No Bait, No Problem

by: Mark Romanack

Those of us who enjoy chasing salmon and lake trout have come to the conclusion that laying hands on frozen, fresh or cured bait for trolling with meat rigs is becoming increasingly difficult. Limited supplies of whole and cut herring commonly used by salmon fishermen for bait has thrown a monkey wrench into the pans of countless anglers.

Without access to critical natural baits, the options for targeting salmon and trout during the spring, summer and early fall get a little dicy. Some soft plastics on the market claim to replicate “cut bait”, but most of us who have tried these products are scratching our heads in frustration.

Using other more readily available bait fish is also an option, but most of these bait fish simply don’t work well in combination with commercially produced “meat heads” designed to give the bait the ideal rotation in the water.


A better option are “cut plugs” or “rotating plugs” designed to duplicate the action of a fresh or frozen herring cut to rotate enticingly in the water. There are a number of these plastic plugs on the market, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The Yakima Bait Spin Fish is a cut plug, but it also is engineered to feature a two piece design that makes it possible to fill the plug with chunks of fresh bait, cured baits, canned tuna fish or scent products like Pro Cure’s Super Gel. The result is a cut plug that looks like and smells like real bait rotating in the water.

The action, flash and scent stream that the Spin Fish creates in the water does the best job of replicating real bait fish, making it the best option when supplies of herring are scarce.


The Spin Fish comes factory rigged with a two hook harness tied on premium fluorocarbon line. This harness is tied long for clear water applications or anglers can simply cut down the leader when fishing in off color water or when it’s necessary to speed up the plug rotation a touch.

For those who enjoy tweaking their tackle, anglers can tie their own harnesses using lighter line and smaller hooks to create a move lively action on the Spin Fish.


Many anglers have great success trolling the Spin Fish clean without the aid of any attractor directly behind a downrigger, diving planer or sinking line such as lead core. Varying the lead behind the downrigger, diver or sinking line influences the rotation greatly. It’s important to vary lead lengths to determine the rotation fish prefer on any given day.


Many anglers prefer to team up the Spin Fish with another popular Yakima Bait product known as the Fish Flash. Fish Flash is a triangle shaped flasher that spins in the water on its’ own axis. The result is a ton of fish attracting flash with very little drag or resistance.

In clear water it’s best to rig the Spin Fish 60 or even 72 inches behind the Fish Flash. In stained or off color water, a shorter 40 to 50 inch leader between the Fish Flash and Spin Fish works best. This set up fishes nicely off from downriggers, diving planers, in-line weights and also sinking lines.


Many believe that the Spin Fish is most effective when fished in combination with a paddle style rotator. Both eight and 11 inch paddles are popular among chinook and coho anglers.

A leader about 40 inches in length between the Spin Fish and the rotator is considered about perfect for getting the desired rotation at trolling speeds ranging from 1.8 to 2.2 MPH. This trolling speed is on the “slow side” of normal for salmon trolling and it’s one of the primary reasons that more anglers have not discovered how effective cut plugs can be on salmon and trout.

A Spin Fish and rotator combination fishes productively on downriggers, diving planers and all the common sinking line types. This opens up the option of presenting Spin Fish at a host of depths and also makes it possible to fish out away from the boat with the help of planer boards.


Spin Fish comes in a host of fishy colors. Some of the favorites among salmon fishermen include the Double Trouble, Metallic Silver Chartreuse Head/Glo Body, Silver FireTiger, Silver Scale and Silver Clown Shoes.


The Spin Fish is available in four sizes including the four inch, three inch, 2.5 inch and two inch models. The three and four inch sizes are the top picks among salmon anglers and the trout fishermen favor the two and 2.5 inch models.


The lack of fresh, frozen and cured cut bait has really put a monkey wrench in the plans of salmon trollers who like to use meat rigs. Thankfully, the Spin Fish closely replicates this presentation and doesn’t require access to whole or cut herring.

Easy to rig, easy to stuff with bait, canned tuna or scent products and easy to fish clean or with a host of attractors, the Spin Fish is at home on angler boat targeting salmon and trout.