At times, skein can be the most effective bait and will even out-fish many of my favorite trout baits and steelhead baits, and salmon baits, but you need to know how to rig skein properly so it stays on the hook well and so it looks natural in the water.
One of my guides tells me early in the salmon run, nothing works better for him than skein. Skein is also one of the top baits when casting the open water near the river mouths when the salmon, trout, and steelhead are staging there.
Myself and other anglers also know when salmon are holding in slow clear pools and are nervous and refuse all other baits, it’s often skein that will get the job done.
For me, in the gin-clear smaller rivers, I rig skein with an egg loop and use a smaller size 10 hook so it doesn’t spook the salmon.
I also use skein for all trout species and for steelhead.
The 2 Ways To Rig Skein
There are 2 ways I fish skein for trout in rivers. One is with a bait loop knot, and the other is tying the eggs and membrane into an egg sac.
Eggs sacs hold the skein on the hook better and allow you to go super small which can be very effective. Skein tied into egg sacs also has the added advantage of adding different colors to the skein.
The advantage to not using spawn netting is that loose skein attached with an egg loop knot has more natural movement and profile since it’s not tied into a ball.
However, I have found both ways usually are equal.
The size of the hook you use is important and hook size will depend on the size of the skein chunk required. For a big chunk of skein that is the size of a ping-pong ball or golf ball, you might use a hook size 2 to 6. For a small chunk that might contain 2 to 4 eggs, you should probably use a size 10 or 12 hook.
The size of the skein that you should be using will depend on the conditions of the river and the size of the trout. If your river is full of 5 to 10-inch brook trout you don’t want to be using a golf ball size chunk of skein.
In fast water or water that is not very clear, you would use a larger piece of skein, especially for bigger fish, which might mean your skein chunk will be the size of a ping-pong ball or the size of a quarter.
If it’s a small stream or/ and it’s very clear water, or all small trout, you will probably do better with a smaller piece of skein with 2 to 5 eggs.
Most often when trout fishing, I will use a piece of skein with 3 to 4 eggs and just enough of the membrane to hold the skein on the hook.
As mentioned, often I will tie the eggs into spawn netting if the skein I have is breaking apart easily or if I want a very small bait. Tiny spawn sacs the size of a green pea or a dime work better for trout than a ping-pong ball size.
I discuss the best spawn netting colors, best types of spawn netting, sizes of the sacs to use, how to hook the sac on, and even determining the proper hook size on my page Spawn Bags: Tips and Tactics.
I should be doing a video on this soon (2023).
If you have any tips and tricks to rig skein, or curing it, and fishing with skein, let us know in the comments section below.