Thursday, January 3, 2013


Heavy metal music blaring on my MP3 player and heavy metal in my tackle box can only mean one thing. River fishing under high water conditions. The heavy metal will keep you rocking even when the river is raging.
My music of choice is something very loud and fast. The two key words here are loud and fast. Vibration to a fish is loud and a flashy lure retrieved at a good clip sure fits the Led Zeppelin test. Since fish do not hear, you must use a lure that generates as much vibration as the speakers at an old school rock concert.
The rivers are almost guaranteed to be running high this spring so you need to get to the bottom. My top lures of choice are spinners, spoons and plugs, and if fished properly (near the bottom) they will all be banging the rocks.
Snap swivels are required with spoons and spinners. I use a 6mm ball bearing Snap Swivel in black; this is not an area that you want to buy the least expensive ones. If you do go without or buy a lesser swivel, your line will become a twisted mess.
When I fish spinners I always seem to catch the smaller rainbows and not may browns. If you are going to rainbow trout waters, I would recommend starting with a black body with a silver bladed spinner. I use nothing but silver and gold blades with either a white or black body where ever I go. Both colors do work very well, but it’s not very often that both work at the same time, so you will need to play around with the color a bit. If the river is moving quickly you may never get the lure deep enough to be effective. So if you find yourself standing at the edge of a stream or river and this happens to you, place split shot to the line, one at a time, 12 inches above the snap swivel. If one split shot does not do it, keep adding until you hit the rocks. At that point, take the smallest weight off. This will ensure that your lure will be where you need it to be. Adding weight is a much better approach than going to a larger lure. Early in the season you must fish with small fish patterns or very large ones. The fry are still very small and last year’s smolts are much larger. Fly fisherman have known to match the hatch for years; spin-casters must do the same. If I don’t get a hit using spinners, I will then work a spoon.

My spoon of choice is a gold or silver ½ oz Castmaster suspended under a bobber. I try to cast into the faster water (riffle) trying to find the area’s deeper indentations in the gravel. As I watch by bobber drift, if it is hitting the bottom I shorten the line between my lure and the bobber. If I’m not hitting the rocks, I lengthen the line. You want your spoon to drift down stream just above the bottom. With this technique, I try to have my bobber move downstream in the fast water, but next to an eddy or slower water. Fish will sit in the slower water with great ease and the river will deliver its food. This technique is to be administered in a methodical fashion; cover the entire riffle before moving. By now if I have not tempted any fish, I cut off the snap swivel and proceed to cover as much river as possible with a plug. I always use a count down or sinking model.

There are many brand name plug companies out there for one to choose. I prefer Rapala. And specifically a CD-3 or a CD-5 in gold or silver. As the season wears on, I will move toward a CD-9. They provide very good water vibration along with the right color. When fishing a plug in fast water, one must target the slower water. Make your cast to the head of the slow water and make the lure swim in short bursts. Smaller fish can not and do not swim long distances nor do they swim cross current. Fishing your plug in a small burst and stop motion will simulate a small injured fish, as the bursts are deliberate and quick. When the lure is being ripped trough the water it emits a tremendous amount of vibration, thus getting the fish’s attention and maybe a reaction strike.
As you plan your opener, remember silver and gold, work the lure to create vibration, and never work your lure across the current.
If your lure is not head banging the rocks you need more heavy metal…and rock on.


  1. I was learning how to "heavy metal" fish when I was 5 yrs. old from my 'master fisherman' dad. He had already taught me lake fishing by that age, so we we were now tackling stream fishing. After excellent instruction, he implored me not to allow my line to drift too far downstream, because if I caught a nice fish down there it might get beat to shreds trying to reel it in. Well, as he scurried to help my brother many yards upstream, I did EXACTLY what he warned me not to and guess what? I caught a gorgeous fish MANY MANY pools downstream! I was afraid to tell him, so I reeled in this poor fish and almost snapped my pole while continually getting my line (and fish) stuck on rocks, logs, etc. By the time I finally got the fish into the pool in front of me, it once again got stuck due to all the twigs & moss collected during the VERY LONG trip. I finally yanked with all my 5-yr-old power, and the fish-on-hook flew out of the water and into the air, wrapped itself around a high tree branch above my head, and barely wiggled its beat-up body while dangling airborn. I couldn't believe my eyes so I bellowed out a yell for my dad's help. When he ran my way with frantic concern, he saw my fishy and said, "I know exactly what you did here" as he held back deep laughter. He could see I was already full of true regret and empathy for my fish, so he didn't scold me. The fish had to be released immediately in hopes of it surviving its awful journey; my dad said it still had enough life in it to live and we didn't want to eat this poor trout after all it had already endured. That was the day I caught a fish in a tree and one of my FAVE memories with my lovely and talented fisherman father! Heavy metal fishing ROCKS!!!

    Thanks for reading,

    Debbie Hillyard

    1. P.S. Scott...I wish I could share a modern "heavy metal" fishing experience with you. Barely over a handful of years after my 'fish in a tree' experience, my 32-yr-old father was wearing a heavy metal law enforcement badge and lost his life doing so. He was right in the middle of teaching his 4 children how to fish the wild waters of western U.S. (mostly California & Utah) when he left us to solo fish. He and I caught the largest, most beautiful trout in Zion & Bryce National Parks only months before he set off for higher and wilder experiences; he pan fried some of our rainbow trout within 30 minutes of catch right on the bank of the river. I was almost 12 then and I still remember his "heavy metal" lures shimmering in the sunlight under water...that was nearly 40 yrs ago so I'm guessing your "heavy metal" gear is WAY more advanced and modernized and I thank you for writing about it with such excited energy and articulate flare (-:

      Debbie Hillyard

  2. I can't remember the last time I used a snap swivels, I prefer loop knots. I do use swivels though, on bottom rigs, on wire leader bait rigs, and occasionally when casting spoons or Gotchas for macks and bonito. I keep meaning to buy some snaps for attaching Sabiki rigs but I always forget. Come to think of it, the Sabikis I use for bait and silver trout have a snap swivel on the bottom end for clipping on the sinker (I prefer to use a Gotcha instead of a sinker) so I guess I do use them


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