Walleyes Inc. Your one stop internet fishing resourceDaiichi Hooks Try the Bleeding Bait series for the best hooks on the marketLindy Little Joe Fishing TacklePanther Marine ProductsDual Pro Charging Systems the Chargers the Pro's UseRAM MOunting Systems the Ultimate in Electronic Mounting systemsBait Rigs TackleRanger Boats Still buidTrojan Batteries Simply the strongest battery on the marketThe only underwear you need for extreme cold weatherBedfors Sales Illinois # 1 Ranger Boat DealerDaiwa Fishing ReelsDrift Control The Best Drift Sock AvailableWe Didnt Invent Planer Boards we just made them easier and better to useWalleyes Inc. Your one Stop Internet fishing ResourceWalleyes Inc. Your one Stop Internet fishing Resource


Walleye In-Sider save 58% click here

Bass & Walleye Boats Magazine Save 64%  Click here

Cranking For Walleye T Shirt
Check out our T-shirt Line Now in colors and long sleeves
  Walleyes Inc. Pro Team Team Favorites Lodging, food,tackle, equipment and more
 ? Home
 ? Pro Page
 ? Pro's Pointers
 ? Tournaments
 ? Fishing Reports
 ? Fishing Articles
 ? Fishing Clubs
 ? Fishing Links
 ? Resort Links
 ? Guide Links
 ? Press Releases


 ? Walleyes Inc. Store
 ? New Products
 ? Product Links
 ? Boats For Sale
 ? Classifieds
 ? Contact Us

Survivior Livewell Intake System on the Run
Survivor Livewell
Intake System on 
"The Run" 

Click Here For 

More Information

Walleyes Inc quick Change Spinner Pack Special only $5.95
Walleyes Inc. 6 
Pack Spinner 
Pack Special
Only $5.95
Click Here

Lowrance Instructional DVD

Click here for Bruce Samson's Great New Instructionsal Interactive DVD

Pathfinder Scent Dispensing Crankbait Kit

Click here to See New Scent dispensing Crankbaits

Quick Scent Bait Stick
The Ultimate Bait Scent
Click here for more information

Welcome to Walleyes Inc.com Click Here to Check Out Our On-Line Tackle Store

How to Tie Crawler Harnesses
by Mike Giamportone

If you like to save money (who doesn't?) while increasing your odds at catching more walleye (who wouldn't?), tying your own crawler harnesses is something you probably should be doing. It's not hard or expensive, and does not take much time. A homemade harness can be assembled in less than two minutes for under 50 cents! Many fishermen and women find it enjoyable creating their own custom, very productive rigs, that could not be bought anywhere at any price. This article will explain how to tie crawler harnesses, discuss the different types of components as well as where to buy them, and how or why you might customize your rigs to improve your walleye fishing. After reading this you are going to ask yourself "Why haven't I done this before?" If you do tie your own rigs, this article may give you some time or money saving tips.

Even though called crawler harnesses, worms are not the only bait used on these rigs. Natural minnows, leeches, as well as plastic baits of all kinds can be productive when presented with crawler harnesses. These rigs require very few components that you may already have in your tackle box. Some line, a hook or two, beads, a spinner blade, and a clevis is all it takes. 

Begin by gathering the necessary components. If not exact, similar components will serve to teach the basic steps. The following can be picked up from most tackle shops or purchased from any fishing catalog: 

Some 12 to 30-lb. monofilament line 
A long shank or live bait hook 
Six each - 6mm Beads
A Spinner Blade 
A Size #2 to #4 Folded (spinner blade) Clevis 
Find some space on a table or workbench where you can be comfortable. Sit if you like. As far as tools all that is really needed is nail clippers or scissors to cut the line. Turn on the radio or your favorite walleye fishing show since total concentration will not be required. Set out within your reach the components listed above. Cut about a 5-foot piece of line. You will not be able to tie a hook the way explained here with one end of the line still connected to a spool. 

Hold the hook in one hand with the eyelet towards your other hand. Without letting go of the hook, thread one to two inches of line up through the eye and pinch the line firmly against the hook's shank. Remain holding the line and hook this way (closer to the hook point than eyelet). 

With your free hand grab the loose line close the eye. Start wrapping the line around the shank as close as you can with each successive wrap going away from the eye towards the hook point. Wrap the line six to eight times while keeping tension on the previous wrap. Then with a free finger from the hand holding the hook, press on the knot just enough so it does not come unraveled. 

Thread the line through the eye opposite the way it came from, i.e.: If you began your knot by threading the line UP through the eye, finish by threading the line DOWN through the eye. Pull the line tight while not allowing the knot to loosen. If needed, slide the knot towards the eye. That's it, you have a perfectly tied hook! 

