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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs


 Swift water Walleye techniques
By Randy Tyler

Recently while fishing the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail tournament in Trenton Michigan I had the opportunity to revisit a technique I had first done with J.R. Mazure two years earlier on the flooded Mississippi river out of Dubuque Iowa.  The Technique is called hand-lining or sometimes wire-lining or chugging .I would like to take a few moments and discuss this technique, with also a couple of unique twists.  Hand-lining is an age old technique that was originally done with old Victrola boxes that had a spring loaded mechanism used to hand wind the Victrola to keep the table turning.  In the old days these were converted over to a basic spring loaded reel device that would automatically reel the wire back up to keep from getting tangled something similar to an electric light cord reel in theory.  The devices used nowadays are manufactured by a couple of sources which I will give phone numbers at the end of this article.  These devices are only meant to be take-up reels they are not strong enough just to reel the line, lures and weights back in to the reel and need to be hand fed in.  The reels are spooled with preferably a nylon coated wire line 60 to 90 LB test in strength.  The end of the wire line is tied to a trolling shank which can be purchased from three to 9 feet long.  This Trolling shank is nothing but a heavier lead wire with clevises attached every 6 to 18” with a bead on the top and bottom of every clevise. And a heavy barrel swivel at each end.  This allows you to set the height of the rigs and lines you are running at different heights to keep them off of the bottom.  To the very bottom of the trolling shank you attach a large pencil weight anywhere from 6 ounces to 4 lbs. depending on the current and depth needed.  The optimum angle the wire-line should be running from the side of the boat is no more than a 45 degree similar to the technique and angle used when using a bottom bouncer.  Next you need to make up 20, 40 and sixty-foot leaders preferably out of minimum 16 to 20 test line.  The reason for the heavy line is to fold one you will not be having the load take off of the line because there is no reel involved and 2 when letting line out and bringing it back in heavy line coils easily on the floor of the boat.  These are to be rigged with a snap swivel on one end and snap on the other end then rolled onto to foam rollers and marked with the proper length on the side. We will not be attaching these to the shank until we are ready to drop them in the water but keep in mind the shorter one will be attached to the lowest clevise on the shank approximately 12 inches from the top of the pencil weight with the longer one to be attached one to two clevises higher up. The types of crank-baits we will want to be using range from jerk-baits, shallow diving crank-baits, pencil plugs. Rapalas, Thundersticks and Reef Runners.  Do not use any deep diving cranks but floaters are good also. Trolling spinner rigs is also a possibility.  Now its time to go fish 

When wire lining a few things need to be kept in mind.
1. Everything needs to be organized properly in the boat., put everything away that is not needed.
2. All leads need to be tied up prior and organized on foam rollers in 20, 40 and sixty foot lengths and marked in magic marker on the side what length they are
3. When two people are in the boat it is best that when one gets a fish on the other reels his or her line in at-least to the sinker so that the two do not get tangled
4. It is best to wear leather gloves of some type to avoid getting cut with the wire line.even though it is plastic coated
5. It is now time to go fishing once we have the trolling motor up and running and have got it on track we clip on one of our crank-baits to the longer leader to the end with just the snap and just start letting the line out until we come to the snap swivel we then attach this end to the clevise two to three above the bottom swivel or clevise.
6. We then do the same with the shorter leader and attach it one clevise above the bottom swivel or clevise
7. We then attach the pencil weight to the bottom clevise and slowly lower the weight down until we feel bottom.
8. With a short four to six inch movement we then slowly raise and lower the weight only until we hit bottom.
9. As with jigging, bottom bouncing or any other method it is good to adjust speed and stroke intermittently until you find an action that will cause a strike.
10. Once a fish is felt, do not set the hook just keep a slow steady hand over hand retrieve always keeping tension on the fish and slowly feeding the wire line back into the reel.  You Will first come to the shank it now time to determine which line the fish is on long or short once this is determined you need to keep pressure on that line and first reel up enough to get the weight in the boat, while still slowly bringing the fish in hand over hand coiling the line in the bottom of the boat so as not to get tangled once the fish is at the side of the boat net him.
11. VERY IMPORTANT you need to have either a small 8” long pipe or a cleat attached to the boat if at any time you get hung up wrap the wire line around the pipe or cleat so that you can use that force to unsnag yourself if you try to do it with the wire in your hands you will not have any fingers to use to fillet the fish at the end of the day.
Another variation on this method but sometimes just as effective and without the need to have any special wire return reels would be as follows.  Rig up a heavy action rod with a good baitcast or trolling reel spooled with 50# Test Berkley fireline but at the end of the fireline tie on the trolling shank and use the same system as above. 

For Information on Purchasing the above hand line reels contact A+S Reels, 313-671-6783, Kachman Reels 810-689-9000 or  Riviera Downriggers.

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