Modifying Fishing Gear for Better Performance





Modifying Gear/Tackle ;  Many times a fisherperson can modify an existing manufactured product to fit a more usable item for local area usages.  Most of the fishing gear / tackle is manufactured to fit a broad range of intended usages which may or may not be totally effective in a specific area or needs.   This could include triple hooks, barbed hooks, lighter leader than local requirements, even different colors which may vary even daily.


  (1) As seen in the above LH header photo, a corky is added between the two hooks on a steelhead/salmon drifting roe lure in a river, either from the bank or boat.  This corky adds just enough buoyancy that the lure is raised slightly off the bottom along with giving a bit of color if the eggs could be partly stripped off.  This particular set up is for steelhead, where a larger gob of roe would be used for salmon.


  (2)  Make changes to the rotating triangle fishing attractors, (a) like special or different colored reflective tapes and (b) a large round dot simulating a winking eye when the flasher rotates.  (c) Also notice on the flashers below the 3/16" hole drilled in one of the wings, which will produce a string of bubbles, adding to the attractors effectiveness.  (d) You can also add black electrical tape to the back or 1/2 of the back, creating more of a contrast.


Some modified triangle flashers.  Use your imagination


  (3)   If fishing in weed infected waters even using ball bearing swivels seem to plug up worse them the bead chain  swivels. and given the need to clean your gear more often, the bead chain swivels offer more opportunity to eliminate twisted line.  Now another twist is to add an Oregon Tackle weed-guard over the 6 bead bead chain.   This consists  of a simple clear plastic cover that goes over a bead chain swivel.  This only requires a slight split in the upper end using a Dremel part off stone and then pulling the bead eye through the plastic guard using a crochet hook.  It also requires a slight rear trim of the plastic to clear the snap.


Here you see Oregon Tackle weed guard installed over a 6 bead chain swivel



  (4)   For lake fishing where you want a smaller flasher, you can add a spinner blade to the rear of a flasher, again for more attractiveness.


Here you see a smaller 3" mini - mini flasher with a spinner blade
attached to the rear.

  (5)  If getting short strikes, tie your hooks so they drop back behind the lure like seen in the photo below.  Here the single triple hook was removed and two 5/0 red plated Octopus hooks that were tied about 4 1/2" apart.  Five 6mm beads were added on the leader which moved the front hook back to where, when in use, the eye of the hook is at the rear of the plug.  The red beads and the red hooks very likely could simulate a wounded and bleeding herring.    This redistributed weight slows the action of this plug a slight amount, but not enough to effect it's fish catching ability, while actually improving the hookup to retention percentage.   

This method has also proved worthwhile in rigging Apex plugs.

Here you see a Brads Super Cut Plug tied with modified trailer hooks

  (6)  To add effectiveness of a lead jig, or trolling spoons, add a small spinner blade to the rear as seen below.   When using spinner type blades to be used in salt water, spray the blade with clear enamel while they are still new and shiny.

Here you see 2 lead jigs that has a spinner blade added between the jig
 & the hook and a factory spoon that also has a spinner blade attached

   (7)  Add small Spin-N-Glo or Smile blade to front of hoochie to improve fish catching performance when trolling with conjunction with a flasher, which imparts action to the non-action hoochie.


Here you see 2 hoochie rigs, one with a Smile blade & the other
with a #4 Spi-N-Glo attached in front as an added attractor

  (8)  Also you can add a small hoochie to the front of a rigged herring for more effectiveness while not effecting the bait's action.  This seems to work quite well for Spring Chinook.


Here you see a rigged herring with a #4 Spin-N-Glo attached in front as an added attractor


  (9)  If you are having trouble achieving the preferred spin on your herring, either whole or cut plugged, bend the bait in an arc and use a round toothpick poked into the skin along the centerline, running lengthwise to hold this bait in a bend to maintain the spinning action.  This can be a way to salvage some bait had is older and getting mushy, which may save the day for you.

  (a) Also, especially for cut plugging herring, you can clip part of herring's tail off to slow the spin down.

  (10) Most plugs come with triple hooks attached.  You may consider changing out these hooks to singles with a swivel or bead chain between them and the plug eye.  With today's requirement that we release "Non Clipped" fish in a manner that is consistent with conservation of hopefully allowing them to return to their home rivers and spawn.  Multiple hooks in a fish makes this requirement hard to do.  By converting to single hooks, or at least reducing one of the two to singles improves your odds in releasing a healthy fish.