Depending on the eyelet of the hook used, you may have difficulty getting the line to wrap around the shank at first. Don't worry that's normal until you do it a few times. Then it becomes second nature. Here are a few different methods you might try if the line won't wrap. Pull the line a little tighter while wrapping. Try exaggerating the first wrap by pulling it halfway down the shank and fairly taut for the first wrap. Another technique is to press a free finger on the end of the eye while tying the first wrap. 

If your hook's knot does not look proper or to your liking, take it apart and practice as many times as you like. Cut the line about 1/2" above the hook and reuse the untwisted line over and over until you are satisfied. The knot is untied by pulling the line back through the eye and unwinding until free. 

Slip 5 beads down the line towards the hook. Place the clevis through the hole in the spinner blade with both clevis holes on the cupped (concave) side of the blade. Thread the line up through both clevis holes. The cupped side of the blade must be towards line and hole in blade should be at the top away from hook. Always fasten a blade with a clevis. Without a clevis the spinning blade will cut your line.

Add the last bead above the spinner blade for some additional sound attraction. Double over the last 2 inches of your line and tie it with an overhand knot to create a loop. Try to make a loop about 1/2" to 1" in diameter and pull knot tight. Trim the excess line from the loop and hook. Leave approximately 1/4" of line past the knots so they can tighten as needed without failing. 

Multiple Hooks:
So fisherman can use a whole worm, many crawler harnesses use multiple hooks. You probably think that making harnesses with multiple hooks must be a whole lot harder. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Adding additional hooks is just as easy as the first. Tie the first hook as usual. Slide the second hook down and space it exactly where you want it. Be sure the hook is orientated the same way as the first hook. Pinch the line and shank of the additional hook just as you did with the first. Wrap the free line around the shank near the eye. This time thread the line through the eye the same way it came from (should be the bottom). Viola' a harness with a second hook. 

Additional hooks could be added in the same way. Second and third hooks are very popular with shorter shank hooks like "walleye" or "octopus" hooks but more than one hook is not recommended for long shank hooks like Aberdeen. 

Barrel Swivels:
The weakest part of your crawler harness will be line in the overhand knot loop you tied to finish your rig. Imagine if you connect the loop directly to a snap clevis, the entire force will be pulled in one small spot of the line. 

Adding a barrel swivel here will do two things for you. Instead of focusing all the force in one small part of the line, it spreads the force to at least two spots. 

Barrel swivels will also protect the harness from damage. When retrieving your line too quickly, harnesses tend to twist, causing the line to coil and ruining the harness. Even bottom bouncers that have snap swivels allow this to occur too frequently. A barrel swivel on the end of a crawler harness will eliminate twisting on fast retrieves. 

Attach the barrel swivel by sliding the crawler harness loop through one end of a barrel swivel up to the overhand knot. Then slip the loop over the swivel and pull it down to the bottom of the swivel to tighten. Size 10 barrel swivels are recommended. 

Multiple Blades and Number of Beads:
Four or five beads above the hook and one spinner blade is the most common setup. Beads are supposed to make rattling or a ticking noise while the spinning blades give off vibration, both to attract walleye. The number of beads can be changed to your preference. Be sure to keep the blade from getting too close to hook point and interfering with the hook set. It's OK though for the hook to bang against the shank of the hook. A bead above the spinner blade again is a matter of choice. If desired, a second spinning blade can be added for increased vibration simply by adding four to five more beads above your first spinner blade. Then add the second clevis and blade before tying the overhand loop. 

Floating Crawler Harnesses:
Adding styrofoam or cork floats in place of beads reduces snags by keeping hooks from dragging on the bottom and over most timber especially at slower speeds. The trade off may be losing the inviting sound the rattling hard plastic beads give off. While ball and oval shaped floats have been the industry standard for quite sometime, new peg-style floats seem to be productive and a favorite. Peg floats come in two sizes. Use the large pegs (11/4") for most blades and the small ones (3/4") for hatchet and smaller blades. Metal-colored peg floats that match blade finishes are now available and highly recommended. If using any type of float in place of beads, add at least one small or regular bead on both sides of the float. This prevents the hook and clevis from digging into the float and ensures the blade spins freely . 

Folded or stirrup clevises have been used for many years successfully to fasten spinner blades to the line. Both are cheap but folded clevises have a little more area in contact with the line and are thought to prevent cutting more than stirrup clevises. Something relatively new on the scene is quick-change clevises. These plastic clevises allow you to rapidly change the spinner blade to whatever pattern or color you want without having to change the entire crawler harness. When quick-change clevises first came out there was the occasional difficulty throwing blades but that problem has since been addressed. Because they contact more area on your harness line and are a bit larger, it is thought quick-change clevises may increase drag and spin a bit slower. Another consideration is changing the blade does not change the color of your beads. Some people feel bead color to be less of a factor than blades in catching walleye so they use is quick-change clevises exclusively and change harnesses when bead color does require a change. 

