Meat Rigs: A Guide to Trolling for Salmon

What is a salmon meat rig and why is it effective?

A salmon meat rig is a setup used for trolling that combines a plastic head with a trailing hook, baited with a herring strip. This technique is commonly employed for chinook and coho salmon in the great lakes, usually trolled behind a flasher and a downrigger. The beauty of using a meat rig lies in its ability to blend the advantages of an artificial lure with natural bait. The herring strip releases enticing scents into the water, effectively triggering salmon bites.

Components needed for a meat rig setup

To set up a meat rig for trolling, you will need the following tackle components:

  • Bait head
  • Herring filets in brine
  • 20 to 30 lb test fluorocarbon leader line
  • 2 size 2 straight shank hooks (single or treble)

There are two main ways to tie a meat rig. The most popular method involves using pre-rigged bait heads with one or two trailing treble hooks. Alternatively, you can opt for the traditional tandem hook array, allowing you to hook a whole baitfish or cut plug herring at both ends.

How to set up a meat rig

Method 1: Using plastic bait heads

If you’re using plastic bait heads, like the diabolical meat rig, follow these steps:

  1. Cut your herring strips down to size to fit inside the slot at the front of the bait head.
  2. Slide the herring strip into the bait head and secure it by poking a toothpick through the hole in the head. Trim off the protruding ends.
  3. You can choose to leave the treble hook dangling free or poke it through the herring strip for additional stability.
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Method 2: Tandem hook rig

For a tandem hook rig, follow these steps:

  1. Set up a 2 hook snell knot, ensuring the spacing between the hooks corresponds to the head and tail region of your bait.
  2. Alternatively, use an adjustable 2 hook knot that allows you to move the hooks as needed for the bait’s size.
  3. Tie the other end of your leader to a swivel or snap swivel, which can be attached to your main line or flasher rig for trolling.

Regardless of the meat rig version you choose, ensure that your whole herring or plug cut herring spins in a tight spiral while being pulled through the water. Wide spirals are less appealing to salmon and result in fewer bites.

Trolling a meat rig for salmon

Meat rigs are most effective when used as part of a salmon fishing tackle setup for trolling in the great lakes. King salmon, also known as chinook, are often found in deep waters in this region. To optimize your chances of success, it’s recommended to use a downrigger to troll your rig at the right depth.

Combining with a flasher

To increase your chances further, combine your meat rig with a flasher setup. Since covering a lot of water is necessary to find salmon in the vast great lakes, the spinning and whipping action of a flasher helps attract salmon from a wide radius around your boat.

Meat Rig for Salmon

Source: Hook’d Up Bar and Grill

Meat Rigs: A Guide to Trolling for Salmon