In deciding what works and what may be detrimental to the plug's proper functioning, I have not come up with this myself, but have borrowed what well known fishing guides have done and the lure successfully catches fish.   On the Kwik Fish shown below, you will notice the triple is attached directly to the barrel swivel.  This is accomplished by using a set of HEAVY DUTY side cutting pliers and cutting the eye of the triple hook close to the juncture where it is welded to the third hook.  Now carefully bend it sideways simulating a Siwash hook's open eye.  This hook is usually hard, but doable.  You may break a few, but when done properly will be as strong as the factory Siwash open eyed hooks that are made that way.  The belly single Siwash hook is attached by using two split rings.  This accomplishes a couple of important things, (1) it positions the hook point down for better hookups and (2) it still allows a sort of a swivel, cutting down the chance of the fish using the plug as leverage to become unhooked.

The Wriggle wart shown below uses a bead chain, split ring and a #2/0 Sickle hook.    This is very effective for fall Coho in rivers and can be readily removed from natural ruddered fish.


Here you see 2 salmon plugs with the hooks modified.  The Kwik Fish where the hooks have been modified & the lower Wriggle Wart where both triple hooks were removed


 (11)  Change out hooks on salmon trolling gear to larger size up to the limits of the spoon or bait.  Where you are not using egg roe or prawn where the fish will be feeding on a bait that they may be familiar with or are picking it up because of the smell and can feel a large hook, for trolling spoons, whole or cut plug herring move up to larger hooks.  Even to 5/0 or 6/0 size.  The larger the hook in these situations, the better in my book.  If you go too large, it can change the action of a spoon however, but this may be to your benefit.  I have sat in a hog-line for late river Coho fishing and got a pretty good lesson from the boat next to us.  He changed hook sizes on his spoons until he got the action he wanted in relationship to the river flow at that time.

  (12)  There is a company calling themselves NW Cove which sells their Q Cove breakaway flasher.  For more information on it and how to modify your existing Hot Spots  CLICK HERE
.  Also there are a t least 2 other companies who build conversion kits to do this, Good Day Fishing and Simon Wobblers.

  (13) When tying slip style leaders, use a slightly lighter colored line for slip wrapping the slip knot.  Others may use a Dacron line for this and seems to allow for better adjustment.  This helps identify that style as compared to a regular solid tie.  Also it has been found that by adding a small plastic bead between the hooks, that IF a fish gets hooked only on the front hook, this bead helps protect the chance of the front hook being forced into the rear hook's knot, breaking it off.  Here I leave the knot leader ends long, so once the hooks are adjusted to fit the herring size, the leader tails can be pulled tighter and then cut off.

Here you see a mooching style slider leader tied 


  (14)  Adding a barrel swivel between the spoon and hook improves your chances of the salmon not throwing the hook during a fight.   This swivel allows the fish to twist and turn without being able to use any leverage, compared to the hook being attached directly to the spoon.  

In the photo below are two salmon spoons that have a barrel swivel between the spoon and hook.  The top is a original 40+ year old commercial Canadian Wonder #5 1/2 spoon and the bottom is a 3" Coyote spoon.  The 40 year old  commercial Canadian Wonder spoon was made that way, while the Coyote was modified.  From this you can figure out that adding this swivel is not anything new.

Here are 2 spoons using a barrel swivel between the spoon & hook

  (15)  If you desire a slightly different action when trolling or casting a spoon for fall river Coho, consider using a French spinner blade used for trolling/casting spoon.  Take a spinner blade of your choice (I like the embossed/fluted Indiana style in size 5 to 9) and drill a small hole near the outer end of the blade, creating a spoon blade.  In this hole place a split ring attached to a Sickle Siwash hook.  I then attach a leader about 18" long to the spoon.  At the juncture of the mainline end use a 3 way swivel, one to the mainline, the other to the leader to the spoon and the third to a sinker.   The sinker I like best is a pencil lead pushed into rubber tubing that the opposite end is attached to the swivel eye, just like the old steelhead dropper leads of years gone by.  You need the weight because this blade is a lot lighter than a regular spoon.  This spoon has the tendency to follow, then occasionally dart from side to side to the extent that the leader length allows.

