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Pass the Plastics Please
By Sheldon Meidinger

Whether or not to use real bait or something plastic was never that big of a choice. Traditionally, the choice was bait and if plastics were used, they were often tipped with bait. Sure there was a cult following. Some lake anglers relied on using plastics when pitching into weeds. Other anglers liked different kinds of tails and bodies for bulking up the profile of a jig. Over the past few years however has been a rebirth of plastics. New technology keeps making some of the new products better and better each season.

Yar-Craft pro, Sheldon Meidinger

Yar-Craft pro, Sheldon Meidinger shares a few small details to make you more proficient at catching walleye using a jig

The rage for this season has been Berkleyís Gulp products. If you liked traditional scented plastics like Berkley Power Bait, all I can tell you is that you will love Gulp. Anglers are getting more and more confident with plastics. In fact, there are many anglers who are now more confident with plastics than they ever were with live bait. The new plastics work that good and the crowd who is now leaving bait behind is growing each year. This revolution in fishing tactics is nothing short of amazing. There are a few key advantages to using plastics besides the obvious key issues like being able to pick a certain size or color. Plastics generally have very good action in the water and stay on the hook. Often, anglers report that they miss a fish and the fish hits the jig again. With live bait, you are often bait less after a missed fish. The enhanced profile, color and scent is also very effective whenever walleye have a hard time seeing the bait, i.e. Muddy water after rain or snow for example These same characteristics that make the new plastics so good in tough conditions make these baits excel at triggering fish when the fish are active and the bite is on. I started using Power Bait a few years ago and fell in love with this particular product. The standard three-inch power grub is my go to bait.

The tail is supple enough to move at just about any speed. The action of Power Bait is the best of any of the plastics I have used, being even better than Gulp. What I do with Power Bait however is actually tip with Gulp (two or three inch Gulp Minnow). Instead of tipping this standard presentation (a jig head and twister tail) with bait, I have much better success using the Gulp as the meat. The Gulp actually seems to taste better to the fish and stays of for several consecutive casts, staying on much better than any live bait. This combination is the most lethal combination I have ever seen for pitching up into shallow water to catch walleye on rivers. I have the complete package with shape, profile, smell and action that stays on the hook the whole morning. Now when you consider that the only thing I have to do to keep my Gulp alive is to seal the package it came in, it can become an easy choice to leave the minnows behind. There is also Gulp in different shapes besides the standard Minnow that I like but just remember that the bait will dry out on the hook so replace if the bait has been out of the water for a little while. Drying out will often affect the action of the twister tail baits. Keep the Gulp in the water or reseal the bait in the bag if you want to catch fish with this stuff.

Sheldon Medinger Puts nice walleye in the net As described above, this combination works great when we are pitching the sandbars on the Missouri River near my home in Bismarck North Dakota but you donít have to pitch either. This lethal plastic combo works well vertical jigging as well when you are finding fish in deeper waterIf you are targeting weeds, reeds or timber, this option is usually much more productive than live bait as well. We have done good using these plastics on walleyes in just about every fishery we stop at when fishing the Professional Walleye Trail.

The same recipe catches walleye all over. My experiences with these plastics have been on jigs but anglers are also using these products on spinner and crawler harnesses with amazing results, especially the Gulp. By the way, this success isnít just happening up in some fly in lake on the Canadian Shield where walleye are suicidal either. Anglers are catching walleye with plastics just about everywhere and that just might mean the lake or river you fish down the road. Dumb fish, smart fish, it just doesnít matter. Anglers all over are discovering that you just donít need bait for many traditional jigging applications. May your bait well never stink again with rotting bait. Good luck on the water.

Editors Note: The author, Sheldon Meidinger has been a familiar face on the Professional Walleye Trail for several years. This Yar-Craft pro broke out of the gate at a young age and already boasts several accomplishments. 2004 PWT Cleveland Ohio, fifth; 2003 PWT Sportsman of the Year, 2002 PWT Championship qualifier; 2001 PWT Sportsman of the Year; 2000 Pro Team Walleye Championship winner; 1999 PWT Mississippi River, fourth; 1999 PWT Championship qualifier; 1999 NAWA Lake Sakakawea, second; and many other top-twenty finishes. .


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