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Reflections on spoons: a closeup look at one of the best trolling lure styles for mixed-bag action.

There are many effective trolling lures, but in my experience nothing beats the overall strike-getting ability of a flashy metal spoon. My go-to lure is the 5-inch spoon, such as the No. 2 1/2 Huntington Drone spoon in the polished metal finish. The spoon gets everything from big Spanish mackerel, school kings and tuna to jack crevalle and gag grouper.

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You'll lose fewer fish by running a short length (try 12 to 15 inches) of at least No. 4 wire in front of the spoon. It won't affect the spoon's action. Use a haywire twist to put a small black swivel between the wire trace and a mono leader. I use a No. 5 black Crane swivel. (Be sure the swivel is black and not too large--nothing is more frustrating than having a sharp-toothed denizen smack the swivel instead of the lure.) And there's a bonus: The swivel doubles as a handhold for swinging smaller fish onboard.

Clear mono leaders from 10 to as many as 20 feet in 50-pound test get the job done. Some trollers believe the extra length imparts additional freedom of action to a big spoon. The downside is that extra leader will need to be hand lined to boat a fish when using planers. I'll use a 30-pound-test mono leader when trolling a smaller spoon--such as a No. 1 or smaller Clark Spoon Squid--for smaller fish to minimize stifling the lure's action.

Many gamesters such as Spanish mackerel, blackfin tuna, king mackerel and bonito are school fish. Instantly improve your odds of multiple catches by resisting the urge (and it's a strong one) to pull back on the throttle the second the first rod goes down. Hold off for a few seconds, which will seem like an eternity as line screams out, maintain headway and frequently you'll get a second, or third, hit on another spoon.

Nothing gets the avid spoon troller's pulse pounding faster than breaking fish on top. And nothing can bring the excitement to an end quicker than blasting through the middle of the school. Resist the urge to target the center. Instead, methodically work the fringe of the school. Try to determine the general direction of movement of the body of fish. Let the spoon do its job and draw fish out as you troll the edges of surface-feeding game fish. Experts move with and in front of the school, swinging the boat away before intercepting the body of fish. This allows the lures to swing in front of the fish, but keep the noisy engine and boat hull away. Bottom line: Care in approaching topwater feeders can keep the action going and going.

If gamefish are observed to feed on a particular size bait try to match the spoon size to the fish's prey. It's a basic tenet of fishing. But when blind trolling I'm inclined toward larger spoons. More spoon means more flash, and that tolls in gamesters from farther away. That's especially important if water clarity is limited. It's almost impossible to go too large--everybody knows the 6-inch spoon that got glommed by a hungry, 12-inch fish!

With the wide variety of effective trolling lures for grouper it's all too easy to overlook the simple metal spoon. I've had excellent success trolling gag grouper on spoons worked deep. For example, in 25- to 30-foot depths I'll rig the spoon behind a No. 2 planer. You can use a smaller or larger planer depending on the depth. Keep in mind larger planers require a stouter rod and reel to handle the increased pressure due to water resistance. The bonus is that a bucket mouth gag is a heck of a lot easier to disentangle from a spoon's single big hook than any of the multi-trebled deep plugs.

You don't need to rely on planers to drag spoons deep. Rigging can be as simple as an in-line egg sinker or trolling drail to get the spoon down. Spoons work for a variety of fish when run off down riggers or--dare I say it--reels spooled with wire trolling line. Deep trolling grouper on Monel nickel-alloy wire line (typically 45-pound-test wire) is nothing new. The wire does demand c' some on-the-water experience spooling and handling the so; material, but how else can you sink a 1-ounce metal spoon 25 feet down using no planers, no down riggers, no lead weights or other terminal tackle? After trolling wire line for more than 25 years, I think the difficulty in fishing with the material is largely overplayed by those unfamiliar with its basic effectiveness and relative ease of use. Note that "springy" stainless steel wire trolling line is somewhat more difficult to handle than the "softer" nickel alloy wire line.

If you want to instantly up your trolling score for a wide range of gamefish try feeding 'em a spoon.

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Title Annotation:OFFSHORE
Author:Babbitt, Brion
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Nov 1, 2012
Words:811
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