  (16) When fishing for late spooky Coho in the sound, make up a lightweight floating lure simulating a candlefish out of "backing rod foam" found in a building supply store.  This foam is round, light gray and available in either 3/8" or 1/2" bulk rolls and is made to take up gaps around windows etc. before the trim is installed.   Cut it to simulate a baitfish, (angled diagonally for about 1/2 of a 6" piece.  Hook it very similar to a cut plug herring, leaving the rear hook trail.
  This lure can be trolled on top of the water a distance behind the boat.  You will probably need to place a light weight ahead of it Depending on how you cut the head (straight or angled) you can achieve even a popping or darting action.

Here is a simple top water anchovy/candlefish imitator lure  

  (17)  Use a Luhr Jensen 4 1/2" hog nose salmon plug with the hooks removed instead of jet diver for back-trolling when river fishing.  This plug seems to have somewhat of a erratic motion at times that may trigger a bite to your lure.



(18)  OK, this may not be modifying tackle, but more of a housekeeping/tackle box cleanliness situation.  How many times have you had tied your up tackle get married together and it takes you longer to untangle than cutting it off and retying?  I do wrap a lot of leaders on foam pipe insulation, which works well, but the one I have had problems with is that I use Brad's Super Cutplugs a lot, AND I retie the hooks to my specifications (as seen in one of the photos above).  I also use soft drink straws cut in 1 1/4" lengths to captivate the leader.  However if more than even a couple get together in the tackle box when it is closed and after the lights go out at night, they seem to become romantically attracted.


The idea of storing them individually, economically and yet readily available seemed desirable.  I complained that the wife's Zip-Lock sandwich bags were really to large.  Why not the 1/2 sandwich bags she asked?  Not being that familiar with kitchen items, it sounded like an idea to pursue.  She bought a box of 100 of these 3 1/4" X 6 1/2" bags for less than $3.  They are a tad bit larger than actually needed, but simply fold it over as seen in the top image in the photo below.     Then I found for trout tackle, even these were too large.  So why not bring out the vacuum packer and burn two bars close together down the middle vertically.  Then with scissors, cut between the burns making 2 smaller bags

Here is are my lures, one stored in & the other shown outside the 1/2 sandwich bags



(19) Now, here is a modification you can do to the large rotating type "skateboard" type of flashers.  They were designed to rotate in a large rolling motion, which required for you to maintain a speed of approximately 3 miles per hour.  What if your needs required a lesser speed?  Pro Troll then added a small wing on the rear section, which they call an "Agitator Fin", which gives the flasher more KICK allowing the slower speed, even 1 MPH, yet still achieve the full rotation.


But what if you have a lot of the older flashers, even different brands that do not have this fin?  In the LH photo below you will see the late factory flasher with the fin on the left.  In the middle is one I have added a fin, and on the right is a unaltered flasher.  The far right photo is a angled side view of this fin, showing more clarity of what it consists of.  This new added fin was made of a section of a faded out electric fence warning sign.  The size is 9/16" X 2" and simply JB Welded onto the flasher using the same angle as the new fins.   You will need to cut and peel back the tape, then remove the adhesive with rubbing alcohol before trying to glue it on.  For adding it to the older Pro trolls, there is a mark on these that you can use as reference to glue it over.    Update -- the JB Weld does not hold as good as I had hoped, but it does leave a good base when Super Gluing the fin back on.


Here are an example of flashers with the fin on the left, an added on fin and a naked flasher on the right Here a side view is shown



(20)   For those of you who fish for salmon and are required to use barbless hooks, here is an important item that Good Day Fishing makes that enhances these, or any other system WHEN USING BARBLESS HOOKS, is a small bungee shock cord, which they call the Green Weenie.  If you add this behind any flasher, in front of your leader, they are designed to keep just enough tension on the fish so that it has less of a chance to throw the barbless hook.  At rest, they are only 4" long, but extend to 8" when at full pull.  This distance is governed by a heavy cord INSIDE the green rubber tube.  This one is short enough that you do not have to use a 12' rod when landing the fish because of all the gear you have added behind your sinker.


Here is shown the Green Weenie from Good Day Fishing





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Originated 02-18-2013, Last updated 10-21-2017