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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
Waking the Dead rod 
by Rick Olson

When walleye anglers are allowed to fish with more than one rod, they are given the opportunity todouble, and maybe even triple, their chances for catching fish; Sometimes. Can you double you’re odds when pitching a jig to shallow rocky points? Do you cast one, drop the rod, pick up and cast another? Or how about when you’re dragging a bouncer and spinner through an area that is so snag infested, that it requires all of your attention, just to keep from hanging up? The answer is no, and yes; No, if you try to duplicate exactly what you’re doing Yes, if you employ a technique that utilizes a specialized set up called the dead rod. 

The dead rod can be a real key to upping you’re odds, and may even prove to be the most productive method in use. A dead rod, that’s set up correctly, can get an extra bait in the water, and keep it in fron of walleyes that are hanging tough and playing hard to get. There’s an old school of thought that if you keep a bait in front of a fish long enough, it may eventually give in and take what‘s being offered. A dead rod set up is designed to do just that, and may be exactly what ol’ marble eyes is looking for. On the other hand it may mean nothing more than an extra fish or two at the end of the day, but what’s wrong with that? 
Rick Olson proves once again that dead rods can produce good quality walleyes

Rick Olson prepares to 
release a "Dead rod Walleye"
The technique is most often used in combination with a casting or trolling presentation, and becomes secondary to what you’re already using. The primary technique may be so effective that you don’t have time to even monkey with anything else. Those times are rare, however, and more often than you not you’ll be  faced with trying to scratch out one fish here and one there, and is where the dead rod can pay big dividends.  Another advantage of a dead rod is the fact that it tends to find bigger fish, especially if you keep the rig  working in deeper water. In a casting situation, for example, the boat is usually held in deeper water while casting to shallower structure. Although that may be the key to catching numbers of fish, the larger  of the species are often caught just a little deeper, and are missed by most anglers.

By keeping a bait in that deeper zone, you can increase your odds of nailing a monster, and may prove to be well worth the extra effort required in maintaining a dead rod. To put together a winning presentation, a couple of things need to be considered, like what type of bottom your dealing with, and how deep your actually fishing. Absent the presence of rocks and timber, you might be able to get by with a live bait rig, or a jig. A live bait rig with a long snell is probably the better choice, as it may buy you some extra time, allowing the fish to completely take a bait before he figures out what’s going on and rejects it. Lighter sinkers and longer snells make for a finesse presentation, and finesse is exactly what you’re looking for in a dead rod rig. Longer rods in the seven to eight foot range with soft actions are also in order, and can keep fish holding on longer. The dead rod isn’t going to get all that much attention most of the time, and will get little more than an occasional glance to see if it is loading up. Even if you see nothing more than a little extra bend in the rod you better play it like a fish. Many times a walleye will pickup a bait and simply hold on, while they get drug along for a ride. If you see the rod starting to bend over, forget about letting the fish run with the bait, and simply set the hook. By the time you recognize the fact that a fish has taken the bait, who knows how long he’s been holding on, and dropping the bait will probably result in more missed fish. More often than not the fish will actually hook themselves, and all that’s left to do is to reel them in. Snag filled bottoms are nearly impossible to work with standard gear, like live bait rigs and jigs, and are probably more effectively fished with a bottom bouncer and plain snell set up. The key is to try and keep the bait directly below the boat, allowing the bouncer to run straight up and down. Lighter bouncers in the 1/2 to 3/4 oz. range should get the job done, and still afford an element of finesse. A long snell in the six to eight foot range, tied to a plain hook, makes for a deadly combination. Another option is replacing the plain hook with a floating jig head, which can help give the bait some lift and keep it off the bottom and out of the snags. Dealing with a few snags is part of the program, and something you better be prepared for. To help overcome part of the problem, try using a snell that is lighter in weight than your main line. For example, your reel might be loaded with ten or twelve pound test, and your snells could be made from eight or even six pound test. Most of the time it’s the hook that will hang up, and a lighter snell will break first, allowing you to at least get your bouncer back. The dead rod isn’t always going to be in the right place at the right time, especially if you’re working quick breaking structure, but not to worry. Just getting a bait close may be all you need to trigger a response from another fish or two, or three, or four. It all adds up, and can make the difference between a good trip, and a truly exceptional one. 

Rick Olson

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