Spooning for trout – a timeless tactic in Pennsylvania and elsewhere
When it comes to spoon fishing lures, it’s difficult to imagine any more recognizable pattern than the classic red and white Dardevle by Eppinger. Founded in Michigan in 1906, the family-owned company and its small core of longtime employees have been stamping, plating, painting, and processing the American made lures for more than 100 years.
In fact, the Dardevle was so popular, simple to use, and effective that the spoon was included in Air Force issued survival kits during World War II. Today, the Dardevle company offers approximately 65 different styles of lures in 150 color varieties, and the lures are still fish catching machines.
“The reason the company has prevailed is because the lures work,” Marketing Director, John Cleveland said of the company’s longevity. “We make it right every time and we really care about what we do.”
Cleveland has had opportunities to fish all over the Upper Midwest, Canada, and Alaska, experiencing tremendous success with pike, lakers, salmon, panfish, and bass using spoons. However, he recognizes the huge popularity of trout fishing in Pennsylvania and said that spoons can be extremely effective in both streams and lakes for rainbows, browns and brook trout.
When targeting trout, he recommends using an ultra-lite spinning rod, rigged with 4- or 6-pound test fishing line. On streams, he advises a 1/8-ounce Lil’ Devle or 3/16-ounce Midget, and says anglers should simply cast it out, let it flutter down to the bottom and retrieve at a slow to moderate speed, being sure to momentarily stop, let it flutter down again and resume the retrieve.
“Slower is better, so the fish have more time to track and react to the natural pattern of the spoon in the water,” Cleveland said. “If fishing in clear water, use a nickel backed lure, but in turbid or tannic water use a brass or copper back.”
For trolling in open water, cast a slightly heavier lure about 50-feet behind your boat, and run your motor between 1.5-to-2 miles per hour, occasionally pumping the rod in and out to alternate between more tension and a slack fluttering motion that often triggers a strike.
Red and white is the most popular pattern the company sells, but Cleveland’s favorite is the Five of Diamonds. He also said pure black is his go-to sleeper color when nothing else is producing bites.
“Sometimes it’s color, sometimes it’s size, and sometimes it’s your retrieve. But if action is slow, try changing your retrieve — go slow, speed up, let it flutter, and rip it. Then change the color and change the size,” Cleveland said. “Often times, you’ll suddenly find what they like, and the bite really turns on.”