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Walleyes on Blades
By Jason Mitchell
There seems to be a general assumption that the location and mood of
fish should always determine the presentation when fishing for walleye.
Another often overlooked factor that should determine which presentation
use is the skill level and experience of the people who are in the
you. If you are taking a group of people who can barely cast, tossing
Rapalas against the shoreline might not be an option. If your guests
know what the bottom "feels like," vertical jigging over forty feet
might become frustrating for both you and your company.
I have had anglers of various skill levels in my boat. I have
hard way about trying to force a technique on a fisherman who wasn't
familiar or comfortable with the technique being used. Giving a five
old kid a spinning rod with a eighth ounce jig and telling him to drop
jig until it hit the bottom, twenty feet below, was a mistake on my
Giving a guy who seldom fishes, a bait casting rod and telling the
"just cast this shad rap into those openings in the weed bed" was also
mistake. Fortunately, there are ways to catch walleyes that don't require
much "know how" on the part of my guests. If you want to get out fished
your four year old son or lose a bet to your father-in-law who has
fished a day in his life, start handing out rods rigged up with bottom
bouncers and spinner rigs.
I have never had a person in my boat who couldn't get the hang of using
bottom bouncer and spinner rig. Bottom bouncers and spinner rigs are
amazingly simple to use but incredibly effective. Bottom bouncers are
really good bet whenever fish are spread out and riding a foot to four
off the bottom. Bottom bouncers can also be adapted, however, to cover
wider variety of situations. The fish often hook themselves and the
the rod holder will often catch more fish than the rod you are holding.
believe bottom bouncers and spinners are one of the hottest presentations
going when I have people in my boat who aren't necessarily avid fisherman.
With bottom bouncers and spinners, I know everyone is fishing on the
and everyone's bait is where it needs to be. Just let out line until
bottom bouncer thumps the bottom and let out a little more line until
line is at about a 45 degree angle. The rod tip will bounce as the
bouncer walks across the bottom and when a walleye takes the bait,
will be weight on the rod and the rod will bend. No need to fall out
chair to set the hook, the fish usually hook themselves. Just lift
to bury the hooks and keep the rod up when you reel.
The trick to hooking walleyes with this presentation is just letting
tip bend from the weight of the fish before trying to set the hook.
seems like the weight of the bottom bouncer will often drag the hooks
the mouth of the fish until a hook catches somewhere. Once the hooks
somewhere in the fish's mouth, the bottom bouncer will start to lift
bottom as the rod bends. After the bottom bouncer lifts off the bottom,
get better contact with the fish when you do set the hook. This is
rod holders often catch more fish than I do when I am using bottom
It is easy to jump the gun and try to hook the fish too early when
the initial thump. Let the rod tip bend from the weight of the fish.
is much debate over snell length, color and blade style and size. As
general rule, the longer the snell, the higher the bait will ride.
are fishing bottom bouncers below the boat, however, it becomes harder
hook the fish when you use a snell longer than the length of your rod.
four to six foot snell is kind of the norm while shorter snells sometimes
work better when fish are tucking to the bottom.
If you need your bait to ride higher in the water, use a spinner with
float. Watch your spinner blade next to the boat and adjust your boat
so your blades kick enough. As you speed up, your spinner will lift
bottom to a certain point. As far as blade styles, an Indiana blade
probably the most common blade on many spinner rigs. Indiana blades
fished at a wide range of speeds and are a good all around choice.
blades will start to twist your line if you try to speed up and willow
blades need to move along fairly fast in order to turn. As far as color
concerned, we all have our favorites and color is probably more important
us, than the fish. Sure, there are days when one color seems to work
but I believe many fisherman jump to conclusions without experimenting
If someone in the front of your boat is using a chartreuse spinner
caught ten walleyes and your using an orange spinner and have caught
walleyes, chances are, the guy in the front of the boat is sitting
eight feet of water while your fishing in ten feet of water. Or maybe
are fishing right below the boat while your partner is letting out
and getting away from the boat. Color can seem to be important at times
is probably the least important element to a spinner when looking at
picture. If you fish all day and don't catch anything, it wasn't because
were using the wrong color. It was because you weren't putting your
lure in front of enough fish. I don't believe in the "big blade equals
From what I've seen, fishing on Lake Sakakawea, big blades work when
getting is good and small blades or plain snells work best when the
gets tough. One important thing to keep in mind is the bigger the blade,
heavier the line that should be used for the snell. Line twist will
many more fish than using the wrong color. People often buy spinners
on how attractive they appear to us. The blades with the cool air brushed
patterns sell. If you don't tie your own spinners, make sure the spinners
you use are tied with a good monofilament line. Also make sure the
components are high quality and the whole rig is balanced. Some rigs
too big of blades for the clevice and beads. Other rigs are tied with
that is too thin in diameter. If the spinner rig isn't balanced right,
line will twist and your bait will spin. The only thing you want to
a spinner rig is the blade and clevice. Test the hooks by rubbing the
along the back of your hand. Good hooks will stick to your skin. I
tie all of my own spinners but I don't have the time that I use to.
I've been using some spinners that I ordered from Cabela's and I have
complaints. The Quest Championship Walleye Spinners, in particular,
nice through the water and are tied with good line, components and
Taking spinner rig balance a step further, make sure the bait is centered
the hook so the bait doesn't spin. Sometimes if the crawler or minnow
hooked off center in the nose, the bait won't trail behind the spinner
right. Leeches are the hardest bait to get to run behind a spinner
spinning. I sometimes step on the leech to kill it and then hook it
the narrow end. Crawlers are probably the fastest bait you can run
leeches need to be run a little slower.
Bottom bouncers and spinners can be run at a variety of depths and
As long as you are moving fast enough to keep the bottom bouncer standing
and moving slow enough to keep your line and bait from twisting, there
wrong or right until you catch fish. Changes in speed often trigger
however. When drifting, the waves will often rock the boat causing
spinner to surge forward and than stall. If there are no waves, a trick
sometimes works for me is to stand up in my boat and "rock" the boat
feet to get the bottom bouncers to lift up and down. Whatever your
level, bottom bouncers and spinners can be a valuable tool for catching
walleye. Few presentations are as efficient and easy to use at such
variety of speeds and depths. Make sure the components are high quality
the whole rig is balanced.
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