A perfect, single, salmon egg catches trout, especially steelhead.
Where do you buy perfect single eggs? You can't.
All single eggs are not created equal. Yes, you can catch steelhead on Mikes garlic flavored salmon eggs, but better options are available. Erie tackle shops sell cured single eggs. Most anglers do not have the time to deal with getting fresh salmon eggs and curing them so buying the finished product is a good option for most of us. They work fine; however, there will be times when you may notice some anglers catching more fish while using what appears to be the same single egg bait as you.
Since we can eliminate that you are just being out-fished, the natural reaction is to say, "that angler has better eggs". So what then? Been there and done that!
How do you get perfect single eggs? You make them from "scratch".
I have been "scratching" for years trying to create single egg bait for steelhead. I know what I want to accomplish. I want an egg that looks like it just came out of a female salmon in both color and scent, holds the hook for multiple casts, and slowly bleeds scent into the water while maintaining a translucent color. No easy task.
I have read all the "how-to" articles, even wrote a few. Plenty of anglers have offered advice which I gratefully applied to my next batch. Up to now, the results have been good. Some results were even great. I caught fish, but I was never totally satisfied with the preparation process or the outcome.
I recently accepted a large batch of fresh, salmon eggs from a friend. He knew I would treat the eggs and apply new versions of the "single egg" process in my search for the "perfect single".
The egg "bath" I use now is 4 cups of distilled water and 10 ML of muriatic acid. Into that bath I put 1 cup of fresh/untreated loose salmon eggs, and let them in the bath for 30 minutes. I started testing the hook-holding properties with a size 16 hook every 60 seconds from that point on. If the egg center truns to "jelly," you cooked them too long. When I was satisfied, I immediately drained the eggs and put them into plain water to stop the "cooking" process. After draining well, put the eggs in a bag or container.
Depending on your salmon eggs, the timing needs to be adjusted. Don't forget to use plastic utensils when working with acid.
My latest batch of finished eggs had great color [my wife named it orange-pearl]. They hold the hook, and bleed fish attracting scent,. The only test not yet done is how they fish and hold their color after several casts.
When you look at the photos, you will see why I am excited about the finished eggs.
Using the same bath formula, I "cooked" fresh egg cure treated eggs, fresh borax treated egg, and finally, frozen then thawed egg cure treated eggs. In all cases, the finished eggs looked fine and had the same properties as the fresh, raw eggs that I treated. Those three batches pictured below look nearly identical to the raw, untreated egg batch. After years of failures, I have kept track of those formula variables that make a difference in the egg cooking outcome.
Fresh eggs, distilled water, muriatic acid, and cooking time are the variables that make a difference. Start with bad eggs, you get bad bait. Water that contains chemicals like chlorine or water treatment salt will affect the color outcome of your bait. A capful of acid is not a measurement - cold medicine. Use some type of cheap timer to keep tract of cooking time with the exception of acid amount, it is the most important variable. Finally how you handle eggs or most bait for that matter, affects its fish catching value.
Just in case you need more information, I have added a video showing the "cooking" process. Be aware that the timing and water amounts mentioned in the video may be different then the information in this article. As I experiment with cooking formulas, those variales change. Again, remember 1 cup eggs, 4 cups water, 10 ML acid, 30 minutes.