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TROLLING TOOLS FOR FISHING

28.5" walleye - Rick Lahrman

For many anglers trolling has always been one the most effective fishing techniques by presenting lures to numbers of game fish at a precise depth or spread out over a large area. There are two key fundamentals for a good catch, trolling at the proper speed, and depth of the appropriate lure choice. With the modern innovations of trolling gear and tackle today anglers no longer have to guess how deep or how fast their lure is running.

Trolling Tools

Downriggers
Used specifically for constant trolling depth. The downrigger is a winch-type mechanism that feeds cable off a rotating reel through a guide system along an extension arm. A weight is attached to the end of the cable and the line release is attached to the weight. The fishing line from an independent rod and reel is attached to the release mechanism on the downrigger cable. By lowering the weight (ball), you can drop the line down to the desired depth. A footage counter is connected to the reel unit to indicate the specific amount of cable that has been released. At the desired depth the reel is locked into place.

Downrigger Fishing Tip

Downrigger Fishing Method

Trolling is the most effective way to catch many species of fish. A moving bait or lure in the water trolled at the depth where fish are present is the best way to ensure a hookup. The use of modern downrigger technology further improves trolling results. A downrigger is a spool of wire/cable mounted on your boat. A heavy weight is hung on the end of the braided downrigger wire. A downrigger release is hooked to the wire and your fishing line is hooked into the release. The downrigger can then be lowered to precisely the fish depth. When a fish hits, your line is released and you fight the fish on your rod and reel free of heavy lines  and weights.

Better downriggers are equipped with line depth counters so you know exactly how deep you are fishing. A fish finder and a downrigger are a deadly combination. The fish finder shows you what depth the fish are and the downrigger allows you to fish exactly in front of them.

Downrigger models range form portable clamp on styles, permanent mounts, some with electronic motor retrieval systems capable of lifting downrigger weights of up to 10lbs 100 feet down by a simple push of a button. Other new features on downriggers are networked with electronics, a speed sensor can be attached to the cable indicating how fast the lure is moving at that depth. Bottom tracking sonar systems using a transducer on the transom sends a programmed signal to the downrigger that will raise and lower automatically the weight off the bottom, or jig the weight up and down giving action to the lure with a auto setting. Multiple downriggers can be operated off of the same sonar signal working simultaneousl

wi1405_ArchBoardsATrolling Boards
For increasing the spread of the trolling pattern as fish move to the side when the boat passes over them trollers have two options. Trolling boards that plane to the side on a separate cord which is held onboard by a planer mast. Fishing line (s) are imagesCAO4XJBJattached to the cord using manufactured line releases or wire loops and rubber bands, as the boat moves forward the release slides down the desired point, upon a fish strike trips the release to fight the fish on a free line.

Online Side Planers
They are attached to the fishing line by the use of a line release ( clip on / tension clip). As the boat moves forward they plane to the side upon a fish strike the board will release and slides down the line until it hit’s a stop (swivel/bead) several feet from the lure.

Both trolling board and side planers allows the angler to run multiple fishing lines behind the boat covering a vast area.


Diving Planes

This is a circular diving device commonly know as a Dipsey Diver. Depending on how the rudder is set it will track right, left, or straight. The fishing line is tied directly to the front eye and snapped on a release. The lure is attached to the rear eye using a leader. When a fish strike occurs the front eye releases flattening the diving plane in order to reel the fish in with out pulling against the dive setting of the plane.

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Fishing Lines and Weights   Lead Core (Weighted Trolling Line)
Lead Core line came on to the fishing scene during the 1970’s as weighted trolling line. This allowed Salmon, Lake Trout, Steelhead and Walleye anglers the ability to use light weight shallow running lures such as spoons, balsa and plastic minnow lures to reach depths were the fish are present. Lead Core is constructed of two components, the inner wire made of soft pliable lead and the outer sheath of nylon braid which is color coated every ten yards for metering purposes referred as the term colors. Recently a new environmentally safe non lead line was introduced using a metal alloy wire in lieu of lead. Weighted trolling lines are available in 100 – 200 yard spools ranging from 12lb to 45 lb test ratings.

