There is one rod and reel set up that some anglers swear by and say works better than any of the other type of equipment – the bait caster. Then there are anglers who swear by other types of equipment and use them very well, but accordingly to the bait caster operator, those other anglers have to work much harder to accomplish the same productivity.
A bait caster with a flipping switch will allow you to meter out line by engaging the thumb bar and thumbing out the line, when bottom contact has been made, release the thumb bar and the reel automatically engages in the static position – or simply put the spool is locked up. This allows for one hand operation and helpful when bouncing all day. It helps you from getting tired too. The drag should be set at medium strong tension, you can pull out line, but too not easily.
A recommended rod is the St. Croix PC 66M. This rod is 6’6” with medium action and a fast tip. Pull 1 ½ to 2 oz of lead because the depths worked in the summer will be in the 20′ range. That is the home of summer walleye. Sure you may find them deeper, or shallower, but they spend most of their time in that 20’range. Remember not all medium rod actions are created equal. This rod has fast tip and plenty of backbone. If you are going to try another rod, hang a two ounce bouncer off the tip and shake the rod up and down. It will be obvious if the rod is too whippy and this you don’t want. You want to see a little bit of bend but not a bow in the rod. The drag of the spinner and the line will add further weight to the tip. There are many types of line out there but one to consider using would be 10 # Trilene XT. It’s tough and it stands up under abrasive conditions but try to stay away from the no stretch hi-tech lines. There is no give with those types, so the rod has to handle all the shock. A lot of ripped lips and lost fish is the outcome and we don’t want that.
There are excellent anglers who use a spinning rod and reel for the bottom bouncing presentation, but with bouncing it’s harder to operate spin cast reels than the bait casting setup. However, if this is your choice of equipment here is a few tips to remember.
- The rod should have a fast tip and enough backbone to handle the 2 oz.
- The medium sized spinning reels work good, don’t go to small otherwise you won’t be able to put enough line on the reel and will be quickly adding new line.
- The best way to let line out is to definitely not let the rig free fall. All this will accomplish is to put twist in the line and create a jumbo mess between the line and the rig. Line needs to be metered out. Let four or five loops come out from the reel and then interject your finger against the spool. This will stop the descent, pause for a second, and then do the same thing until you find the bottom.
- A controlled descent is the only way. Even though this rig isn’t the easiest setup it is do-able, it is workable, and for those who only have one type of rod, it can be done.
Bouncers, Snell’s & Blades
Most of the lakes in northwestern Ontario are rocky bottoms generally and if you drag a bouncer you are going to get hung up, or, if pulling a Snell that is too long and consequently rides too low, same thing will happen. A preferred type is the Lite Bite setup by Quick Change because the line runs through a weight snap and allows you to feed line out on lazy fish. Similar to the way line goes through a Lindy Rig weight. The bouncer is straightforward with a single wire strand with lead half way down. Be sure to carry weights from 1/2 oz. to 2 oz., lighter for shallower fishing and heavier for 20+ depths.
Snells in the 30″ range works best but a little more difficult in clearer waters. The bouncing style used is to run the bouncer a foot off the bottom and then bounce it on the bottom to a cadence. The snell should be approximately 30” and should ride lower than the bouncer; it’s right in the fish zone then. Snells with either two or three hooks are most preferred. Hooks placed about 2.5 inches apart seem to hook up good. Of course, a Quick Change clevis is a must in order to change blades often and eventually finding the hot blade for catching.
Snell test is 14 pounds, but can vary with your preference but always high quality mono, never Spider Wire. For beads, use 4 or 5mm in a variety of colors. Use a stacker bead with one bead ahead of it next to the clevis it’s easy to assemble and works just as well.
For blades carry a mixture of Colorado’s, Indiana’s, and willows—with equal amounts of each in small, medium (most), and large sizes. Hammered colors worked best in nickel (silver), brass, gold, and copper. Plus, a mixture of the other colors. Have a few darks for the dark days. Use Colorado’s early in the season until the fish get warmed up and begin hitting. Colorado’s are the preference of most blades. As the waters warms, speed up and use the slider———–the Indiana. Then during the warmest water of the season, run the fast ball—the willows. Always remember to keep things simple and you’ll be sure to catch fish.
Bouncing is really a simple presentation, there is just a few important techniques that we’ll go over, and after one trip to Canada, you will have it down pat. Your fishing will never be the same, guaranteed and your fishing catching confidence will grow tremendously.
Bottom Bouncing – The Technique
Begin with 1 oz. of bouncer weight for every ten feet of depth fishing. Unless, there are special circumstances, such as running extra fast, then run heavier weights; sometimes two 2 oz. attached to the weight snap. You can attach more than one bouncer to a weight snap if you need to run heavier set ups. For instance you have marked fish in 20’, which is a depth range that most common for summer fishing and where the walleye will be. A good setup would be a 2 oz. bouncers a willow leaf. The fish will almost knock the rod out of your hands.
Be sure to have approximately a 40 degree line angle going into the water. Gives the best hook set and best bottom control. With too little line angle you won’t get a good hook set, and with too much angle you won’t get good bottom control, except a lot of snags. Neither is desirable. What determines line angle? Bouncer weight and boat speed.
With this type of set up use night-crawlers, leeches or minnow but many swear by crawlers in this instance. The new plastic worms or gulp will work too. However, they won’t be as productive compared to fresh healthy live bait, but still good to use in a pinch.
In letting the line out, press the thumb bar and while keeping your thumb on the spool controlling the rate of decent, meter out the line until the rig makes contact with the bottom. Another key point here, if you let the rig free fall, you will get line twist and possibly a big mess besides and in some cases the rig will be rendered useless. So let the line out steady and slow.
Ok, you are on the bottom. Engage the reel, and lift up the rod tip up a foot. In a couple of seconds bounce the bottom. If you don’t feel the bottom, let out more line, not too much just enough to find the bottom. Engage the reel again and lift the rod tip up foot. Then bounce the bottom to a cadence, don’t drag it. The Snell will ride lower than the weight but will be in the prime fish zone and above the snags. Once you feel that tug, drop your rod tip back towards the fish and then slam it forward – setting the hook, hard.
If you get snagged, it is best to go back directly over the snag and rip straight up, it should come out fairly easily every time. If you try to rip it out from an angle, you will seldom get it loose.
When going through a school of fish and not catching, try changing blades, styles or both. Don’t hesitate to change blades. However, you can never underestimate a hammered finish blade that will outdo the other colors most of the time. Once you master the techniques of bottom bouncing you will catch more fish than when jig fishing. Actually the best setup is using the bouncer to find them and if they are grouped switch over to jigging, otherwise stay with the bouncer. It is the best search tool on the Canadian Shield lakes to find and catch walleye. It will transform an amateur into a pro very quickly.