Make your own Slinkies

by Timothy Kusherets

If you’re not fishing the snags then you’re not fishing the fish. Ever heard that one before? I know I have and cannot repeat it enough. It doesn’t matter where I go or what type of river, stream, or lake I fish anglers are having a very difficult time with the premise. Either they are fishing snags and getting hung up spending a vast amount of time retying their gear or they’re simply so worried about snags that some anglers opt to fish as far from them as possible. If you fish long enough you’re going to lose gear to just about everything in the water; hopefully some of those times are due to fish. There is a happy medium that some fishermen are aware of but don’t do anything about while others are completely oblivious and don’t know any better. I’m talking about slinkies. Slinkies are weighting systems that will keep you in the water longer in and around snags without losing an inordinate amount of gear. It’s not perfect but it does look that way after spending hours a day retying rather than fishing. Learn what they are, make them, buy them, know when to use them, and keep a steady supply handy for those times when fish are abundant and snags are plenty. Another aspect of slinkies is to rig them to counter-spin; that’s right…spin, which will covered later in the article. When it comes to slinkies if there are other anglers on the water not using them you’ll know almost instantly, and they’ll know that you know something they don’t.

Slinkies are lead shot inserted into pliable parachute cord and sealed at both ends using a match to melt them. There are size ranges in shots and weight. It all depends on the water you intend to fish. If the water is fast and deep then your slinkies should be heavy to resist the current. If the water is slower and half as deep then conversely so too will the length and shot size of your slinky. Notice that I haven’t mentioned substrate conditions to match the size of the weight? If you intend to drift fish for salmon, steelhead, and trout then it doesn’t really matter whether there are boulders, rocks, or gravel. Drifting for these fish requires that you cover all the areas riddled with snags, which are elements that determine what size of slinky to use.

Slinkies are easily made at home with the use of a Plunger, Funnel, Needle-nose Pliers, Scissors, and Matches; I prefer to light a candle and keep that burning next to me. All of the tools needed to make slinkies can be purchased in any sporting goods store. Lay them out in front of you with shot place in a cup or small dish. Have the parachute cord laid out over the lap or on a tray, which I like to do. Sit next to a table and place the scissors, pliers, and candle on it. Depending on the shot size the best rules of thumb for weighting systems are on the 25 percent increase: ¼ quarter ounce weight; ½ ounce weight; ¾ ounce weight; and 1 ounce weight. In almost all conditions you’ll probably never need a weight more than once ounce. This is the basic slinky building premise. It’s easy to do and costs far less than buying them, though there are some merits to doing just that.

Purchasing slinkies could not be easier. They are in just about any sporting goods store that has a fishing section; there is however a tradeoff. They cost a bundle when compared to making them. Including the shot and parachute cord it cost about .10 cents to make a slinky at home, if you purchase the shot and cord by the container; so it’s a bulk purchase. If you opt to buy them they cost between 2.50 and 3.00 dollars U.S. There are some benefits to purchasing them with one aspect of ease. It takes no effort or time to buy them. They’re easy to come by and last forever when compared to other weight systems meant o break away from snags. The biggest savings is time and whether it comes to procrastination of not wanting to stress about weights or you simply have money to burn, buying them does have their merits. It all comes down to what you want. Some fishermen I take out want to know everything while others just went me to point and say “cast there”. It all depends on personal needs and wants.

Now that you know about the options of getting or making slinkies it’s time to consider when, where, and how to use them.
Slinkies are meant to hug the substrate and “slink” over obstacles in the water, be it boulders, rocks, logs, drop-offs, and sometimes even around or over fish. It happens, not often but it does. The purpose of this weight is to allow the leader to make a natural presentation as it makes its way downstream. Depending on the size of the slinky and depth of the reach will dictate how well the presentation looks to fish. The rule of thumb for rigging up the weight amount is this: the closer to the bed you want the offering the shorter the leader should be. The closer to the surface you want the offering to be the longer the leader should be; of course you can vary this interpretation of weight by keeping one length of leader and increasing the amount of weight to suit your particular reach of water’s needs.

There are just a few more things to know before committing to buying and making slinkies and one of them is how to rig them properly diminishing the possibility of “line twist”. Line twist happens when there is not sufficient amount of counter spinning created by currents and how offerings rotate in the water; however, to counter that I propose, and use, a double swivel setup specifically designed for drifting slinkies. The double-rig setup is exactly as it sounds. Use two: one to the mainline, and one to the leader. Use a snap swivel on each. The premise is that not only will this eliminate any line-twist but also diminish the risk of the weight system from grinding on the leader and mainline, which does happen when using one swivel, whether it’s a barrel or snap swivel.

The setup for using slinkies is simple and truly an effective way to keep in the water. The more time you’re fishing the more chances of hookups. It’s simple math and logic. If you’re not retying or trying to get un-snagged you’re fishing. Make slinkies yourself and you save a vast amount of money; pennies to the dollar. Anglers all know that we get nickeled and dimed to death and it all adds up; this is yet one way to keep that money in your pocket.

These are what slinkies look like; simple right? It’s a weighting system that will keep you in the water over 20 times longer than anglers using other weights where snags and boulders are found.

Using a double-rig swivel setup on my slinky I was able to spend far more times fishing than un-snagging. This Coho was one of four that was landed and released from 4:00pm, when I arrived,  to dusk.  Anglers later told me that they had pounded the water all day without a single hookup blaming it on snags in the water.

In almost all cases all it takes to un-snag a slinky is to wrap the mainline around the left hand, grasp the butt just above the handle, using the other at the reel, and making quick successive jerks with the rod out and in front of you. In seconds you’re back to fishing.

Making slinkies at home saves a ton of money by comparison to shopping for them in sporting goods stores. 1) The Plunger used to gently insert shot 2) Shot that’s inserted into the funnel 3) Cord that is placed at the end of the funnel 4) Funnel that is inserted into the cord

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