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Looking Good
By John Kolinski
Editor's note: John Kolinski is the 2002 Professional Walleye Trail Angler of the Year, the 2004 Illinois River RCL winner and a 16-time championship qualifier on the PWT, RCL and Masters Walleye Circuit. His articles can be read in numerous Midwestern outdoor publications and at several web sites. Kolinski is sponsored by Triton Boats, Mercury Motors, Lowrance Electronics, Yo-Zuri fishing line, Normark/Storm Lures, MinnKota, Lindy Legendary Tackle, Tempress Rod Holders, Off-Shore Planer Boards, Optima Batteries, Panther Marine and Headlight Lures

Beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder.
However, one thing we can all agree upon is that there are few things more alluring than a 30-inch walleye coming to the net. As anglers, we have an interpretation of a "perfect 10" that is all our own. We also have more tactics to make that beautiful moment happen than ever, and if you spend enough time on the water, you will see some combinations and concoctions being employed today that will raise at least one eyebrow. It's ingenuity at its best, and it's one reason today's anglers are catching more and bigger fish than ever. While techniques mastered by our sport's forefathers are still as good as walleye gold, inquiring minds have taken those traditional methods and revised them to meet almost any need. Some of this revolution is driven by necessity. Anglers are better-educated and better-equipped than ever. That means more people catching more fish. There is more competition for those fish, which also happen to be better-educated because of the additional pressure they experience today. Manufacturers are always on the cutting edge.  Who would have guessed 20 years ago that MinnKota would develop its line of Engine Mount electric trolling motors that mounts to the shaft of an outboard to provide the ultimate in stealth? Instead of running the Mercury kicker on my Triton 215X in shallow water and sending planer boards out hundreds of feet, I can now prowl the shallows in relative quiet and keep my boards closer to the boat where there is less margin for error. Who could have foreseen the complex technology Lowrance is now able to offer in many of its sonar and GPS units. The 111HD, for example, is a combination GPS and sonar unit with incredible detail and a broad range of detailed maps already on the unit's hard drive. It's a far cry from the old "Green Box." As for the anglers themselves, a few years ago, it was common knowledge that you couldn't catch walleyes on crankbaits or nightcrawlers in cold water. Now we do it regularly. Bottom bouncers used to be the tool of choice for fishing deep water and steep contour. Now we have in-line weights and snap weights. The old "book" said you couldn't troll spinner rigs at 2 mph, and you couldn't mix cranks and spinners in the same trolling spread.

John holds a nice river walleye That book has been shelved as today's anglers write new chapter after new chapter. Some are willing to try almost anything, and they are discovering ways to catch walleyes previous anglers never considered. Who's to say what will work and what won't work without any first-hand knowledge or experience? It's all about keeping an open mind.
Many of today's top tricks are based on the philosophy that more is better. Give the fish a variety of things to consider and the likelihood that they will see something they like increases

Double spinner rigs are catching on, especially for open-water fish that rely more on sight and sound than scent to feed. The idea is to give them a bigger target with more flash that they can see from a considerable distance in clear water environments. Double spinners even give the illusion of multiple baitfish in the water. Crankbait-spinner combinations are catching on, too, in open-water situations. The crankbait serves as an attractor with its wobble and flash while the spinner rig offers an entirely different look.  You can run these rigs one of two ways, depending on state laws regarding the number of lures that can be used on one line. In states where multiple lures are legal, use a three-way swivel and attach a deep-diving crankbait like a Storm Hot 'n Tot to a three-foot lead with a spinner rig trailing from the other eye of the three-way. In states where only one lure may be used per rod, take the hooks off the crankbait and tie it in-line with the spinner tied to the rear eyelet of the crankbait. Some anglers, mostly on river systems, have discovered the value of running two stickbaits in-line. Floating Rapalas and shallow running Storm Thundersticks are good choices. Tie one to your line as you would normally, then run a three-foot lead off the back eye of the Rapala to another. The setup takes most of the action out of the lead Rapala, but that's often the one neutral or cold-water walleyes hit. Jig-and-crankbait or jig-and-spinner combinations are another effective option. River anglers and structure fishermen both like this presentation. Use a heavy Lindy Jumbo Jig tipped with big plastic or live bait as a dropper and trail it with a Floating Rapala or a spinner rig. These rigs can be deadly when worked along the face of a wingdam or along the edge of a rockpile. Once you start thinking with an open mind, there is no end to the possibilities.
You can use Erie Dearies without the hooks or specifically designed fish attractors as in-line weights. You can "Dubuque rig" by running a leader with a crankbait on one end and a swivel on the other up the main line, then tying another swivel to the end of the line. A heavy jig on a short lead is added to the main-line swivel to complete the rig. You can run spinner rigs over the tops of weeds by using no weight or a small, in-line bullet weight. You can change depths in the water column quickly by employing snap weights. You can "pole line," which is a variation of hand-lining where a heavy weight keeps the main line vertical while leaders of varying length are attached at predetermined locations on the main line. In situations where anglers are limited to two rods but may use three lures, you can accomplish this goal by using a three-way rig behind an Off-Shore planer board. Let it halfway out, then attach the third line to the line coming from the rod. The only problem with that approach is that you must hand-line the extra lure into the boat before you can detach the board and attempt to land the fish, which adds to the margin for error. Give it some thought. Chances are there is something you can try that will address whatever situation you are facing on the water. Some anglers laugh at these innovations and call fishing with them "dragging junk." I just call it a thing of beauty.

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