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Walleyes on Blades
By Jason Mitchell

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

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