Bunker Spoons - Secret Spoons Instructions

 
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Overview
Bunker SpoonsSecret Spoons really are the most effective trophy striped bass fishing lure ever.  Their unique action and design allows the angler to precisely target stripers staging or feeding at specific depths.  They are also deadly for every species of tuna!  Secret Spoons are very heavy and nearly 1lb heavier than any other comparable bunker spoons.  This means that angler need to use less line to control the spoons depth.  After a few trips anglers will become confident that if they mark fish, they will be able to catch them in nearly any depth or conditions using Secret Spoons.  Like any technique it takes some practice to gain this confidence.  The following instructions will help accelerate the learning process.
 
SPECIAL SPOON TIPS FOR THE FALL & SPRING!

Tip #1 - Fish the lower third of the water column when targeting Stripers
We get dozens of questions every week about how deep to fish bunker spoons. Though there are many times when the fish are very high in the water column especially when actively feeding on schooled up bait like bunker (menhaden, pogies, etc.), most of the time the biggest fish are found in the lower third of the water column. If you are fishing in 60ft of water, you need to get your spoons down to at least 40ft.

This is why Secret Spoons are made so heavy! At 1lb-9oz  these spoons are nearly 1lb heavier than an other spoon. They require no trolling (drail) weights to get down deep. At the proper trolling speeds these spoons sink between 1.5ft and 2.0ft for every 10 feet of wire. At the slower speeds you will need to put out only 200ft of wire to get down to 40ft.

Tip #2 - Watch those rod tips!
There is really no need to spend all your time trying to puzzle out the right speed to run your boat. Experienced captains almost never look at their instruments for speed information when pulling spoons. Instead, they simply watch to rod tips and adjust their speed until they see the distinctive pumping action. when the rod is pumping with big slow pulses, the spoon is wobbling back and forth and not spinning.

This is only one of the reasons  why it is so important to use a rod designed for pulling bunker spoons. These rods have a very slow action and will pump or pulse when the spoon is working correctly. Whenever using a new rod, simply drag your spoons behind the boat where they are still visible. Adjust your speed until the spoon is wobbling from side to side and observe the pulse of the rod. The pulse will be slightly less because there is so little line out of the reel, but you will get a good idea of what the rod should be looking like.

Tip #3 - Don't forget to tighten those screws!
The incredible action on these spoons will loosen the screws holding the weights in place.  Either add a few drops of Loctite or be sure to check the screws every 15 minutes or so.

 

Color Selection
Bunker Spoons - Secret SpoonsSecret Spoons come in a variety of colors to suite every possible need.  Different colors are effective based on the type of bait in an area, the light conditions, the depth being targeted, and individual angler fishing styles.  White is the most widely used of all bunker spoons. 

Bunker Spoons are most effective when pulled in pairs,  and many anglers run a white spoon along with their "best guess" color of the moment.  If the white spoon is out-producing the colored spoon, a different color is substituted.  Many times, the correct color will far out-produce the white and anglers will switch to a pair of the same color.  Most pros carry at least two spoons of each color that they find to be effective.

Rods
Secret Spoons are most effective when trolled on rods specifically designed for bunker spoons.  These rods are typically 8ft or longer and have medium/heavy power ratings and medium actions.  The medium action is very important as the rod must be able to pulse to give the spoon its best action.  These rods need to be rated for lines from 40-80lbs.  They typically have carboloy guides to prevent grooving from the wire line.  Some of the newer composite guides are also able to withstand the wire.  Many anglers use custom built rods for their bunker spoons, however several manufacturers offer rods specifically for trolling bunker spoons:
Manufacturer Model# MSRP
Shimano TLC-W80MHA $209.99
Seeker BA 1153M-8' WL $239.99
Seeker BA 1153M-9' WL N/A
Star DLX8/OWL $189.95
If anyone knows of any other manufacturers of rods suitable for bunker spoons, please contact us at info@striperspoons.com

Reels
The reel spool has to be able to withstand the "crush" and strength of wire. The gears need to be strong enough to withstand the heavy pull of the wire line on the troll.  Several manufacturers make reels that are well suited for wire and especially pulling big bunker spoons.
Manufacturer Model#
Shimano Tekota-700
Penn 113H
Penn 114
Newell 440-3.6
Newell 540-3.2
If anyone knows of any other manufacturers of reels suitable for bunker spoons, please contact us at info@striperspoons.com

