® Luhr Jensen Technical Information Sheet #8822-561,Techniques for Catching Chinook Salmon Using KwikFish
TECH SHEET KwikFish FOR CHINOOK
By Buzz Ramsey
What started over 30 years ago as a local favorite, wrapping a sardine fillet to the belly of large size KwikFish
®,is now the most widely used salmon combi-nation on the West Coast.Sacramento River anglers were the first to successfully use KwikFish
in combina-tion with bait for Chinook Salmon.This bulletin focuses on the proper use of this high-action plug,how to correctly add a sardine fillet,plus some rigging tips that will help you catch more salmon.
The Luhr Jensen KwikFish
is a "banana-shaped" plug that has high action at even slow trolling speeds. Its body shape,weight,and lip design make it a great diving lure.It can be plunked,trolled or backtrolled from a boat and fished on a flatline (without a weight), in combination with a Jet Diver ™or with a sinker depending on river size,water depth,or current speed. Bank anglers use this popular lure by employing the cast/swing/retrieve method.
With your boat headed upstream above the area you wish to fish,row or run your motor just fast enough to hold even with the current,as though you were an-chored. Work your lure downstream below your boat. When you stop letting out line,the current will cause your lure to dive and wiggle.Then allow your boat to slowly slip downstream,keeping the lure actively work-ing in the current as you back your boat and trailing lure downstream through the holding water.
When trolling or backtrolling in water less than 10 feet deep,the standard KwikFish
can be fished without any additional weight.Simply let out 30 to 50 feet of line behind the boat and allow your lure to work in the current.Current speed and the distance your lure is behind the boat will affect how deep your KwikFish
will dive.Slow current or a short trolling distance (30 feet)produces a shallow dive,while strong current or a long trolling distance (50 feet)will produce a deeper dive.Remember,you want your lure to work close to the river bottom.
USING A JET DIVER
To make your KwikFish
dive deeper add a Jet Diver.The Jet Diver can be used instead of a sinker when trolling,backtrolling,or plunking a salmon size Kwikfish.Rigging is identical to the free-sliding backbouncing setup (see illustration on back),except you replace the sinker with a Jet Diver.Although there is a size 10 (popular for trout and steelhead),the most popular size Jet Diver for salmon are the 20,30,40,or 50.The number designation denotes the maximum diving depth each respective size Jet Diver is capable of reaching. However,this can vary greatly depending on the diameter of your line and how much you put out,current speed,and the size KwikFish
BACK BOUNCING KWIKFISH
Backbouncing with a weight is the most productive way to fish KwikFish
in deep (even roily)salmon holes that lack the right current to fish your lure on a flat line or in combination with a Jet Diver.The technique is much like backbouncing bait,as the amount of weight you use is critical.Use too much weight and your lure won't bounce out below your boat.Not enough weight and you may not feel the weight hit the bottom or you may not be sure where the bottom is in relationship to your Kwikfish. Once you’ve selected the right size sinker,you'll want to back-bounce or walk your outfit downstream from your boat until your line is at a 45-degree angle. With your weight suspended off the bottom 6 to 12 inches,backtroll your outfit through the slot.Since the depth can change,you will need to check for bottom occasionally.Backtrolling KwikFish
is identical to backbouncing bait except that once your KwikFish
is in position,it’s important to hold your rod steady and let your KwikFish
The best way to make your salmon-size (K14,K15 or K16)KwikFish
even more deadly is to add a fillet of sardine to its belly.It’s just a fact that you'll get more strikes and better hookups if you keep a fresh bait wrapped on your KwikFish
Although you can use herring,anchovy,smelt or sardine as your bait wrapper,sardine is most popular and available in most sporting goods stores. Start by filleting the sides off your baitfish and cutting them into rectangular pieces 7/8"x 1-1/2"for the K14 size,1"x 1-3/4"for the K15 and 1-1/8"x 2-1/ 2"for the K16.A pair of scissors works great for cutting your fillets to size and notching them so they fit around the belly eyelet.Your bait fillet doesn't have to be exact,about a third the length of your lure,but you'll find the above measurements handy when starting out. When wrapping a bait fillet to the belly of your Kwikfish,you will need to center it around the belly eyelet,(the balance point of the lure),with the skin side next to the lure body.You can use two pound test mono or Luhr Jensen Kwikfish Stretchy Thread
(elastic thread)as a wrapping material.By making 20 to 30 wraps,your fillet will conform to the shape of the lure body and not interfere with lure’s action.You can finish your wrap with two or three half-hitch knots.For best results,your fillet should be changed often -at least every hour.Tip:Wrap several lures the night before or (better yet)the morning of your trip and keep them in a small bait cooler.
