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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
 Bottom Bouncers As Easy As 1,2,3
By Rick Olson

More and more anglers are finding out just how effective bottom bouncing can be. Initial reactions may include questioning why a finicky walleye would even come close to something as clunky as a bouncer,  but don’t let that bother you, as the walleyes sure don’t seem to mind. In fact, the big clunky, hunk of  burning love, may even act as an attractor. Painted models have been to known to acquire teeth marks, which are the direct result of a savage walleye attack. It may also explain a few of the missed fish, that occasionally happens. 
Norb Wallock nets a bootm bouncer walleye for Rick Olson
Norb Wallock nets a fine walleye caught by Rick Olson while bottom bouncing with the techniques mentioned in this article.
A spinner and bouncer combination is one of the most versatile weapons in an walleye angler’s arsenal, and has proven to be effective in natural lakes, rivers, and even the Great Lakes. The thing they do best is keep a bait in the “zone”, which is that area close to the bottom. Walleyes aren’t always hanging on or near the bottom, but when they are, bouncers can definitely be the ticket. Although bottom bouncers constitute a simple presentation, there are some considerations that need to be addressed, if you’re to be successful. Considerations like bouncer size and snell length, are a couple of the areas that require some thought and attention. The most common use for a bouncer is to pair it up with a spinner and live bait combination. Although spinner length can vary, three feet would cover most applications. If you go any longer, the spinner will end up dragging and you’ll be snagging up. . 
If you’re trying to work through the toughest walleye hangouts, you may want to go even shorter, which can help reduce the amount of time spent stuck in the junk.  Packaged spinners come pre-tied with specific length snells, and can greatly reduce your ability to adjust. The Wired Spinner from Pro Tackle of Aberdeen South Dakota (1-605-216-1203), is a new twist on an old idea, and is built with a blade that rotates on a unique wire shaft. It comes without a snell, and users actually tie in their own, allowing for greater flexibility. Also, spinners rotating in the same place weaken the line, and manufacturers are forced to use heavier pound test to overcome the problem. With the Wired Spinner, you can lighten up your leader, which may come in handy when you do get hung up.By keeping your leader line lighter than that from your reel to the bouncer, you can simply break off the spinner, instead of losing the whole works, when you get seriously snagged. 
Most of the time you’ll get your bouncer back, and most of your snell, which allows you to quickly tie on a new spinner and get back in the water 
Deciding what size bouncer to use for a given situation is rather simple: Use one ounce to ten feet, two to twenty, and three for anything beyond. Another factor that will help you duplicate a productive spinner speed is to keep the angle of your line at no more than a forty-five degree angleA mistake that most first time bouncers make is letting out too much line, which will result in more snags, more frustration, and worst of all; No fish. 
Photo Courtesy of Lindy Little Joe
Typical Bottom

Bait casting equipment is the way to go, when pulling bouncer and spinner combinations. Medium action rods in the six and a half foot range, cover most applications. Reels with a flippin’ feature are preferred, as they allow you to let out more line with one hand, which can be a big advantage when you’re working with two rods. When things get a little tough and a spinner presentation is getting passed up, you may have to scale down, and slow down, to keep catching fish. Tough times call for light bite tactics, like live bait rigging.  But instead of the usual walking type sinker that is prone to snagging up, you’re better off by using an ultra-light bouncer with a plain hook and a long snell. Bouncers in the 3/4 oz. range are the way to go, along witha snell of five or six feet in length, or more. The extra long snell will give your bait some room to roam, and buy you some extra time, after a strike. 
Live bait options include minnows, leeches, and crawlers. To get the most out of a minnow, try hooking it just under the dorsal fin. This method will allow the minnow to kick and swim for all it’s worth, and can drive walleyes nuts. Leeches work best when hooked through the sucker, which leaves them free to swim up and off the bottom, but requires a dead slow trolling speed. Crawlers can be hooked one of three ways, and includes once through the tip, through the middle (creating a double trailer), and using half of a crawler thread completely onto the hook. The half crawler technique can be particularly effective when dealing withwalleyes showing a little reluctance to take the standard fare. Maybe it’s the size, or maybe it’s the scent it creates; Who really knows, or even cares? The thing is, sometimes less is more.
Bouncer choices include the fixed arm variety, as well as sliding models. Fixed arm bouncers are usually your best bet, but the sliding models can come in handy when using extra big minnows, as you may have to let the fish run to ensure better hooking percentages. The down side is the fact that you run the risk of hanging up your bouncer by letting it fall on it’s side. An option is using the fixed arm model, and waiting out short striking fish. After the strike, try to patient and wait a bit before setting the hook, as there are times when a little resistance may even tease a fish into completely taking the bait.  Good rigging rods run a little longer, let’s say the seven to eight foot range, with lighter tips. A longer, lighter tip, is more forgiving, and will keep an undetected fish holding on much longer. 
The next time you get to the water and are trying to decide on just what to do, you might think about giving bouncers a try. Once you do, you just might surprise yourself, and you’ll then find more and moreplaces to put them to work.

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