The concept of meat rigging for salmon and trout (or any other open water feeding species) has been around for some time. In general, the presentation is meant to represent a feeding fish knocking the snot out of bait. Each labeled portion of the below illustration serves a purpose.
Flasher/Attractor - Feeding fish - the 'whump' of the flasher through the water attracts other fish and simulates a feeding fish. Fish mood will determine color selection. Active fish - more aggressive colors and/or patterns. Neutral to negative - go more natural.
Teaser Flies - Blood and Scales - a sparse version of a standard trolling fly or smaller "body" style teaser (we use squids) can accomplish this. While you can run more than two teasers, we tie our complete rigs with two so they will be equally productive in both a hot bite as well as when the fish seemingly have lockjaw.
Bait - just as it sounds - we prefer herring strips over anything else, but we have had success with a multitude of various bait and products. This is where - provided you are following your local regulations - the art of meat rigging comes in. For us, we prefer to brine our own, keeping the natural color of the strip. The beauty of brining your own is you can keep the 'A' side, as well as add your own ingredients...we do...
Butt Crack - the gap between the last teaser and the bait head - by varying this distance, you can adapt to the mood of the fish. When the fish are more active, a shorter gap will do the trick. When the fish shut down, a longer gap works wonders. We've got several custom rigs we use pushing 10' with a 5-6' butt crack for when the fish are extremely negative (post-front, nasty conditions). We've found through our years of fishing meat that this gap should correlate to the feeding activity. Our standard rigs have a gap of approximately 2-2.5' which covers most bite conditions.
GENERAL TIPS for Full Rigs
Many colors can work at any time, however, there's a general pattern that we've established.
In the early season, many of our fish will come on our shorter rigs. As far as color is concerned, we typically keep them brighter/more aggressive.
As summer progresses, we'll move to more of a 'natural' bite. The rigs become longer and the colors will become a bit more natural/subtle. Reds, Golds, Coppers, and Whites are good during this period.
Towards the end of summer, the fish could go either way - bright/aggressive or natural - but typically the more aggressive colors tend to produce. The key during this period is varying the length of the rig until you determine what the fish want. Generally speaking, this time of year longer is usually better.
GENERAL TIPS for NAKED rigs - no teasers
These rigs can produce without the use of a flasher. More often than not, I'll have several of these set on our coppers and leadcores.
When the fish are in lockjaw mode, our spread will consist of our NAKED rigs set on our board lines without flashers and long NAKED rigs behind more natural flashers off of the riggers. We'll run the riggers both at the main temperature break and on the bottom. We do our best to keep all of our board lines around the temperature break.