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Understanding the Power of Flash

By Mark Romanack

Warm water species like this walleye are very attracted to flash in the water.
Captain Jake caught this nice eye trolling a Fish Flash attached direct to the
back of an Off Shore Tackle Tadpole Diver. By simply adding a six foot leader
this rig can be used to fish spinners, spoons and shallow diving crankbaits for
Flash is a powerful fish attractant. A host of lures depend heavily on
 flash to lure in fish including crankbaits, spoons, spinners and even attractor
style jigs get in on the act.
There is little doubt that lures and attractors that give off flash in the water help us catch more fish. Flash helps us catch fish because these pulsations of light closely emulate the natural flashes that occur when game fish slash into a school of bait fish. As the bait ball scatters to avoid whatever predator is on their tail, light is redirected and strobes or flashes of light explode into the water.

When game fish see these strobes of light it’s like the dinner bell is ringing! Because flash penetrates the water almost as well as sound, lots of   fish species depend heavily on this visual stimulant to find food. Bass, walleye, trout, salmon,  pike, musky and even panfish species like crappie are helplessly attracted to flash in the water.

Flash helps us catch fish, but too much of a good thing can be a problem. In clear water, flash travels a tremendous distance pulling fish in like moths to the flame. This is a good thing, but in very clear water the flashes of light can become overpowering.   

The lesson here is that flash works to attract fish, but sometimes we have to use this power in moderation. A number of steps can be taken to tone down the amount of flash an attractor puts out.

The obvious first step is to use smaller attractors in clear water and larger ones in stained to dirty water conditions. A good second option is to incorporate a longer distance between the flasher and the actual bait. 

Pictured here a Big Al Fish Flash is rigged about five feet in front of a 
Mag Lip crankbait. Flash can be used to attract not only trout and salmon,
 but warm water species like walleye, pike, musky and even crappie.
For example, the Fish Flash produced by Yakima Bait is a very popular spinning, flashing style attractor. This attractor is typically rigged three to four feet in front of a spinner, plug, spoon or cut bait rig when fishing in stained to off color water. When fishing in clearer water conditions simply extend the leader length to five, six or even seven feet to provide more separation between the flash and the actual bait.

Experimenting with the color of the flasher is another good option. It’s amazing how often I’ve noticed that one particular color or finish on a flasher or other attractor produces better in certain water and light conditions than others. The only way to figure out this delicate balance is to experiment regularly with flasher color until something that works emerges.

Fortunately, flasher style attractors come in almost every color and finish combination imaginable. 

Traditional flasher style attractors are normally rigged in-line a few feet in front of the bait or lure. Dodgers, rotating paddles and lake trolls are normally rigged this way.

Some of the newer attractors on the market can actually be rigged in some rather ingenious ways. The Fish Flash by Yakima can be rigged in-line like traditional attractors or they can be rigged directly to directional divers including the popular Dipsy, Disco Diver and Slide-Diver. Because these flashers spin on their own axis they create next to zero resistance in the water. Fish flash can be fished in combination with divers and not influence the diving depth of the device significantly.

A rare catch in the Great Lakes, this Atlantic Salmon fell to a Mag Lip 
crankbait fished behind a Yakima Fish Flash. In clear water flashers like the 
Fish Flash work best when rigged five to seven feet ahead of lures and baits.

Trolling weights like keel sinkers, banana weights, bead chain sinkers, Guppy Weights and Tadpole Divers are other options for rigging a flasher directly to a device designed to achieve target depths. Trolling weights are often used for walleye trolling, but most walleye anglers have not adapted to using flashers in their trolling set ups. When targeting walleye it’s not necessary to have a flasher on every trolling line. Instead I typically fish one or two Fish Flash on each side of the boat. For walleye I like the 4 inch version. For trout and salmon trolling applications the larger six and eight inch versions get the nod.

Flash is a powerful tool for attracting a host of fish species. Trout and salmon anglers have been using flash to improve their catch rates for decades, but attractors like the Big Al Fish Flash from Yakima can also be used to catch walleye, pike, musky and even panfish like crappie. For those who understand the value of flash as a fish attractant and how to get the most from this tool, fishing is an open book.