virtually indestructible (I still use one every day that once flew out of the boat and skidded down the freeway!), they have smooth drags and plenty of torque. The linecounter feature is extremely handy for keeping track how far back behind the boat my gear is.
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The Lures: Spinner Dave’s Custom Designs
I love to build my own spinners and Spinner Dave’s online store carries an amazing array of colors, shapes and sizes of salmon spinner components. I’m a big fan of chartreuse/green blades and chartreuse UV hootchie skirts. Dave also carries plenty of pre-made spinners as well and his website is full of excellent resources.
The Lures: Luhr Jensen 14 Kwikfish
When trolling downhill in a river, I want a plug that doesn’t dive too much. The Luhr Jensen K14 Kwikfish fits the bill nicely.
The Lures: Yakima Bait T-50 Flatfish
The wide-seductive wobble of the T-50 FlatFish gets it done all fall long for me when trolling downstream for kings.
The Hooks: Mustad KVD Triple Grip Elite
Okay, okay…so they are designed by a bass guy, but believe me when I tell ya these VanDam hooks are sharp buggers and rearly hold fish with that turned in point (kinda like a Gamakatus EWG). They are a little lighter than I’d like in some situations but overall I’ve been stoked with these things — which are the first Mustads I’ve used with any confidence.
The Line: P-Line Spectrex Braid
For me, braid is the only way to go for plug fishing…and I like P-Line’s Spectrex. The thin diameter cuts the water and allows plugs to dive deeper. It is extremely durable – which is a good thing when big kings, sharp rocks and fallen timber are involved.
The lack of stretch also allows me to use rods with nice, soft tips, which are essential to plug pulling.