Blade Color, Pattern, Shape, etc.: 
There is too much about spinner blades to be covered in depth here. Some basics are offered that will help you decide what to tie on and when to use them. 

Generally, the bigger the blade the slower it spins and the louder it vibrates. Loud and slow is great for stained water and big walleye. Narrow blades (like Indiana and Willow) spin easier at slow speeds and emit a higher frequency than the rounder (Colorado) blades. Spinning blades also give off a flash like fleeing baitfish. Start out with size #4 Colorado blades and experiment from there. 

Hammered finishes appear as fish scales and give off a different flash than smooth blades. Since there is an endless variety of finishes, where do you start? Try metal finishes for very clear water. Nickel, Brass, Copper, and Gold blades seem to be the most productive in clear water. For stained water something with chartreuse definitely outperforms all others. But nickel will still catch fish. Try different blades or harnesses and let the walleye tell you what they want. Don't marry one color or pattern and stick with it for too long if it is not producing. Out on the water once you find a color or blade combination catching more walleye than others, switch your other rods to similar combinations until conditions (light, water clarity, waves action, or wind) change. 

Hatchet blades are becoming more popular as fishermen put more fish in the boat and become confident in their catching ability. Their unique shape gives off yet another type of flash and vibration that works well. 
If you want to know what crawler harnesses are popular in your area, go to the local bait stores and see what they sell the most of. Ask the salesperson what they prefer to use and why. Then save yourself some money by tying your own.

Bead Type, Color, and Size:
While beads don't have the endless variety as blades do, there still is quite a selection. Size #6 plastic beads are common for many harnesses. Among the alternatives that could be utilized are glass beads. They are more expensive but louder and heavier than plastic beads. Glow in the dark beads work well at night, dusk, and dawn. Faceted beads (beads with flat spots on all sides) are said to flash more light in the water. If you don't like threading on all those small holed beads onto that fairly fine line, there are stacks of five beads sold together for you. Orange and red are supposed to be the most visible color for many fish, while chartreuse beads are popular for stained water. Again when starting out, visit the local tackle stores and see what is working for fishermen in your area before buying a big assortment of beads. 

So you made your first crawler harness. Now what do you do with it? When you buy rigs, they come in clear plastic or small zip lock bags. You can purchase the same bags from the sources that supply harness components but they are despised for the tangles that usually result when uncoiling the the harnesses. Rectangle or round crawler harness holders area available but take up considerable space and are not cheap. 

To hold a lot of harnesses in a small space, get a better view of all the different harnesses you have available, and save money, you might try homemade crawler harness storage. Visit the lumberyard or pickup scraps from construction sites of 1/2" or 3/4" thick house insulation (sheet foam). Cut the foam into manageable size pieces. Stick harness hooks in one edge of the foam and wrap the line neatly around and hold the barrel swivel in place with small nails. When you remove the nails stick them in the unused side of the foam for later use. Those cheap pool fun noodles (~3" diameter, 5' long soft foam) cut in one foot lengths also make ideal holders. 

Even though it doesn't take very long to make a crawler harnesses, if you can save 30 seconds on each one when assembling a couple dozen, it makes a difference. Here are a few things you can do to speed up the process. 

Once you find the length of harness you prefer, mark the bench or table for cutting the line the same each time. This guarantees all harnesses to be the same length and is real impressive looking at a homemade harness holder when all the nails holding the end of the rigs are in a fairly straight line. No one will believe you tied them all by hand. 

When you are proficient at making crawler harnesses and only then, you can eliminate having to trim excess line at both ends. The following suggestions make tying the knots a little tougher and should never be tried until you are proficient at making harnesses. First, try to put no more line through the eye of the hook than you need to tie over. Second, don't fold as much line over when tying the overhand loop and slide the knot within 1/4" of the end of the line as you snug the knot up. Both eliminate trimming line and saves a little time for each rig. 

Use segmented plastic storage boxes for your components to neatly hold all crawler harness components. This is almost a must. It definitely speeds assembly and helps keep track of what you may be getting low on. 

Drifting and trolling are some of the most popular methods of walleye fishing in the lower Lake Huron and the St. Clair River. While structure provides current breaks, attracts and holds walleye, it also supplies plenty of snags. Tweaking your equipment keeps lines in the water as much as possible with a minimum of lost time and tackle. You can't catch fish when your line is not in the water. 

Since tangle-free bottom bouncer (sinkers) are preferred and at a little over buck each, 24 to 30 lb. Spiderline Fusion or Fireline is spooled on my reels. Sinkers are the last tackle I want to lose. Not only am I cheap but retying snap swivels on my main line and finding another bottom bouncer definitely takes too much time from fishing. 

