Plug Wraps

Plug Wrapping Supplies

Whether you're a fan of Qwikfish or FlatFish there is no doubt that wrapping a large chunk of fresh juicy sardine meat makes all the difference in the world when your chasing big late summer and fall chinook salmon. Twenty five years ago wrapping a plug was a pretty big secret, but today it's common knowledge that wrapping your plug with sardine fillets are necessary to get bit. With so many accomplished anglers back trolling plugs with wraps what separates some guides and anglers from the others. Why do a few of them always seem to be into fish, while others rarely get a hit.. The answer is simple. The days of just putting on a fresh sardine fillet are over. The fish flat out get to see too many plain fillets, and need a little something extra to peak their interest. The following are a few hot tricks of the trade that will get you into more fish!


SELECTING SARDINES
Always try and find the freshest sardines. Some guys like huge sardines, but I find the baits that are 8 to 9 inches long work great, and there is less waste per fillet. If your baits are vacuum packed make sure you poke a small hole in the bag before defrosting, or you'll crush your baits as they defrost. Most of the fillet pieces I wrap on my plugs are around 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. Occasionally I'll wrap a plug with a huge fillet, as I want to further slow down the action of the plug. Besides adding scent to a plug the wraps also slows down the erratic action of a plug. The larger the wrap, the slower the action. We have a few areas where we really get clobbered when the plug slowly waddle as we troll or back troll. The larger the wrap the slower the action, but the larger wraps also tend to detune a plug more severely. So wraps provide a necessary scent trail but also help control the action of your lure. The proper placement of the wrap will also allow the plug to stay tuned while you are fishing it. If the wrap is too far off to one side your plug will not run true, and it will consistently break either right or left and pop up on the surface. You can do minor corrections as to how true your plug is tracking by adjusting the plug's eyelet, but this will correct only so much. If the fillet is applied way off center adjusting the eyelet will not help. So we'll cover this too in the next few sections.

Most anglers defrost their sardines the morning of, or the night before they fish them. We recommend you start preparing your fillets at least two nights before you need them.

Filleting sardines

FILLETING SARDINES
Use a razor sharp knife or you'll tear up your fillets. Cut right behind the head until you feel the blade touch the spine. Then lay the blade down and follow the spine all the way to the tail. Use your free hand to hold the sardine in place as you work the knife down the spine towards the tail. Don't push your knife through the flesh, but use a gentle sawing action instead. After the first fillet is done turn the bait over and do the other side. Remove all your fillets at this time.

Trimming sardines

TRIMMING YOUR SARDINES
This is a huge tip, and if you're not doing it already you're gonna love this! Put your knife away and do all the trimming to size using a good pair of stainless steel scissors. You can trim perfect fillets every time, and you won't tear the heck out of your delicate fillets. After trimming to size I cut my slot to go around the belly hook of the plug. I trim all of my fillets at one time, and usually wind up with four usable fillets per fish.

Scenting your fillets-night 1

SCENTING YOUR FILLETS - NIGHT #1
Sprinkle all of your fillets with PRO-CURE's Slam-ola Powder in either the regular or garlic formula. This powder will not only toughen your fillets, it also imparts a powerful chemical scent that salmon really go for. If you're into adding amino acids and bite stimulants you can also apply PRO-CURE's Monster Bite powder at this time. Put all of your fillets in a tightly sealed plastic container and place in the fridge overnight. If you check these baits in the morning your feel how much tougher and more durable they are, and if you take a careful sniff you'll smell the chemical scent attractant coming off these baits.

Scenting your fillets-night 2

SCENTING YOUR FILLETS - NIGHT #2
Carefully smear each fillet with either pure sardine oil or PRO-CURE's Sardine Bait Sauce. Bait Sauce contains both pure raw sardine oil and ground up whole sardines, with amino acids already added. Some anglers add just enough scent to cover their fillets, and some have their fillets literally soaking in scent. That choice is up to you. Fillets should soak in scent at least one night before wrapping plugs, but it will not harm them to sit in scent, on ice or in your refrigerator for several days. Since salmon migrating up a heavily fish river get to see so much of the same thing many top guides treat their fillets with different scent combinations. Some guides mix these different scents with their sardine scent base, while others will occasionally omit the sardine scent all together. Proven scents to add or use are Crawfish Bait Sauce, Garlic Crawfish Bait Sauce (this has really been hot, and can be applied either straight or mixed with the Sardine scents). Shrimp Bait sauce and Sand Shrimp Bait sauce are also good choices. Again always keep fillets either in the fridge or on ice in a TIGHTLY sealed container.