SnapWeight-LeadCore-LongLine

imagesCA0L2XLXThe amount of weighted trolling line spooled on your reel is totally dependent on the species of fish you are targeting by the depth required, as a example Great Lakes walleye anglers may use 30 yards of weighted line or three colors were as a Salmon angler may spool the entire 200 yards or twenty colors. The approximate rule dependent on the lb test is every two yards of weighted line will sink one foot. The only reel type to be used for weighted trolling line is a conventional level wind trolling reel, the line capacity is based on the species ( smaller for walleyes larger for salmon). In spooling the reel a line backing should always be used this also helps to fill the reel to the proper line amount. The most popular line backing used today is the super braids which is tied to the weighted line using a Albright knot, after the weighted line is spooled a monofilament/fluorocarbon leader is tied using a Uni-knot.( Note: When tying backing or a leader to lead core remove the inner wire) This entire line set-up is referred as “segmented” which when properly used places the weighted line and lure at the feeding depth of fish. Trolling weighted (lead core) line is a technical presentation requiring a level of expertise and knowledge. If your considering using this trolling technique your success would be best served if you research the fishery and species before purchasing the proper equipment.

american_fishing_wire_surflon_micro_supremeWire Fishing Line
Wire is another trolling line option especially if your fishing presentation requires to go very deep. Wire lines come in a variety of choices, solid and stranded. Solid wire know as Monel is a metal nickel copper alloy which will go deeper than stranded based on the ultra thin line diameter and weight. Stranded offers many versions made of stainless steel or copper, in cable-laid wire, 49 strand, three and seven strand wire some of these come with vinyl coatings used mainly as leader material. One of most popular wire line for freshwater fishing is the seven stranded six wrapped or braided around one. Copper seven strand is utilized as a alternative to lead core were as the weight of copper is double than lead core this achieves the same depth of lead core with only half the amount of line. The advantages of using wire line are numerous when compared to other conventional lines such as braided or monofilament, wire line with the weight and the ultra low diameter cuts through the water easily getting deeper using less line, it also has very low line stretch thus telegraphing fish strikes as they happen. Getting set-up with a wire line outfit requires all special equipment, reels are trolling level wind with a metal or stainless steel spool to accommodate wire line, rods require hardened line guides that wire won’t cut along with a roller tip or all line guides using rollers. We highly recommend if your looking to use wire as a trolling outfit, go to a pro shop that specializes in wire line rods and reels. One of the most common problems in using wire starts with correctly spooling the backing and wire on the reel to the proper level. Fishing wire with the proper knowledge and set-up will add another dimension to your arsenal increasing your catch rate.

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Snap on Weights

Snap weights are a attached/removable weightsystem ideal in getting your bait down to suspended Walleyes, Salmon, Trout, Bass and Muskies when flat line trolling. The weight sizes are relatively heavy 1/2 to 8 that snaps on to the fishing line by a spring tension clamp, the weight is secured on a metal ring below. Upon a fish strike the line is retrieved to the snap weight and un clipped from the line to fight the fish. With the various sizes of

Inline trolling weights

Inline trolling weights

weights available offers a range of different depth settings with out having to re rig your rod. Most anglers start by using the 50/50 system placing the snap weight halfway out on the line. By moving the snap weight closer to the lure increases the response to the movements of the boat and your rod. Moving the weight farther away from your lure it becomes less responsive, but more influenced by the action of wind and waves.

The farther back the snap weight is from the lure will reduce spooking the fish from biting. Snap weights Inline trolling weightscan be used on braided line, low stretch monofilament / fluorocarbon and lead core line.

Inline Trolling Weight
Another option for lures and baits to be trolled at a desired depth are online trolling weights (sinkers) these include torpedo or through the use of a down weighted keel design for stabilizing the weight as it travels in the water preventing unwanted wobbling. All good trolling sinkers have bead type chains and swivels to minimize line twist and should not reduce the action of the lure by having the bulk of the weight hang below the line.

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PIKE Fishing Tips

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You’ll love Northern Pike fishing! Pike are one of the easiest fish to catch on Wawang Lake. We call them ‘JAWS’ – the Water Wolf. The monster size pike are opportunists and they will eat just about anything you throw at them providing it falls right in front of those nose.

These feisty fish are best for fishermen who like fast action of any type spinner bait, top water, crank baits, etc. If it’s fun, fast action & lots of fish you’re looking for, then these are the fish you’ll want to target.