When I tie crawler harnesses 1/0 (one-aught) bronze Aberdeen hooks are used. They absolutely keep all lines in the water more. Releasing a snag can be almost impossible in the St. Clair River current. I have seen it done at a large expense to time and motor noise. Better yet, these Aberdeen hooks are light enough to straighten just enough to release from a snag yet strong enough not to straighten out with a big fish on. So if you get a snag, all you have to do is pull your line up, bend the tip of the hook back into shape, slap some bait on and you are back in business.

Aberdeen hooks only come with straight eyelets. Before tying I offset all the eyelets in or out like most "walleye" hooks with some pliers. This makes them sit straight once tied and sets the hook better in the corner of the mouth. 

The long shanks are preferred since they hold 1/2 to 3/4 of a crawler nicely. I have found that part of a crawler releases more scent than a whole one. In fact, slightly mangled crawlers as long as they stay on the hook work best! Threading one half of the shortened crawler on an Aberdeen hook with a little bit right over the knot holds it in a fairly straight line and keeps it there even when going through some seaweed. Just gobbing some worm on is never as productive. 

Single hook harnesses definitely snag 1/2 as much as multiple hook rigs. A note here about Aberdeen hooks. Do not purchase Brass Aberdeen hooks. They break very easy and are not recommended for crawler harnesses. While bending the eye of Aberdeen hooks, you may consider bending the hook tip to one side slightly to make the hook set deeper or at an angle in the corner of the mouth. But this has been found to cause more snags. 

Many store bought harnesses use 30-lbs test line. For homemade harnesses 17-lb. Trilene XT (extra tough) is preferred because it resists abrasion yet will break before the main line going to the bottom bouncer will. I am willing to sacrifice any one of my crawler harnesses on a snag in the few cases the hook does not straighten and release before losing a bottom bouncer. Again this keeps the lines in the water more and saves money. 

Harness length can be experimented with. In very clear water and sunny days, long (6 to 20 feet) harnesses can be a little more productive when the boat is moving slowly. But when the current or boat moves faster, or in stained water, the longer leads are not usually worth the trouble. Just let out more main line to get the bait away from the boat. I do not think bottom bouncers spook the fish so I now make all my harnesses 48" long (finished length). This not only makes storing harnesses easier, but also allows harnesses to remain on the rods when moving the boat in or out of the water.

As you can see there is a pecking order for snags. Bend hook first, break crawler harness line next, and if you monitor the condition of your main line you will never break it and lose a bottom bouncer. If you seem to be getting a lot of snags, there are a few other things you can do to prevent them. Speed up your boat. Try trolling or drifting a little faster. Drift bags (a.k.a. sea anchors) can speed a boat up when the wind is blowing against the current. Use two drift bags if necessary. Use floats on your crawler harnesses to keep the hook up off the river floor. As you let line out, do it slowly. Keep your rig swimming so your harness does not just fall to the bottom and immediately snag. When you do get a snag, don't hold on for your life and break something. First try to release your line quickly until fully limp. Then reel in. Many times this will release the hook or blade from the snag. Be sure to check the condition of your harness, hook sharpness, and re-bait if necessary. 

You should try any technique that saves you money while increasing your odds at limiting out your favorite fish. Tying your own crawler harnesses is definitely one of those techniques. Adding custom crawler harnesses to your arsenal can make the difference between a good day and a bad day on the water

The finished Product
The Finished Product

Computer videos showing tying crawler harnesses can be viewed or downloaded at http://dns.advnet.net/mkg/ or http://www.geocities.com/giamportonem/index.htm

The author can be reached at walleyefishingmike@hotmail.com with any questions you may have about crawler harness construction or walleye fishing the upper St. Clair River. 

For a wide selection and inexpensive crawler harness components, request catalogs from the following companies: 


www.staminainc.com Large selection and quantity price breaks on lure components. 


www.jannsnetcraft.com Large selection and quantity price breaks on components. A lot of fly tying, net making, including hatchet/tomahawk style blades. 
Northland Tackle


www.northlandtackle.com Bi-colored and metal colored peg-floats, other components, and even fishing tips. 
Lindy Little Joe


www.lindylittlejoe.com Hatchet blades, No-Snagg® Sinkers, other components. 


www.hagensfish.com Large selection, large quantity orders only, bi-color peg and other floats. 
BassPro Shops


www.basspro.com Not as many components but just about anything else.


www.cabelas.com Tangle Free Bottom Bouncers. Not as many components but just about anything else.

Fish Clix Banner Exchange

International Fishing Banner ExchangeInternational Fishing Banner Exchange
International Fishing Banner Exchange