If an accurate survey could be taken, I’d guess over half the coho salmon caught in Lake Michigan are hooked up using a six-inch metal dodger with a small trolling fly trailing behind it. If you asked a follow-up question about the D/F user’s favorite color of dodger, it would be fluorescent red.

            These little red dodgers are as good now as they were 50 years ago when cohos were first stocked in the lake. And for the first 40 or so years, finding them when you needed new ones or additional ones was simple. Most tackle shops had an ample supply and from many suppliers.

            These days, that’s not true. Whether it’s pandemic caused shortages, the switch to plastic flashers or whatever reason, finding coho dodgers is nearly impossible – even at online sources. If you do find them, the price is ridiculous.

            I’ve stumbled onto a source which has kept me well supplied – Hagen’s (www.hagenfish.com) sells unfinished 6 1/4-inch dodger blanks (their Size 2) in either unpainted steel or brass. I’m sure either would work but I use the brass ones. The price per blade goes down as the number ordered goes up.  If you order 25, they are less than a $1.25 each.

            Hagen’s does sell painted dodgers, but not orange. So I paint my own.

            I use spray paint from the hardware store – first a white primer goes on, then a top coat of fluorescent red. There are clear, top coats available, but you’ll get a season or more of use without the top coat protection.

            They come with no hardware, so buy some large split rings, swivels and snap swivels – also available at Hagen’s and put them together once the paint is dry. Hang a small trolling fly 16 or 18 inches behind the dodger, hook it up to a downrigger or diver and I bet it won’t be long until a Lake Michigan coho latches on.

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