WAIT BEFORE "SETTING THE HOOK"
The first time you feel a salmon pull your rod tip down while using a bait-wrapped Kwikfish you’ll swear a Great White Shark just struck.And although a salmon striking a Kwikfish will likely be the hardest strike you’ve ever felt, don’t set the hook until Mr.Salmon has pulled your rod down at least two more times.(That’s a total of three.)For whatever reason,waiting will increase your SINCE 1932 SINCE 1932 Visit us on the web at www.luhrjensen.com
#8822-561 Revised 051403 Litho in U.S.A. chances of actually hooking the monster,and if you’re using a levelwind (baitcasting)reel,make sure your thumb is firmly planted on the reel spool when you finally do set the hook.The only place I know of where anglers using Kwikfish don’t wait to set the hook is on the salmon rivers in Northern California.
My favorite rod for fishing Kwikfish is the Berkley ®Air-IM7 8'6"XH model in combination with a 5500 or 6500 Ambassadeur reel filled with 30 to 80 pound test Berkley Gorilla Tough ®or Stealth Spiderwire ®line combined with a 15 to 60 pound test leader. Generally speaking,lighter lines and leaders can be used when fishing the K10,12 and 13 size Kwikfish or when fishing Steelhead or Spring Chinook,but if you’re after Summer or Fall Chinook (that might be much larger)don’t be shy about moving up to a leader heavier than your main line.
As with all diving plugs,your Kwikfish may require tuning to achieve the best possible action;this can be checked by pulling your lure through the water.It should have a side-to-side wobbling motion.However,if it dives to the left,turn the line-attachment screw eye to the right (clockwise).If it dives to the right,turn it to the left (counterclockwise).A small pair of needle-nose pliers works best for this fine-tuning. Your lure can be thrown off balance if your sardine fillet is lopsided.If this occurs,try tuning your bait wrapper by flattening the lopsidedness with your thumb.Note:All standard Kwikfish are rigged with screw eyes,however,the new Luhr Jensen K13X and K16X are equipped with fixed eyelets.These new “X-treme” models should not require tuning.However,they can be tuned by bending (not turning)the line-attachment eyelet.
KWIKFISH SIZES FOR SALMON
The most popular salmon sizes in the standard model Kwikfish are the K14,K15 and K16.In recent years,Luhr Jensen has added the new Kwikfish “X-treme”models (13X and 16X),which are also available in lighted versions.These models have more extreme action,do not require tuning,and will dive deeper than the standard models.The blinking LED lighted models,equipped with a water-activated blinking light,will outperform unlit models during low light,darkness,or turbid water.
After more than a year of in-the-water testing to prove their effectiveness,Luhr Jensen introduced a series of “Hot Tail”fin-ishes. “Hot Tail”finishes have the accent color painted on the tail or hook end of the lure rather than the head (e.g.Silver/Chartreuse Head).Fish will almost always zero-in on the colored end of the lure that,with “Hot Tail”finishes,is where the hook is located.It’s proved so effective that many anglers remove the belly hook from Kwikfish having “Hot Tail”paint jobs,which makes it easier to release fish and add your bait wrapper.
Besides trolling,plunking Kwikfish is growing in popularity. Your outfit can be rigged like the diagram below,except that the dropper line for your weight should be longer,usually 18 to 30 inches.Plunking can be particularly effective for fall Chinook in the upper ends of bays or tidal areas when there is sufficient current to work stationary lures.Try plunking for spring or summer Chinook as they migrate upstream,especially where bottom structure will funnel fish into a narrow traveling zone.When water conditions are clear,try dropping down to a K10,K12 or K13X size Kwikfish,and although these small sizes won't carry a sardine fillet,they can be scented with a strong fish attractant like Berkley Power Jelly ®.
Kwikfish are available in 13 models ranging in length from 1-1/ 4 to 5-1/2 inches.In addition to the many Kwikfish finishes (most available with or without rattle)that Luhr Jensen stocks,dealers can order custom finishes,which require a minimum order of 72 each of the same size and color.You can identify custom finishes by the finish code located on the back of the product package.If the last set of 4 numbers in the complete 11 digit product code begin with a “5”it is a custom finish,which is not stocked by Luhr Jensen and may only be available for a short time.