Our Elders were the pioneers of fishing with metal attractors. There was a time when the Dodger was the “only” option available for Salmon fishermen on the west coast. Anglers are the consummate gear junkies and, as time has passed, have discovered new and better ways to draw in our prey. Plastic inline flashers soon became the norm in the 1990’s because of the minimal drag they generate as they are trolled. These flashers have remained the choice of top anglers and guides for the last few decades. As popularity has grown, so too has the number of manufacturers. From the top names in our industry to garage operations and even late night, in-home projects, flashers are being made by the thousands each year. Today, we do not simply use one flasher anymore. Because of these inline attractors, we have been able to increase the number of flashers to 2, or even 3 flashers per rod without creating so much drag that it takes our bait out of the strike zone.
But what makes a fish catching flasher? Color? Type of rotation? Size? Let us discuss these topics in detail for each of the more popular flashers on the market today and discover the best situations to utilize the multi-flasher setup. Let’s begin with our options:
History- The Konezone Flasher was born from an angler being frustrated with what was available on the market at the time. Instead of copying all other designs, Konezone developed an innovative shape based upon the look of a bicycle seat. Today, Konezone Flashers are found in almost every tackle store and in most tackle boxes.
Design- The smooth rounded shape gives the Konezone a sleek and near drag free design. Sizes include 4”, 6”, 7.5” and 9” versions. Konezone also has two points of connection on the rear of the blade, giving the angler an opportunity to adjust the action of your attractor without having to put on a differently designed flasher.
Color Options- Konezone offers the most options of any manufacturer when it comes to colors. Dozens of blade colors with an innumerable amount of tape options give the angler choices never before imagined. Most popular colors are the 50/50 two color flashers and the UV based blades and tapes.
Action- The slow roll action gives a bright and brilliant flash that other flashers do not create.
Summary- This is a favorite among a number of top anglers because of the slower roll and different action it imparts. Coupled with the adjustability and innumerable color and size options, Konezone flashers are a must have in almost every situation.
Hot Spot Agitator:
History- Hot Spot Lures was founded in 1969 and has been building flashers and dodgers for decades. These many years of manufacturing and on the water trial and error have given them an opportunity to create a flasher with perfect action, design and components.
Design- 7.5” and 9” clear blades are offered. The patented two bends per side is an original concept found only on these flashers. Great features of the Agitator include the brass eyelets, welded rings and Sampo swivels that will prevent line twists and allow your flasher extra strength and long term durability.
Color Options- 15 colors in total are offered in each size direct from the factory.
Action- The patented bends allow an angler to slow troll downstream and know that the flasher is still spinning while maintaining minimal drag against the flasher.
Summary- Because Hot Spot has been manufacturing flashers for so many years, coupled with its patented design and quality components, the Agitator belongs in every arsenal.
History- Gibbs-Delta has been in business since 1908 and is Canada’s largest and oldest tackle manufacturer. Dodgers and flashers have been a major part of the company for many decades, giving Gibbs-Delta unmatched expertise on the subject.
Design- Delta inline Flasher with a solid stainless wire through the body and the Gibbs Fish Witch with ball bearing swivels attached to brass bushings on either end. The Delta inline is known to spin slightly faster and with less drag compared to the fish witch. Sizes available are 4”, 6” and 8” blades.
Color Options- 13 colors available in the Fish Witch and 15 colors available for the Delta Inline direct from the factory.
Action- The Delta inline will be a straight, true running flasher with little resistance because the through-body wire will keep the blade from rotating of its axis. The Fish Witch will have a slight roll or wobble action similar to others on the market that use two points of connection.
Summary- The Delta inline flasher with its through body stainless steel wire will give you better awareness of your bait and a bite because you do not have 5-9 inches of plastic on the between your mainline and the leader. Gibbs-Delta has seen a rise in the use of multiple flashers as well which spawned their pre-made “Flashline” 2 or 4 blade flasher sets!
Nils Master VK-II:
History- Nils Master is a manufacturer from Finland that designs products for the popular Atlantic Salmon fisheries available in Europe. In recent years, their flashers have helped many competitive Salmon tournament anglers win thousands of dollars in money and prizes.
Design- The VK-II is a new and revolutionary design for fish attractors. It has a jointed body giving the flasher an erratic action. Multiple points in which to attach your mainline and leader exist to give distinctly different actions. 6.5” and 9.5” models are available.
