Lyman plugs have a very erratic action in the water and I believe it is that action that creates the bite. In choosing a lure it is shape, size, color, in that order. Also keep in mind none of this is written in stone. Bottom liner it is still fishing, and what works today may not work tomorrow, I guess that is what keeps us challenged to to be successful in the fishing world. I use the 4″ Lyman plug 99% of the time. I believe that size duplicates the size of the bait fish that the rainbows are feeding on. I fish Lake Koocanusa , here in N.W. Montana for rainbows, and bull trout, the fish are feeding on small kokanee salmon. Colors will vary from day to day. Remember shape, size, color. Color is a trial an error. I fish with 8 lines in the water. 3 lines on each planer board and two lines straight back. I feel this gives me a good cross section of what the fish might want on that given day. On one side I will fish 3 streamer flies. On the other board I will put 3 Lyman plugs and the 2 straight back I will also put 2 lyman plugs. Never mix flies with plugs. The flies have to have action put to them by the board set up. The plugs have their own action so you pull the board very smooth. The 2 plugs straight back are my experimental plugs. I start the day putting the plugs 300′ behind the boat then attaching them to the boards. The flies I put 200-250′ behind the boat. Keep in mind the closer to the boat you put your set back the more action the plugs will have. I fish all mono line and it has a lot of stretch. The stretch in the line also helps my clients get the fish to the boat. Another rule of thumb is on dark cloudy, windy days=dark lures. Bright sunny days try bright lures. Colors, you try and match the bait fish. Although one of my best Lyman color is a black over purple plug? I don’t know why the fish hit it so well, but I never argue with the fish. The rougher the water the closer you can run your plugs to the boat. I use 12lb mono, tie on a duo snap then attach it to the plug. I never tie the line directly to the plug as there will be some line wear tying directly to the plug. Colors, I like are black/silver black/purple. Mostly black back over different belly colors. I have at least 30 to 40 different combonation colors and I will fish many different colors each day until the fish tell me what they want.
Downrigging is a different story. I usually drop the plug back at least 40′ remember the deeper, the closer to the ball you can put the plug. On the shallower areas I will put it maybe 100′ behind the ball. That is why when fishing the surface I put them 300′ back. When the boat goes over the fish they move out to the side and there are your planer boards pulling the plugs out to the sides. I fish downriggers anywhere from 30-40′ down to 300′ down. A big difference is that I use braided line on my downrigger rods. No stretch is very important fishing that deep. I always say it is a test! Do not get locked into one presentation or just one color or even one area of the lake. Stay flexible keep trying different colors and speeds. If it is not working why would you keep doing it. Keep fishing until you figure out the presentation for that day. Some days we never seem to know what the fish want, but that is why it is called fishing. Remember you are trying to stimulate that fish into a natural reaction bite. Kinda like a cat swiping at a ball of yarn. I troll the plugs at 3mph for the rainbows/bull trout, and 1.8 to 2.3 mph for the lake trout. One big advantage the Lyman plugs have over many other lures on the market is that they can be fished at different speeds.
I often tell people there are fishermen, then there are guys that just go fishing! We never stop learning. I hope this helps.
Mo Fisch Charters