Tying Spawn Sacks (with directions) by Scott Amerman and Phil Pirone

Tying Spawn Sacks (with directions) by Scott Amerman and Phil Pirone

One would not think competitors could be friends, but that is what we are.

Both Scott Amerman and I have great respect for each other’s talents.  We find we have common goals and, at times, common enemies. Our recent alliance was formed by the current controversy regarding the use of sodium sulfite in egg cures and the possible mortality of smolts and pre smolts caused by ingesting  sulfite cured eggs.

As we were discussing the situation, Scott mentioned that he tied a lot of spawn sacks for his Chinook fishing, and if more anglers did it, it would completely eliminate the possibility of smolts ingesting sulfite cured eggs. 

spawn sacks eggs tuna baits


In the past I have tied quite a few spawn sacks for steelhead, but not many for salmon. But the more I spoke with Scott, and the more I recalled how I fished eggs for salmon, the more sense it made to explore tying salmon sized spawn sacks.

Besides eliminating any chance smolts can ingest loose eggs falling off a cluster, or being pecked off a cluster, tying spawn sacks offers many other advantages.  First, all your baits are tied up ahead of time, so if you do have to change a bait, it takes seconds instead of minutes. 

Think about it!

How much fishing time do you waste opening up your cooler to get your egg container,  taking off the lid, finding your scissors and cutting off the right size chunk of skein eggs.

Now if you’re making the proverbial banana split for salmon, you then add a half or whole sand shrimp and possibly a slice of sardine, or a pinch of oil packed tuna, or a freshly peeled crawfish tail, or a tuna belly.

The bottom line is the more ingredients you are adding to your egg loop, the more time consuming it is.

Factor in freezing rain, roaring winds, and numb fingers, and you can easily imagine how only the most experienced of anglers are going to cinch this whole mess up with their egg loop into a perfect bait.  These same baits can be pre-tied in the comfort of your home or garage the night before and kept refrigerated.

It will take no more than tying 4 or 5 practice spawn sacks before you have it down pat. So let’s quickly review the advantages here in fishing spawn sacks. 

First, and most importantly, smolts have virtually no chance of eating sulfite cured eggs.

Secondly, by pre-tying your baits, you’ll spend  more time fishing and less time baiting hooks.

Third, you’ll be amazed how much longer your baits will fish in a spawn sack versus a cluster in an egg loop, and you won’t have to worry about having your egg loop fall apart after one or two drifts.  Also if you fish tidewater, you eliminate the ‘pogies’ and trash fish that often peck your hook bare in only one or two drifts. 

Tying Spawn Sacks

Note: Although larger, "salmon-sized" spawn sack tactics are shown below, you can tie these much smaller for steelhead and trout with the same techniques.

spawn sack tying supplies

Basic spawn sack tying supplies

scott amerman sheet

Scott Amerman displaying a largesheet of spawn sack material easily purchased at most fabric stores.

cut skeins fishing roe salmon eggs

Cut clusters from Skeins for sacks. Vary size according to river conditions.

salmon eggs fishing roe

With spawn sacks there is no wasted eggs as loose eggs and left over chunks can be tied into sacks.

stretch spawn netting

To tie a sack Scott stretches his spawn sack material over an empty plastic container and then...

egg skein fishing tying

He places his cluster in center of material over the container.

float spawn sack eggs fish pills mad river

Then he adds a few Floatie Beads for color and floatation.

shrimp tuna anchovy pro cure fishing scent salmon steelhead 

Now add a squirt of your favorite scent.

This is also a great time to add a half a sand shrimp, or a prawn, crawfish tail, clam, slice of sardine or a big pinch of oil packed tuna.   By using a spawn sack you can easily build a club sandwich that salmon just can’t say no to. And it’s a whole lot easier to put all of this into a perfect sack at home working off of a counter rather than trying to get it all to stay in an egg loop under adverse river conditions.  You can have all of your baits rigged in advance. When one is fished out just tear it off and immediately reload another perfect bait. With your baits all prettied you’ll have virtually no down time re rigging multiple bait combinations. Always remember to treat spent spawn sacks as litter and pack them off the river. We want to make sure that smolts have zero chance to ingest our cured eggs.
egg roe spawn salmon eggs

Pull material up into a tight ball and either tie it off with Magic thread, or stretchy thread.

egg spawn sack tying fishing

Once in a tight ball Scott ties off a sack with Magic (stretchy) thread.

spawn sack tying eggs

Then Scott snips off the extra netting material and you are ready to fish. Scott prepares several dozen baits prior to a day’s fishing.

spawn sack netting eggs salmon steelhead

To rig a spawn sack simply run your hook through the bag and then capture the whole works in your egg loop.

spawn sacks fishing 

A deadly combination of a scent loaded spawn sack and a large Spin n Glow. This is one of Scott’s favorite rigs for both spring and fall salmon.

 Author’s Note: On my first trip to the local fabric store I was looking for bridal veil material and found a fantastic selection of not only great colors of netting but netting available in bright metallic mylar weaves as well. Besides the canned tuna trick I’ve also heard that Chinook are fond of clams. Baby clams are also available canned.  But whether you stick to traditional baits of the newer fad combinations, the bottom line is “Spawn Sacks Work”, and they just might save a few smolt’s lives to boot!  Now how bad can that be?


Note on Salmon Spawn Sacks:

Many of us like to fish really ‘wet’ eggs in tidewater.

The wetter and juicier the better. Take those same wet beauties and fish them in current in an egg loop, and you are usually reeling in a bare hook after a drift or two.

Therefore many of us cure wet eggs for tide water and a dryer, tougher egg for fishing heavier currents.  By tying spawn sacks you can fish the wetter eggs in any conditions. 

For salmon: average spawn sack size ranges from quarter size to golf ball size or larger. The only size limitation is the size of the material you tie your sacks from. 

When your spawn sack is spent, just rip it off the hook and replace it in seconds with your pre-tied bait.  Just remember to treat a spent spawn sack as trash, and pack it out with you if you bank fish, or put it in your boat’s trash container. Again, we want to eliminate any chance smolts can ever eat our cured eggs.

There is no doubt that Scott’s original suggestion to tie spawn sacks is a win – win idea, and with magic thread it’s now so easy to do.

- written by Phil Pirone of Pro Cure Bait Scents


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Years ago, a buddy and I were camped out on a Northern Michigan river – I’d just landed a bright hen steelhead on the fly. I had a roll of spawn bag mesh but nothing to tie it with (our leader material was too stiff). We ended up pinching the open end with hemostats, twisting it shut tightly and then melting the mesh with a lighter. A quick press with the lighter end helped fuse the melting mesh as it cooled.


Using zip ties to secure your egg sacks is just another form of water pollution that
our streams, rivers and oceans do not need. Please tie your egg sacks with an biodegradable environmental friendly tie.

J B Johnston

Nice tip thanks

Thomas Lambertz

Nice tip thanks

Thomas Lambertz

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