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Finessing the Spin-Glo by Larry Ellis

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When the Worden Floating Lure Company, now owned by Yakima Bait Company, invented the Spin-N-Glo, little did they know that the lure would become one of the company’s bestselling, let alone top-producing lure.

chetco steelhead fishing big trout

I was on the Chetco the day this man hooked and landed a 20-plus pound hatchery steelhead on a Flame Chartreuse-colored Spin-N-Glo.

I always have said that if a person had never heard of a Spin-N-Glo, they need to go out and get an education all over again.

The winged bobber has steelhead magic written all over it as defined by its name.

It had gone through several name changes before the final moniker was chosen.

“The man who actually named this lure the “Spin-N-Glo” was a guy named Leo Ryan,” said Howard Worden in one of his many stories that he told me. Howard marketed and developed the Spin-N-Glo after his father invented it. “We were all trying to give the lure a different name, and Leo just said, ‘Well, it spins and it glows.’ So after that we decided to name the lure the Spin-N-Glo.”

It makes perfect sense, really. A perfect-sense name for a perfectly-spinning steelhead spinner—that just happens to float!

“A Spin-N-Glo really is a buoyant spinner,” says Buzz Ramsey, (former) brand manager of the Yakima Bait Co. “It allows guys, especially plunkers, who are ‘still fishing’ to cast out, and that Spin-N-Glo floats up right off the bottom where the fish are migrating upstream.”

buzz ramsey fishing february steelhead wilson river

Buzz Ramsey holds a nice steelhead caught on the Oregon Coast on a Flame Chartreuse color Spin-N-Glo with white wings, by far the most-popular color Spin-N-Glo/wing combination.….photo by Buzz Ramsey

That advice is mainly for plunkers, but because of its buoyancy, it also allows anglers to drift-fish in areas where the normal weighted spinner would get hung up, which makes it the perfect spinner for all occasions.

There have also been plenty of knock-offs of the Spin-N-Glo, but they have never lasted very long on the market because Yakima Bait Company has a special patent that disallows the use of anything that comes even close to the looks of a Spin-N-Glo.

“We have a ‘design patent’ on the Spin-N-Glo,” notes Ramsey. “Most patents are for a lifetime, but a ‘design patent’ is forever. And we enforce it! There was a time when the company wasn’t as aggressive about it and that’s how a few players got into the game, so we’ve been cracking down on them lately.”

WHAT COLOR AND SIZE SHOULD I USE?

Walking into a tackle store well-stocked with Spin-N-Glos is like Christmas every day of the year. With at least 173 available finishes in 10 different sizes, you’re like a kid in a candy store.

And you can special order even more Spin-N-Glo color combinations with different-colored wings. Just think of the possibilities!

Most of the SNGs come with white vinyl wings, but some bodies offer black, chartreuse, pink and glow-in-the-dark wings as well. Obviously you could go broke buying only one of each size, color and wing combination.

Thankfully, there are a few stalwart color and winged combinations that catch most of the steelhead in Pacific Northwest rivers and streams.

“I’ll tell you what I see out there predominantly on the north coast,” says Ramsey.

“That Flame Chartreuse (FLCH) with a white wing, a Mylar wing and a chartreuse wing is what I see most of the time. If I’m fishing for winter steelhead from the bank, anglers’ tackle boxes will be full of those three color combinations. That one color with those three different wings will be all they’ll have in their tackle boxes. In fact that chartreuse wing is a really big deal.”

 

5 FAVORITE WILL-CATCH COLORS

These are the author’s favorite must-have Spin-N-Glos that he takes on every trip to any Oregon coastal stream.<span class="Apple-converted-space">  </span>Always carry these colors in your tackle box to minimize skunkage on all Oregon coastal streams.

  1. Flame Chartreuse with white wings
  2. Sherbet with black wings
  3. Egg Fluorescent with white wings
  4. Pink with white wings
  5. Pearl Pink with white wings

These are the author’s favorite must-have Spin-N-Glos that he takes on every trip to any Oregon coastal stream.  Always carry these colors in your tackle box to minimize skunkage on all Oregon coastal streams.

 

We are mainly talking about drift-fishing, although that particular color scheme doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re plunking or drift-fishing—a steelhead is a steelhead!

On south coast steelhead streams, I make darned sure that my plunking box is full of Flame Chartreuse bodies with white wings. In fact when I fish the Chetco, I’ll make sure that my flip box is crammed to the hilt with the aforementioned color combinations.

