Flasher and Fly Combinations

Why Flasher & Fly Combos Work

The “flasher and fly” combination has become one of the most popular set ups on the Great Lakes for salmon and trout fishing. There are some common questions that we get asked daily when it comes to fishing flasher and flies. These questions include: how does the flasher and fly work, what kind of flasher, what color combinations, what leader lengths, and what rod to run them on. We will go over these questions, but first, let’s talk about why the flasher and fly combo is so deadly. Salmon and trout utilize their lateral line to find food. This lateral line senses vibration and disturbances in the water. This is where the flasher and fly can really outshine other lures.

The primary forage food for Salmon are Alewives. These baitfish swim in large schools, and when salmon are feeding on them, they exhibit a slow roll when they are injured. If a salmon swims furiously through a school of baitfish, it may knock a few out with its tail as it passes. It will then circle back and pick up the baitfish that are slowly rolling with ease. The flasher fly combination was designed to represent an injured baitfish.

How Do Flasher & Fly Combos Work? 

How does the flasher and fly work? The flasher part of the set up is a plastic paddle or fish shaped design with slight curves or wings that, when trolled, will make a circle motion through the water. From the flasher we have a leader that runs down to the fly. Due to the flasher moving in a circle, the fly will follow its path and, slowly roll behind.

Types of Flashers

What kind of flasher? There are 2 main types of flashers that we utilize on our boats. The first is a paddle shaped flasher. We fish two standard sizes, 8-inch and 11-inch paddles. There is a variety of different brands that sell these paddles but some of our favorites are Dreamweaver, Pro King, and Pro-Troll. The next type that we run is a fish shaped flasher. These also come in 2 sizes that we will use throughout the season. Our favorite is the Spindoctor flasher from Dreamweaver Lures.

Color Combinations

What color combinations work best? When you browse a local tackle shop or shop online, it is easy to get overwhelmed. We will try to break it down into a few main colors and finishes. The most consistently productive flasher and fly combinations will have greens, blues, and whites in them. These colors most accurately represent a natural baitfish in the water. Flasher and fly combinations can also glow for low light situations, and contain UV material for when it is sunny out.

Leader Length

What is the right leader length for the fly behind the flasher? A great rule of thumb is 3x the length of the flasher. So, if we are fishing an 8-inch paddle or Spindoctor, then we will run anywhere from 21-28 inches with 23-26 inches being our most consistent. If we are running larger paddles, then will run anywhere from 28-38 inches with 30-34 inches being our most consistent.


What rod should I run a flasher and fly on? The easy answer, all of them. But, we usually run them on our downriggers or dipsey diver rods. The flasher and fly combo is a fish calling machine. Like we talked about earlier, salmon and trout use their lateral line to detect disturbances in the water. The flashers put off a lot of disturbance and will draw fish into our spread of baits.

The flasher and fly is consistently what we catch the most, along with the biggest fish each year on. You will almost always see a flasher and fly combination going in the water when you fish with us. We love to answer questions and would be glad to show you exactly how we run these flasher and flies to catch you the biggest fish!