Color Options- Numerous blade colors are available including chartreuse, gold, chrome and red. Tape options include the standard plaid and laser designs with some original custom tapes not common to us here in the NW.
Action- The VK-II can be set to rotate, slow roll with a change of direction or even have an incredibly erratic snapping action based upon the placement of the snaps on the front and back end of the flasher.
Summary- The VK-II is a relative unknown to us here on the west coast. However, its erratic action is also unknown to our salmon. Having a flasher with a different action then everyone else on the water can mean the difference in a slow day and one for the record books.
History- Short Bus Flashers is a newcomer to the industry having opened its doors less than 2 years ago. But don’t let its lack of age be mistaken for lack of experience. Short Bus has grown by leaps and bounds with several top guides enlisted on their Pro Staff.
Design- 5.5” or 8” Blades are offered.
Color Options- 13 standard colors, 2 UV options and 3 different patterns creates hundreds of possibilities including custom orders. The most popular colors are from the Blink and Hunter Series. Both are UV based color combinations with the Blink Series adding movement in a flasher by alternating colors on each side.
Action- Shortbus flashers spin at a speed of 25-35 rotations per minute, dependent upon the troll direction combined with the current speed. The larger flashers spin slower than the smaller blades but by only a rotation or two per minute.
Summary- Shortbus flashers are a local, made in the USA company. Short Bus has noticed a definite trend towards multi flasher setups with anglers using the 5.5” flasher in front of an 8” blade to add more motion and color. Short Bus offers such a multitude of tape options, that any angler can find the color combination they desire and have it shipped to them by the next business day.
History- The inline triangle design was first created by the original Fish Flash company. In 2010, Yakima bait purchased the business and has taken over production of the Fish Flash attractors. Yakima bait is currently making improvements to the original design and color options that we should see available this spring.
Design- Yakima bait has recently invested in injection molding equipment to make a consistent, well performing flasher. 4”, 6”, 8” and 10” sizes are offered.
Color Options- Clear Blades with 17 different tape options are available direct from the factory.
Action- The slow rolling, strobe like horizontal flash attracts fish from a substantial distance.
Summary- The Fish Flash is the original triangular inline flasher. It now has multiple copy cats. Duplication is the strongest form of flattery. These flashers were mimicked because they simply work!
Now begins the challenge. Which brand do you fish, when, what size, what color and how many? The answer is simple…there is no single answer. This spring you will see fish caught on every flasher in every color and in every variation. However, using more than one flasher at a time has been the topic of conversation amongst most anglers this past year. Let’s discuss the details of effectively fishing a multiple flasher setup.
Multiple Flashers: This technique works best in zone trolling applications. Zone trolling is when you are fishing a specific depth and are not constantly on the bottom with your rig. Because flashers do move, you risk losing lots of cash if you are using a multiple flasher setup while fishing the bottom two feet of the water column. Losing $20 in flashers on one snag can ruin a day of fishing quickly. Remember the purpose of a flasher; they are designed to bring fish closer to your bait trailing behind the attractor. Using two to four flashers in succession can be very effective in fisheries like the Willamette River or the lower Columbia when salmon will suspend in the water column and having more flash will help pull a fish from a distance. Multiple flashers will also increase catch rates when fishing dirty water during the turbid flows of spring after a heavy rain.
When fishing two flashers, the sizes can absolutely be the same. However, if fishing two different sized flashers, make sure to put the larger flasher closer to your bait with the smaller flasher above it. This will ensure that both blades will receive enough water flow to spin each flasher independently. When using three to four flashers in a row, it is best to have your flashers aligned smallest to largest. The more flashers, the less direct water each flasher will receive as you move down the line. If three to four flashers are attached, keep in mind that you are increasing the length of your leader. It will become difficult to net a fish if you include a 6’ leader behind your four flasher setup!
All of the information in this article is to be used as a simple guide as you take to the waters this spring in search of your limit of Chinook. Trial and error will always be the best way to learn what works best in each situation. Start the day with what you are most confident with. But, don’t be afraid to use your rod as a test subject: Change depths, colors, lures and of course the size, number and color of your flashers. In doing so, you will become a consistent angler and one of the best sticks on the water.