Mylar wings will work, but on too many occasions I’ve seen anglers not hook up at all using Mylar wings. But use a Spin-N-Glo with white wings and watch your rod tip meet the water time after time. But of course Mylar wings do have their special place.

I have not used chartreuse wings as of yet, but you better believe that they will be used this coming January and February. It seems like a lethal concoction for steelhead to me.

Here’s the general rule of thumb when it comes to using different colored wings.

“When the sun is out, that’s when the Mylar wings seem to fish a little better,” notes Ramsey. “When the water’s got some color to it, it seems like the white wings are best. And in clear water, I like the black wings. And now we have a wing that glows. It works really well when the water’s turbid and it’s charged up (flashed).”

On too many occasions, I have caught steelhead when flashing a bright light on a spinner with glow-in-the-dark tape on the blade, especially at the crack of dawn. Now Yakima Bait has those bases covered with their new glow-in-the-dark wings.

But as everyone knows, there are always exceptions to every rule, and anglers seem to have their own preference when it comes to hot body colors and wing combinations.

But by far, my most favored Spin-N-Glo has been the Flame Chartreuse body with white wings, which on the south coast has been deemed, “The Chetco Special.”

And every river has its own color du jour, with the aforementioned color combination being a favorite on numerous Oregon coast rivers.

When I made a call up to Arlene’s Café in Elkton on the Umpqua River, guide Darrell Moore said that most of the plunkers were hooking their steelhead on the Umpqua Special, which is of course—you guessed it—a Flame Chartreuse body with white wings.

In the Yakima Bait Catalogue, Flame Chartreuse with white wings is also called “Stop-and-Go”, a phrase that was supposedly coined on the Chetco River.

But there is also another hot color Spin-N-Glo that has garnered a lot of strikes on north coast and south coast streams as well.

“Regular Pink is really good as is Pink Fluorescent,” notes Ramsey.

Pink, Pearl Pink, Glitter Pink and Pink Fluorescent, all with white wings are all apples that fell from the same tree. They all work exceptionally well on a clearing river or in gin-clear water situations. Now Yakima Bait offers some pink-colored Spin-N-Glos with pink wings. They are lures just waiting for a steelhead to happen.

spin glo yakima spinglo fishing bait

From left to right: Flame Chartreuse with white wings; Flame Chartreuse with Mylar wings; Flame Chartreuse with green wings; Flame Chartreuse with black wings; Pearl Pink with pink wings.

DRIFT-FISHING SPIN-N-GLOS

Now here’s a tip that will save you some money and allow you to stock your box with more Spin-N-Glos. You will be glad to have an ample supply of winged bobbers when the bite’s hot and heavy and your tackle is breaking off.

“I’ve had a number of guys walk up to me at the sport shows and they say, ‘the smaller the Spin-N-Glo I use, the more fish I catch’”, notes Ramsey.

Small meaning a size 12 or 14.

elaine fishing steelhead

Elaine Witters from Okanogan, Washington admires the steelhead she just fought and caught on a Spin-N-Glo on the Chetco River.

This brings back a special steelhead memory.

One day I was drift-fishing a number 12 Pearl Pink Spin-N-Glo with white wings from the bank and I was using it with a standard pencil lead setup.

At the lower end of Loeb State Park on the Chetco was a big boulder that had steelhead written all over it. Drift-boat after drift-boat made passes by that boulder back-bouncing roe and pulling plugs to no avail.

So after everyone cleared out, I made a cast just upriver from the boulder so that the winged bobber could drift by a potential steelhead holding area on the slacker side of the rock.

As the small SNG drifted next to and around the boulder, it was suddenly stopped cold in its tracks. I thought that I might have been snagged, so I gave my rod a good solid jerk.

Out of the water flew the biggest steelhead I had ever hooked in my life. It was too big to actually make those high, shaking leaps we’re so prone to seeing. The fish could only porpoise out of the water.

I could see that the hook was deeply buried inside the fish’s mouth, proof that steelhead just gobble down Spin-N-Glos. I envisioned having this fish mounted above the mantle, but getting it to the bank would be another fishing fantasy.

I fought the fish as it porpoised out of the water a half dozen or so times before it finally took off down the river into the whitewater. There was nothing I could do to stop it. My 8-pound leader might as well have been a piece of thread.

Eventually it spooled me and broke me off, but the movie of that large steelhead with that Pearl Pink Spin-N-Glo in its mouth still replays in my head 35 years later like an “I love Lucy” rerun.

