A Pro’s Guide to Tying Spawn Sacs

By: James Swearingen

It’s been a year now since I’ve been I’ve been introduced to Trout Eggs and I’m here to tell they work. I’ve been using them exclusively and haven’t had to kill any steelhead or trout  just for their eggs. The Trout Eggs are fishing as well, if not better than fresh, uncured eggs, which trout and steelhead anglers have used for decades.

In this blog I’m going to cover how I tie spawn sacs for trout and steelhead success in the Great Lakes. It’s a super simple process that you don’t need a machine to do. You can tie the perfect spawn sac by hand and translate it to success on the water.


Pautzke Trout Eggs

Atlas Mike’s Spawn Netting

Magic Thread


Small Spoon

Start An Assembly Line

When making spawn sacs for trout and steelhead fishing I always start with what I call an assembly line. I lay out roughly 20 squares of 3×3 Atlas Mikes spawn netting and use a plastic baby spoon to put Trout Eggs onto the squares. I prefer 3×3 over 4×4 because the spawn sacs I use from fall through spring are smaller than what we would use in the fall for salmon. In my opinion if you opt for the 4×4 you are wasting a lot of netting.

Does Size Matter?

The answer is yes, size matters. The size of the sac used varies depending on water conditions. For example, in low and clear water a small sac is best, that’s roughly 15-20 Trout Eggs or about a half spoonful. Now if the water is muddy, a larger profile eggs is better, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-35 trout eggs or a heaping spoonful.


Building Time

After choosing how many eggs you’d like to use grab the netting and place it in your palm. Then grab each corner of the netting and start to rotate it to form an egg sac. You want the egg sac to have a round shape. This will give it the classic look trout and steelhead are attracted to.

Once twisted, keep your fingers pressed against the netting. Then use your fingernails on the hand you are pinching with as guide to begin wrapping the egg sac with Magic Thread. I’ll wrap the Magic Thread 10-12 times around the top of the egg sac before pulling tight and cutting with scissors. Remember to pull tight before cutting. Pulling it tight helps keep the sac synched together. It’s important that the sac remains tight. A loose egg sac doesn’t fish as well.


Choosing Magic Thread Color

There’s several colors of Magic Thread available and many trout and steelhead anglers use that to their advantage. Some choose to match the color to the color of netting, which works. Personally, I like to give the thread contrast to the egg sac. Normally, most anglers get pink netting with pink thread. I like to mix it up. For example, If I’m suing pink netting I’ll go with red or orange Magic Thread. In my opinion this resembles or acts like a blood dot, which I feel helps produce strikes, especially in low and clear conditions.

Keep in mind it’s called Magic Thread for a reason. You don’t have to tie knots with it. It’s an elastic thread. When you pull it tight it will sync down onto itself and create a knot, without any tying involved. That’s why Magic Thread is so valuable for spawn sac tying.

To Add or Not to Add Floaters

Many Great Lakes anglers don’t know what a Bait Sac Floater is. Bait Sac Floaters are common when tying spawn sacs and are a helpful accessory, when necessary. They are a tiny ball that you place in the sac when you add the Trout Eggs. The ball makes the spawn sac buoyant, which is important when fishing on the bottom. Otherwise, without the ball your egg sac will lay on the bottom. Floaters enable your egg sac to float in the strike zone rather than rest on the bottom where it isn’t likely to be eaten and more likely to get snagged.

I only use floaters when I’m fishing on the bottom or bottom bouncing the creek. Floaters aren’t necessary when you use a float, simply because the fixed/split float will keep your egg sac off the bottom already. When I choose to add floaters it’s only necessary to add two floaters. Several colors are available, but I prefer the pink or the orange. However, if you are fishing during lowlight conditions the Atlas Mike’s Glo Bait Sac Floaters are solid (see below photos). Keep and mind you need to charge them up with UV light or flashlight.

Choosing Spawn Net Color

Anglers match the color of Atlas Mike’s spawn netting to current water conditions. Below you’ll find the normal best option for each water condition. Most days I’ll come prepared with several color sacs. Fish turn on and off colors frequently.

Low and clear: Peach, Pink, White or Blue

Dirty water: Chartreuse

Off colored: Orange

The Wild Card: Blue: Excellent for pressured fish & clear water

Choosing Trout Eggs

Hands down, the Natural Trout Eggs are my favorite because while they don’t look as pretty as the Premium Trout Eggs, they smell exactly like real trout eggs (well, because they are). I like Naturals in the dirtier water particularly because they milk more than the Premiums do. On the other hand, I turn to Premiums more than the naturals in the low water because there isn’t any white eggs in them and it resembles a pure egg sac look.

For some reason a lot of anglers prefer the premium eggs simply because they look so good. Consequently, the Natural eggs have far more scent and they milk out much better, which is great for off colored water. The Natural Trout Eggs are like scent bombs. They don’t look great, but they smell and milk like real trout eggs. I haven’t tried the new Eyed Trout Eggs, but will be in the next week.

Do you have to cure Trout Eggs?

You don’t need to cure Trout Eggs. For the most part, I don’t. You don’t need to refrigerate them either. These eggs are ready to go right out of the jar and best of all you don’t have to kill a steelhead or brown trout to get eggs. Those days are fortunately behind us, just like I hope Covid is soon.

Nonetheless, you can cure these eggs with BorX O Fire if you’d like. I’ve learned that curing them does make them more durable and milk longer. If you do, a simple BorX O Fire dusting is all you need. There’s no need to coat them with a ton of cure. Keep in mind, these are trout eggs, not salmon/steelhead eggs. They are more delicate. A little cure goes a long way.

Editor’s Note: James Swearingen is the founder of Steel City Anglers. To follow along with his adventures please visit https://www.facebook.com/SteelCityAngler412.