Fishing the Countdown for Trophy Brook Trout (and Other Salmonids)
The Countdown Rapala family, which now features the Elite series, is a deadly family of lures for brook trout in a wide variety of circumstances. The Countdown has a subtle, realistic action and look that drives big brook trout bonkers .Yet it literally will catch any fish with an adipose fin, and is an absolutely deadly presentation for rainbows, lakers, brown and pacific salmon. Here are a few tips on how to fish the Countdown.
The Countdown "Rule" and Lure Action
Whether you are fishing the classic Countdown, or the Elite, one rule applies for both. These lure will fall at a rate of one foot per second. So cast the Countdown in, and start counting. Count to 6, and you should be in 6 feet of water, a count of 10 is 10 feet. This remarkably simple rule provides an angler a lot of flexibility when it comes to fishing the Countdown. It also means you can fish a Countdown deeper than many other crankbaits.
Casting Countdowns from Shore
Both the original Countdown and the Elite are a great shore casting lure, especially on larger water-bodies like the Great Lakes. The inherent weight of the Countdown make them wind cheaters, allowing for long casts in challenging conditions. I recommend when fishing big water, that you use a medium action spinning rod on the long side (8 to 9 feet), with a reel spooled with 20 pound Sufix 832 and a leader of 10 pound fluorocarbon. On smaller lake, You can down size the rod, reel and line. I would recommend a 7 foot, medium action rod with 8 pound monofilament line. Connect the lure with a metal snap or Rapala loop knot. My go to Countdown for brookies on big water is the silver CD9, as it mimics the average size and shape of a smelt, shiner and other baitfish. I've also had good luck with firetiger, gold and brook trout finish. If the size of the bait is larger, a CD 11 is worth a try. Large brook trout are not shy about eating big Countdowns. On inland lakes, a CD 7 or CD 5 is generally a better all around size as the minnows and insects the inland fish eat. Retrieve the Countdown with small snaps of the rod tip, taking up a bit of line after motion. The Countdown will dart in an enticing manner, looking like an injured baitfish. On some inland lakes, brook trout will be shore oriented, so casting down the lake shore will allow you to cover more of the high probability water.
Lake Fishing a Countdown from a Boat
On larger brook trout lakes, such as Lake Superior, or Lake Nipigon, the fish will be mostly shore or reef oriented. This means pounding a lot of shore line and working rock-piles, points and other structure. In clear water, it never hurts to stay well off the shallows, and the great castability of both the classic Countdown and the Countdown Elite is a huge help doing this. When casting towards shore, I'd recommend picking up the retrieve as soon as the lure hits the water, and giving it some solid tip action on the retrieve. About 70% of the time, the hit will be moments after the lure hits the water. If there isn't a strike right away, let the Countdown sink a bit deeper as the water depth increases. The trout holding in this secondary, deeper water may not be quite as active, but can be teased into striking. Often the fish will hit the Countdown on the descent. One of the selling points of the new Elite, is it's Senko like drop as you stop the retrieve. The Elite drops perfectly horizontal, and look very enticing as they fall. The bright shimmer of the Elite's finish looks fantastic in the clear water brookies thrive in.
Fishing Rivers with a Countdown
Large rivers are one of the places both the classic Countdown and the Elite really shine. There are several ways to fish them. My favourite is to cast the Countdown towards the bank, quartering slightly downstream, and twitching the lure slightly as it drifts. You may need to retrieve a bit, but a dead drift is generally best. Fishing the new Countdown Elite this summer, I was amazed to see how lifelike it looked drifting in the current. This has always been a strong point with the Countdown family. The realistic dead drift in current is a trigger for large brook trout. Another great technique is to hold the boat steady in current, often at the tail out of a large pool, and cast the Countdown behind the boat. Then you can hold the rod and rhythmically jerk the lure forward, making it dance. Another great trick is to just put the rod in a holder, and let the Countdown hold in the current behind the boat. This "do nothing" approach has proven its worth many times over. Although a Countdown sinks, in heavy current the lure will stay just off bottom, doing a subtle little wiggle in the face of big brookies. One of my very largest brook trout ever, a 25.5 inch, 9 pound monster, grabbed a sliver CD 9 classic doing this very thing.
In smaller rivers, you will be casting from shore, generally in pools, runs, beaver ponds and at the base of falls. The smaller Countdown's of both styles work well in these rivers, particularly where baitfish like stickleback and sculpin are common. I've also found larger trout in rivers are cannibals, so the new Elite series in rainbow and brook trout pattern will be dynamite.
As stated in the intro, all salmonid species will respond well to the Countdown, in a wide variety of situations. I've had great luck catching both chinook and lake trout in large river s dead drifting a silver CD9. Shore-casting the Countdown for steelhead and browns in the Great Lakes is also a proven producer. No multi -species salmonid angler should be without a few Countdowns.
And if you are brook trout nut, you are missing the boat if you don't have a solid selection of classic and Elite Countdowns.
Article written by Gord Ellis, outdoor writer and fishing enthusiast.