An angler eagerly waits for his rod to go bend double as he plunks a Spin-N-Glo on the Siletz River.

An angler eagerly waits for his rod to go bend double as he plunks a Spin-N-Glo on the Siletz River.

USE LONG LEADERS

Make sure that your drift-fishing leaders are at least 30 inches long.

“Because Spin-N-Glos spin, they can tangle up your leaders,” tips Ramsey. “So you would think that a short leader would be less prone to tangling, but that is not true. Over the years I’ve come to realize that if you’re drift-fishing, a longer leader tangles a lot less than a short leader, So a longer leader might mean anywhere from 30- to 36-inches long.”

Remember that it is important to use a bead between your hook and your Spin-N-Glo to act as a bearing. The smaller the Spin-N-Glo is, the smaller your bead will be.

Generally speaking, a 5mm bead is the standard size bead to use with your winged bobbers. But on the larger size Spin-N-Glos I’ll sometimes use a 6mm bead.

 Make sure to keep your rod tip up when you’re fighting a steelhead while plunking a heavy Spin-N-Glo rig

Make sure to keep your rod tip up when you’re fighting a steelhead while plunking a heavy Spin-N-Glo rig

You really have to look at the hole in the back of the Spin-N-Glo and make sure that it isn’t larger than the bead. If you are lucky enough to use the same SNG day in and day out, the hole in the back of the lure might enlarge, so this would be a case where using a larger bead would be appropriate.

So carry 4, 5 and 6mm beads to cover all sizes of the winged bobbers. Use the smaller size beads for the size 12 and 14 Spin-N-Glos.

A size 1/0 Gamakatsu or Owner hook should be plenty big enough to keep the hook point in the strike zone on a size 4 Spin-N-Glo when you are plunking.

But downsize your hook to a size 6 Gamakatsu octopus-style hook if you are drift-fishing a size 12 or 14 winged bobber.

So if you’re a drift-fisherman, there is no excuse why you can’t keep your tackle box well supplied with an ample supply of winged bobbers.

Flame Chartreuse popular Spin-N-Glo colors on Oregon coastal streams. This winged bobber Mylar wings.

Flame Chartreuse is one of the most-popular Spin-N-Glo colors on Oregon coastal streams. The SNG is still hanging out of the fish’s mouth.  This winged bobber happened to have Mylar wings.

BEST COLORS AND SIZES FOR PLUNKING

“For steelhead, a size 4 is really the size for plunking,” notes Ramsey.

So if you had your druthers, you could conceivably get by plunking only a size 4. But a size 6 also works well as the water drops and clears. In fact, I’ve taken out all my size 2 Spin-N-Glos out of my steelhead plunking box to make room for more size 4 and 6 Spin-N-Glos.

Just think about how many more SNG colors and wing combinations you can fit into your flip box if you downsize to two sizes. The smaller size SNGs also costs a lot less than the larger sizes.

ROE NOT NECESSARY

I asked Buzz if he ever used Spin-N-Glos without roe.

“All the time,” he replied. “I’m always amazed at how many people always have roe on their rigs. There are times when steelhead have a real nose for bait, but there’s a lot more times when they’d rather take the Spin-N-Glo without it.”

I also remember Howard Worden telling me that he never used roe for either salmon or steelhead.

“On the Columbia in the spring of the year just below Yakima near the dam, we would go down and drift-fish Spin-N-Glos from the bank and catch spring Chinook—and I caught lots of ‘em,” Worden recalled. “We would use the number 6 and 4 Spin-N-Glos before I started making the size 2. And I didn’t use any bait at all,” he emphasized. “In fact I never used eggs at all to fish for either steelhead or salmon!”

Here’s the reason why roe can be a detriment when fishing for steelhead using Spin-N-Glos.

The idea of having a floating spinner is that it will have plenty of buoyancy while either drift-fishing or plunking.

The moment when you stick any amount of roe on a Spin-N-Glo, it will sink the winged bobber to a certain degree. So if the SNG is struggling to remain 12 inches above the bottom (the steelhead zone), putting only a small cluster of roe in the egg loop will cause the SNG to sink lower toward the bottom. It might now be 2 inches above the bottom instead of the desired 12 inches.

Now think about this. If you put a gob of roe on the end of the SNG, it will either be on the bottom or an inch away from the bottom. You might as well wait for a mud shark to come by and grab it.

Because of the way a steelhead is built, its eyes also naturally look upward. So you will want your winged bobber to remain in that 12-inch strike zone where they are always naturally looking.