Line
Wire line provides the best sink rate.  Sink rate is very important as it allows the angler to use less line to target a specific depth.  This means that the bunker spoons will "sag" less on turns and reduces the chance of hitting the bottom.  Many anglers are initially intimidated by wire line, but after a few trips they refuse to use anything else.  Wire line is made fro either Monel or Stainless Steel.  Monel is softer and more forgiving (less likely to kink and break), but is more expensive than Stainless Steel.  For bunker spoons at least 40lb wire must be used.  Many anglers use 50lb or 60lb because it is tougher and provides a greater sink rate.  Wire line is usually marked every 50ft so that the angler knows exactly how much wire is out and subsequently the depth of the bunker spoon.

Some anglers choose to use Lead Core line.  This line is much more forgiving than wire line, but does not provide the same sink rate due to its larger diameter and lower density.  However, it can be used effectively provided the angler is very careful when making turns (more line means more "sag").

Some anglers also choose to use braided or fused lines.  These lines have very low diameter and no stretch.  They are also virtually indestructible.  They still do not have a sink rate anywhere near that of wire line.  Once again, they can be used effectively for bunker spoons with some practice.

Wire Line Manufacturers
American Fishing Wire
Malin
If anyone knows of any other manufacturers of wire line, please contact us at info@striperspoons.com

Leader and Swivels
Bunker Spoons - LeaderThe main line, regardless of its type (wire, braided, or lead core) must be connected to a length of 80lb or heavier fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.  The leader must be long enough so that the angler can get a few turns on the reel when a fish is being handled at boat-side.  Fluorocarbon leaders are more expensive, but are very tough and virtually invisible in the water.  There are many manufacturers of fluorocarbon, but many pros have recently switched to Yo-Zuri Disappearing Pink Fluorocarbon because of its durability and ability to maintain low visibility even after being scuffed.

Bunker Spoons - SwivelsThe leader is connect to the main line using either an Albright knot or a small swivel.  SPRO manufacturers the smallest, strongest, and most durable swivels.  130lb SPRO Power Swivels provide an easy and functional connection (eliminating any chance of twist from inadvertent spinning).  These swivels are tiny enough to fit through even the smallest guides. 

Be careful, other manufacturers have attempted to imitate the SPRO Power Swivel with clearly deficient products.  The imitations look good out of the package, but simply they do not stand up to the rigors of trolling use.

The leader is connected to the Secret Spoon using a either a clinch knot or a 100lb (or stronger) snap (no swivel).  A swivel is not needed as the lure already has a 330lb SPRO Power Swivel.  Anglers wishing to use a snap swivel should first remove the swivel from the Secret Spoon.  SPRO recently introduced Power Swivels with Coast Lock Snaps that are perfect for this application.

Hooks
A wide variety of hooks can be used on bunker spoons.  Single hooks and double hooks are the most effective.  Some anglers insist on using only single hooks, while others switch hooks during the course of the season or even during a single day.  The difference seems to be based on angler fishing style, location, and time of year.  All hooks should be size 8/0 or larger.  The most widely used hook is the Gamakatsu 8/0 Siwash.  These are incredibly sharp hooks and are a perfect match for these bunker spoons.  They should be replaced immediately when the points get damaged.  When using a double hook, the hook should be attached directly to the split ring with the hook points on un-weighted side of the spoon so that they point up and will not snag the bottom.
Hook choices
Gamakatsu 8/0 Siwash (Stainless)
Mustad 7897DT (Duratin) size 21 double hook
Mustad 7982HD (Duratin) size 9/0 or 10/0 double hook
Mustad 7982HS (Stainless) size 9/0 or 10/0 double hook
Many of these hooks are available at
Terminal Tackle 631-269-6005
J&B Tackle 860-739-7419
Sea Isle Sports Center 877-434-7474
If anyone has any other hook choices or good sources for hooks, please contact us at info@striperspoons.com

Trolling Speed
2.7-3.3 knots or 3.1-3.8 mph is the preferred trolling speed range.  Any faster and bunker spoons may begin to spin.  To ensure proper speed simply put out a few feet of line and watch the spoon at boat-side.  The spoon will wobble back and forth in a cupping motion.  This is the speed relative to the water (as seen on a paddlewheel speedometer) and does NOT take into account current which can have a dramatic effect on the speed over bottom (as seen on a GPS).  Learn more below in the section about trolling direction.

