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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
 Rattling up some Walleyes
By Perry Good

Sound travels at a rate of about one mile per second through water, which is five times faster than its speed through air.  Fish have developed extremely acute hearing, especially on low frequency sounds.
Anyone who dives below the surface assumes that the underwater world is silent simply because humans have difficulty hearing in that medium.  Science has shown that the opposite is true.  A moving school of bait fish sends out sound waves.  The noise of a tackle box scraped along the deck of a boat is echoed through the water.  Footsteps along the bank send vibration into the water.  Some fish can hear the sound made by a worm wriggling into the bottom.  Fish have become adept at detecting and reacting to these various sounds that signal food or danger.
Humans and other mammals respond to sound also.  Behavior scientist have demonstrated that dogs and other mammals respond to a bell or light prior to eating and begin salivating before the food arrives.  Humans respond to a siren or a horn that is honked, because we associate those sounds with danger and caution.
When a fish is injured or its normal swimming impaired, it gives off distress vibrations.  These are totally different sounds than those of a healthy creature or one swimming unencumbered.  Predators recognize distress vibrations and hone in on them from considerable distances with a purpose.  They know that a fish in trouble is an easy meal not requiring the expenditure of much energy.  And, the predator seems to know exactly from where the sound is coming even though it is far away.  There is also some evidence that chemical factors may be involved and help predators locate injured prey.
 This is why tackle manufacturers like Northland Tackle, and Normark have put rattles in many of their lures.  For example, one of the hottest lures is the Northland Buck-Shot jig.  The Buck-Shot  jig is like any other jig only it has a modification.  The jig is still a live bait delivery system that can be enhanced by live bait such as nightcrawles, leeches or a minnow, but it's modification is that it has a rattle chamber that emits a vibration to attract and trigger fish to strike.  The same thing holds true for the Rattlin Jungle Jig, which is dynamite on those finicky bass that hide back in the shadows.  Not only does the bass hear the initial splash, but it rattles so the fish can find that prey that has just fallen into the dark timber laden, weed choke environment.  Normark has done the same for years with it's Rattlin Rapala the lures of choice and Fat Rap.  The sound is what attracts the fish to keep them coming on an attack path straight towards the lure.  Sound is another sense that the fish use to locate and identify food.  Water conditions and specie of fish will determine what sounds you should try to imitate.  If you are fishing for Bass or Northern Pike a noisy lure is the answer.  Likewise, if you are fishing in stained water then you want the walleye to be able to hear your bait.  Rattling Rapalas are a good example of a noisy bait that will take a variety of fish under these conditions.  If you are fishing in a clear lake quiet baits that produce wobble and vibration are what you want to use.
 Besides rattle, wobble and vibration don't overlook color.  Try to match bait already found in the environment.  Use flash tape to highlight crankbaits to give that extra flash.  Along with flash, you might want to change to a dramatic color.  Chartreuse and the new Firetiger colors aren't part of the environment but in stained water they are  a visible target for fish.  The type of terrain that you are fishing will determine color also.  If you are fishing over sand maybe crawfish color, or next to a weed bed or drop off, a perch color will trigger fish.
 Feeding within a lake, stream, or other body of water often becomes a chain reaction.  Fish hear the sounds of other fish feeding and often begin to look for food themselves.  The sounds of a tail thumping and splashing can have a positive effect on many fish at the same time.
 In essence, the fish are attracted to the rattling noise and like other animals they are inquisitive and interested in what is going on.  This is essential because once you have their attention catching is made easier.

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