I have seen more fishermen get bit on the Chetco and Rogue Rivers by not using roe at all.

hatchery steelhead chetco fish

REMEMBER THAT HOOKS HAVE WEIGHT

Furthermore, a lot of people like to use treble hooks with their Spin-N-Glos as well. I’m not saying that the use of treble hooks are not effective, but again, you’re still defeating the purpose of having a buoyant spinner. The weight factor of having two additional hook points is playing against you.

So use a single octopus-style hook on your Spin-N-Glos.

Also make sure that you use the correct hook size for the Spin-N-Glo size. Use a Gamakatsu or Owner octopus style 1/0 hook for size 4 Spin-N-Glos, a size 1 octopus hook for the smaller size 6 Spin-N-Glos and a size 6 octopus hook for the very small size 12 and 14 SNGs.

Beads are also weighty as well, so use the smallest bead that is necessary to keep your Spin-N-Glo rotating. If you want to use smaller hooks and move the hook point further back from the SNG, then use two beads.

WHERE TO CAST – VERY IMPORTANT STUFF!

If you are drift-fishing, rig up using a piece of lead or a slinky for your sinker, the same as you would do if you were drift-fishing a ‘Lil Corky or a gob of roe-and-yarn.

If you’re drift fishing and the water is high, make sure to work all of the tail-outs, tips Nick Amato, editor of Salmon Trout Steelheader.

Depending on the river you are fishing, there might be multiple tail-outs in one section of the river. Don’t leave any tail-out unturned!

Current seams are the next most important places to cast, especially if the river parallels the current seam. They’re easy to spot. A current seam will have rough, ripply water on the river side of the river’s surface connecting to slack, calm water on the bank side of the river’s surface. The part where the two types of river adjoin is the current seam. Current seams can travel anywhere from 10 to 100 yards.

buzz ramsey steelhead fishing

Buzz Ramsey holds a nice steelhead caught on the Oregon Coast on a Flame Chartreuse color Spin-N-Glo with white wings, by far the most-popular color Spin-N-Glo/wing combination.….photo by Buzz Ramsey

The next best place to cast is along the upriver side and river sides of boulder water. Sometimes you will have to make long casts with heavier sinkers to bounce the bottom if you are fishing from the bank.

Whatever size sinker you choose to use, make sure that you are feeling the bottom with your sinker every 4 or 5 seconds. If you are feeling the bottom every 1 or 2 seconds, your sinker is too heavy. Either cut off a piece of lead or use a smaller slinky.

If you don’t feel the bottom after about 6 seconds or so, your sinker is too light, so in this case you will want to use a longer piece of lead or a larger slinky.

Whether you are drift-fishing boulder water, a current seam or a tail-out, make a fake hook set after your initial cast to take the bow and slack out of your line.

You want the current to pull your Spin-N-Glo alongside the boulder without any slack in the line. Much of the time, a fish will be hiding under the stealth and cover of the slack water just upriver from the boulder.

If you are plunking, you’re going to be fishing mainly along current seams, at the heads of riffles and on inside turns.

Make sure that you are using a rod holder that is sturdy enough to withstand the strength of the current and the ferocious strikes that will occur.

Rig up thusly. Thread your 15-pound monofilament mainline through a plastic Slido and then slide a 5mm bead up the line. Tie your mainline to a number 6 crane swivel.

Now make your leader. If you’re using a size 4 SNG, tie a 1/0 octopus-style hook to the end of a 30 inch or longer leader made of 12-pound monofilament using an egg loop knot.

Now slide down a 5mm bead onto the hook. Finally slide down the Spin-N-Glo of your choice onto the bearing bead and tie the end of your leader to the number 6 crane swivel.

Make sure to snap a pancake or pyramid sinker onto the snap at the bottom of the Slido. The sinkers will range from 6 to 10 ounces.

THE AUTHOR’S FAVORITE ALL-TIME SPIN-N-GLO SIZES AND COLORS

If I had to pick five must-have Spin-N-Glo colors that will work on any Pacific coast river, I would chose these size and color combinations. They are my confidence colors which have proven themselves to me year after year.

BEST SPIN-N-GLO SIZES AND HOOK SIZES

  • All plunking Spin-N-Glos must be size 4 using a 1/0 octopus hook.
  • All drift-fishing Spin-N-Glos must be size 12 or 14 using a size 6 octopus hook.

- written by Larry Ellis


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