Captains note: There is really no need to spend all your time trying to puzzle out the right speed to run your boat. Experienced captains almost never look at their instruments for speed information when pulling spoons. Instead, they simply watch to rod tips and adjust their speed until they see the distinctive pumping action. when the rod is pumping with big slow pulses, the spoon is wobbling back and forth and not spinning. 

This is only one of the reasons why it is so important to use a rod designed for pulling bunker spoons. These rods have a very slow action and will pump or pulse when the spoon is working correctly. Whenever using a new rod, simply drag your spoons behind the boat where they are still visible. Adjust your speed until the spoon is wobbling from side to side and observe the pulse of the rod. The pulse will be slightly less because there is so little line out of the reel, but you will get a good idea of what the rod should be looking like.

Depth Control
Typical sink rates 1.5 ft of depth (or more) per 10 ft of wire line.  (Slightly less for the Sure Strike edition). The sink rate will vary based on line weight, line diameter, and boat speed (relative to the water - as seen on a paddlewheel speedometer).  See more below in the section about trolling direction.  The spoons are typically most effective when fished in the lower third of the water column.

Captains note: We get dozens of questions every week about how deep to fish bunker spoons. Though there are many times when the fish are very high in the water column especially when actively feeding on schooled up bait like bunker (menhaden, pogies, etc.), most of the time the biggest fish are found in the lower third of the water column. If you are fishing in 60ft of water, you need to get your spoons down to at least 40ft.  This is why Secret Spoons are made so heavy!  At 1lb-9oz these spoons are nearly 1lb heavier than an other spoon. They require no trolling (drail) weights to get down deep.  At the proper trolling speeds the Secret Spoon sinks between 1.5ft and 2.0ft for every 10 feet of wire. At the slower speeds you will need to put out only 200ft of wire to get down to 40ft. 

The Sure Strike edition sinks a little more than 1.0ft for every 10ft of wire and is similar to traditional bunker spoons.

Trolling Direction
Like most bunker spoons, Secret Spoons are most effective when pulled across the current!  This negates the effect that current has on the depth of the spoon and ensures that the speed relative to the water (as seen on a paddlewheel speedometer) is nearly the same as the speed over bottom (as seen on a GPS).  The spoon is then presented to the striped bass as a baitfish that is being swept broadside to the current. 

The spoons should almost never be pulled down-tide (with the current coming from behind the boat), as the current will drive the spoons into the bottom.  The only way to to maintain depth would be to increase the speed over bottom (as seen on a GPS).  Thus to keep the spoons at the same depth in a 1 knot following current, the boat speed would have to be 3-3.5 knots over the bottom which would hurt the presentation.

When trolling in significant current all turns should be made up-tide (into the current) and never down-tide (current from behind), or the spoons may sink too deep and hit the bottom.

Many Secret Spoon pros have their best results while quartering into the current (slightly up-tide), especially when working over structure.  With a little practice the angler can determine exactly what effect the trolling direction has on spoon depth and make perfect presentations to fish that are holding on structure.

Rod Placement
Many anglers use out-rodders or other similar fixtures so that their rods are horizontal to the waters surface.  This has the benefit of getting the line closer to the waters surface and less line is needed get to a specific depth.  When standard gunwale rod holders are used, the rod tips are several feet above the water and extra wire must be let out to compensate for this. 

Whenever using these fixtures it is critical to use a safety line on the rod and all anglers aboard need to know the exact routine for getting the rod out of the holder when a fish is hooked.  It is much easier to "sweep" the rod out of the holder when coming from the stern toward the bow, as opposed to attempting to pull the rod out of the holder from the other direction. 

 
     
 
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Bunker Spoons - Secret Spoons - Instructions