Spin Fishing Lees Ferry
The most effective way to spin-fish Lees Ferry is to drift from a boat. We motor up to the top of the run, kill the motor and begin drifting. Your guide will usually use oars to keep the bow of the boat facing into the current (upstream.) When the drift is completed, you’ll motor back up to the head of the drift to repeat. This style of fishing can be highly productive and is a great way to see and experience the river and its spectacular scenery.
The key to spin-fishing success at Lees Ferry is keeping your lure on or bouncing along the bottom for as long as possible . . . only reeling to pick up extra slack. Rapalas (CD7s), Shad Raps (SR5s), Maribou Jigs, Kastmasters, San Juan Worms, Scuds and Glo-Bugs are some or our favorite attractors. Remember: Lees Ferry fishing regulations require barbless hooks, so be sure to crimp the barbs on all your lures.
Rapalas (CD7) in Perch, Trout or Black and Gold tend to be the more effective colors. When fishing Rapalas, cast to the rear of the boat and reel against the current even when fishing slower waters or back eddies. Reeling against that current provides the best action on the lure. A general rule is the faster the current the slower one should reel and vice versa.
Another effective option is back-plugging or back-trolling using Rapalas or Shad Raps (SR5s) in Plain Shad, Perch or Black and Gold. The Shad Raps is a deeper water lure. When back-trolling, keep the motor in gear with the bow facing upriver with the current moving faster than your idle speed. Using either the Shad Raps or Rapalas cast the lure behind the boat, letting the current provide the lure’s action. It is important not to set the hook when back-trolling, but rather let the fish hook themselves.
Fishing Maribou Jigs is another effective approach. Cast the jig slightly upstream while keeping your rod at a 45 degree angle in the air, allowing the jig to bounce along the bottom; however, you’ll want to flick your wrist, which keeps the lure moving along the bottom without hanging up. Use the same technique when fishing ¼-ounce Kastmasters. Often we will fish a rocky shore line by casting the jig into the shore and allowing it to sink; occasionally, lifting the rod tip (jigging) and allowing the jig to sink. The fish will almost always hit the lure on the drop.
One of the more common techniques is bouncing flies such as San Juan worms, Scuds or Glo-Bugs off the bottom with a spinning rod. Spool your spinning rod with 4- or 6-pound test line; heavier line does not work for this technique. We prefer to use pencil lead held to the line with surgical tubing. Attach two to three feet of small diameter 4-pound test or 4X tippet to the end of your monofilament with a surgeon’s or blood knot. Place the lead just above the knot, leaving two to three feet between your lead and attractor. Cast this rig slightly upstream, allowing the rig to reach the bottom. Begin fishing when your line is about 90 degrees or straight off of the boat and you are drifting about the same speed as the current. You should feel it bouncing … watch your rod tip jerking ever so slightly. Once your rig gets below the boat, recast upstream. The key is to adjust your lead weight so that you’re skimming the bottom and not hanging up. That is one big advantage to using the pencil lead. It rolls on the bottom and you can cut several different sizes and adjust your weight in seconds. If you feel a hard stop and you don’t think you have a fish, set the hook by raising your rod. Hook-sets are free and you have nothing to lose.