Without a doubt salmon flashers are an absolute must when deep water trolling for salmon using most of the popular lures and setups.
They are an absolute staple on almost every salmon charter boat that I have seen and are responsible for a very large percentage of salmon caught on the troll.
A lot of lures and hoocies/squid have very little to no swim or diving action. A flasher not only helps to attract salmon in towards your troll but also helps to add a bit of life to what it is trailing behind it.
What is a Salmon Flasher?
A salmon flasher is a long shaped piece of plastic that is trolled in front of a lure or bait and creates vibration and flash to help attract salmon.
It is theorized that the flash and vibration mimics another salmon attacking a small herring ball. Other salmon are then said to home in on this feeding and strike your trailing lure as if it is a lone bait fish or squid.
Because they have very little weight and have no diving action themselves they are usually used with the aid of a downrigger or a diver to help get you rig down to the required depth when trolling for salmon.
The best way to learn how to use fishing flasher is just to get out there and use one. Don't be afraid to experiment with different lures or bait.
You can also play around with the leader lengths and the size and colors of the flasher that you are using.
The majority of salmon rigs for trolling will incorporate a flasher or a dodger of some kind.
How to Rig a Flasher for Trolling
There are many different ways to run a fishing flasher but the most simplest method which is also the most common is to run one off the back of a downrigger out anywhere from 30 to 50 feet.
Your main line is connected to the flasher and on the other side between 2 and 5 feet of 20 lb flourocarbon leader which is then connected to your lure.
Always run flasher with stainless steel ball bearing swivels and not weaker lower quality inline swivels. You will want at least one swivel on either side of the flasher so that if one gets fouled up with weed or stops working you still have one working flasher in your rig.
Primarily for trolling on larger waters they are growing in popularity for use with salmon river lures.
Flasher Trolling Speeds
Traditionally flashers were trolled at a speed of between 2 and 2.5 miles per hour. This sweet spot gives the flasher the best swim action and allows the tail to kick in such a way that it gives off a solid vibration through the water.
Modern trolling flashers have added agitator fins added to the back. This fin means you can troll at speeds as low as one mile per hour yet still retain plenty of tail kick action.
Best Flasher Colors
The usual go to color flashers for salmon are green, red and then either a silver from a metal flasher or a holographic pattern.
As you get deeper and deeper into the water column color really does tend to become less of an issue as less light penetrates down. A strong flash and lots of vibration is really what counts the most.
At shallower depths color can be a factor where the green or red will mimic different types of natural bait balls that salmon will target aggressively.
As a general rule you can match the flasher color to the prevailing water color at the time. Water color can take on hues of green and blue depending on the time of year and light situation.
Some flasher manufacturers such as Pro Troll have not only added UV glow in the dark colors to their flashers but have also added components that emit electrical pulses similar to that of the electrical nerve discharges that live bait give off. This technology is called EChip.
A lot of anglers will not have heard the term dummy flasher, a dummer flasher is when you rig a flasher to your downrigger ball.
The reason to do this is when you are fishing with salmon lures that don't perform well behind a flasher.
You still get the benefits of the flash and vibration from the flasher but without having to use one on your main line.
When playing a fish you also have a lot more feel as the fishing flasher will create drag in the water as you play the fish especially smaller salmon.
Modern fishing flashers are predominantly made from plastic and they will mostly have some form of stick on tape that is used to give them their flash. Through wear and tear this tape can get damaged easily especially if they are stored on top of each other.
One solution is to use a dedicated flasher storage bag. This a role up bag that has separate vented compartments for each flasher.
A flasher bag is one of the best ways to ensure that your flashers do not end up scratching each other.
Flashers vs Dodgers what's the Difference?
A flasher is specifically designed to spin as it moves through the water whereas a dodger will dart back and forth from side to side without much spinning.
A lot of anglers will use the terms dodger or flasher interchangeably and in reality the two are very different.
Flashers are more about vibration and flash, a dodger however will also flash and give off a vibration but it is also used to impart an action into the trailing lure as it darts from side to side.
Flashers will generally create less of a sideways actions whereas a dodger will create a lot.
Certain lures do not perform well behind a dodger as the action of the dodger will spoil or ruin the correct swim action of the lure.
Small crankbaits and long slender plugs like Rapala's are generally best used without either.