Wrapping your plugs

WRAPPING YOUR PLUGS
Make sure your plug is not attached to your main line or leader. With the center slit in your fillet slide your bait up and around the plugs belly hook eyelet. Some guys remove the belly treble hook to do this, but it a lot easier and faster to just learn to work around the attached hook. After the fillet is centered around the belly hook start by wrapping either magic thread or stretchy thread around the plug and the front of the fillet. Make a few loose turns to pin the thread in place, and then start to make tighter wraps. You don't want your wraps to be so tight that you're crushing your fillets into mush, but you want them tight enough that they are indenting into the flesh of the fillet. When you've wrapped the front of the fillet to the hook eye flip the hook forwards and then wrap the back of the fillet. When this is secure, wrap to the front of the fillet and take a few half hitches around your bait to secure your wrap. ( note : for clarity purposes the fillet we photographed was not scented.)

Adjusting your wrap

ADJUSTING YOUR WRAP
Take a look at your finished wrap to see how centered it appears. If it needs adjusting gently push the fillet into the correct position. You don't want your wraps loose, but when properly wrapped there should be enough play to be able to move a fillet enough to balance out your plug.

Storing your wrapped plugs

STORING YOUR WRAPPED PLUGS
I immediately place my wrapped plugs into a large plastic storage container and put them in the fridge, or on ice. Wrapped plugs can be stored cold for several days with no problems. The more goo and scent stuck on your plugs the heavier the scent trail when you finally put them into the water.

Tuning your plugs

TUNING YOUR PLUGS
Even the most perfectly wrapped plug might need to be tweaked a little bit to make sure it tracks correctly in the water. Always make sure your plug is attached using a Duolock snap. Never tie your plugs directly to your line or leader. Place your plug in the water right next to your boat, and get it below the surface a foot or so. Pull your plug rapidly upstream a few feet and watch what it does. If it's action is balanced your ready to fish. If it breaks right or left, or runs true for a few seconds and then breaks to either side you need to tune your plug. If the plug breaks right you need to turn the eyelet slightly to the left. It might be a very slight adjustment, so don't over adjust the eyelet. Sink the plug again and see what happens. You may need to make more of an adjustment, or you may have over corrected. It is critical that these plugs are tuned so they track correctly.

APPLYING MORE SCENT
Many times you're running plugs that are fishing great and putting out a good scent trail, but there's just aren't any fish around. Many top anglers will only run a wrapped plug for 30 minutes or so before changing plugs or re wrapping plugs. This is certainly an option, but with the advent of the newer gel scents it's really practical to leave the original wrap on to regulate the plugs action ( especially if it's tracking well) and re scenting the plug using a gel scent. PRO-CURE's new Super Gel is available in Sardine, Anchovy, Shrimp, Krill, Crawfish, Anise Crawfish, and Garlic Crawfish. Smelly Jelly has their line of Sticky Liquids, and Mike's Atlas has Lunker Lotion in many different flavors. All can be applied to a plug in a matter of seconds. Pulling plugs that are putting out a maximum amount of scent is critical if a hot bite is starting to happen.

RE-TUNING PLUGS AFTER LANDING A FISH
Usually a wrap is totally destroyed after landing a fish, but whether you can get away with staying with the same wrap or not you should still check to see how the plug is tracking before lowering it down to fish. Thrashing fish, nets and billy clubs can all knock a plugs eyelet out of whack. Just follow the steps listed above to re-tune you plug.

Cleaning plugs

CLEANING PLUGS
Many anglers ask about cleaning plugs at the end of the days fishing. If I'm fishing the next day I'll give my plugs a quick squirt of WD 40 and wipe off all the scent and bait residue with a fish towel or a paper towel. If I'm off the water I'll use lemon Joy and an old soft tooth brush to give my plugs a good cleaning. They can also be dumped into the silverware tray in you dish washer and run through a light wash cycle. Just be careful that some dish washer detergents will dull the metallic finishes on some plugs.

One final note is that anchovy fillets can be substituted as plug wraps with great success, and some anglers even fillet shrimp tails and use them as wraps. The bottom line is having the action of these proven plugs with a great scent coming off of them means more big fish in the box. How bad is that!