Where to Find Pike
Pike will be just about anywhere in the lake, so look for points, weeds and narrows. Look for structure that is adjacent to deep water since BIG northern pike feel secure with the safety of deep water nearby.  You will find these hogs hiding in the weeds, swimming in the narrows waiting for the opportunity of migrating fish and ready to ambush their favorite food perch and walleye. They also like to feed in the shallow weedy bays, on lake herring, minnows, leeches, crawfish or anything that moves. If you’re after the big guys, try fishing from point to point across the bays in deeper water. The bigger & older they are, the lazier they get. So they’ll be lying in the deeper pools & just off of the deeper side of weed beds & structure waiting for food to come to them. Also walleye are one of their favorite meals. So where ever you find schools of walleye there will be a few trophy pike close by.

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Techniques
When Pike are feeding aggressively, just about any technique will work well. When using spoons such as Dare Devils, Five of Diamonds, Johnson Weedless Spoons, etc. we like to cast right into the weeds, rip it back just to the edge of the weeds, then let it flutter down. This imitates a wounded bait fish & will drive them crazy. These fish can feel the difference in the vibration of a healthy bait fish & one that is injured. Remember, walleyes will hang out in the weeds as well. When using crank baits & spinner baits let them get down in the weeds. Bumping weeds & structure will trigger them as well. Top water baits such as Zora Spooks, Buzz baits, Stick baits & Jerk baits are a lot of fun. These are just a few techniques. There a many different techniques that will work great for Pike. In the heat of summer, you may want to slow your presentation down as they are not as aggressive as when the water temps are cooler. All in all, these fish will provide you with great memories & lots of action.

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Tackle & Rods
Avid pike fishermen like to feel the fight of a nice Pike on a medium light to medium action 6′ rod with 10 to 12lb line. For novice fishermen, you may want to go with a 6′ to 7′ medium to heavy action rod with 12 to 15lb test line. Use a 20 to 30lb quality steel leader at least 12″ long.  Very important: check & adjust your drag often. A trophy Pike will break your line in an instant while you are trying figure out what just happened. Any lure that you like to use for Bass will work very well for Pike: Spinner baits, Rapalas, Crank baits, Rattle traps, Spoons, Top water baits, etc. Usually bright colors work the best. We have found in darker water that the perch colored baits work very well. Red & white Daredevils, chartreuse, yellow 5 of diamonds, Johnson silver minnow spoons, etc. These are aggressive feeders so don’t be afraid to use just about anything you have in your tackle box. Remember, here in the river their favorite food is walleye so throw something dark green with a yellow or white belly at them. This is sure to get them feeding if all else fails.

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Spinner Baits For Pike

imagesCAYT6O8FSpinner baits are an effective presentation for covering expanses of water looking for pike. Whether you’re working weed beds, shallow sand flats, or rocky reefs, these lures are sure to put fish in the boat. Here are some of our top tips for targeting pike with spinner baits this season.

Choosing A Pike Spinner Bait

It’s no secret pike like the protection and ambushing advantages of weeds. A spinner bait, upward-facing, single hook keeps the bait fairly weedless, making it ideal to cast vegetation.  Use baits weighing up to 1.5-ounces for deep water, but mostly throw lures ranging from 1/2-ounce- to 1-ounce.

Willow-leaf-bladed baits give off plenty of flash, run deeper, and can be retrieved at a faster pace than Colorado-bladed baits. Yet, these latter blades are effective too for slower retrieves, or when you want plenty of thump in your presentation. Make sure you carry an Musky_FluorOrange_360assortment of both. When it comes to body materials, the bucktail is a bait that will have a longer lifespan and stand up to catching multiple fish. Some silicone skirts perform well, but rarely as good as tied hair. As for colors, popular colors are:  chartreuse and white, white and red, and orange and black are great producers, along with fire-tiger, and color combinations that present a perch or herring look.

Spinner Bait Line Tie Details

Use leaders when casting for pike and spinner baits with a closed coil bend in the wire form as opposed to the “V” common in many spinnerbaits. The coil secures the snap-lock of my leader in place, minimizing tangles. Leader snaps can move out of the V-bend wire forms, increasing the odds of fouling a bait on a cast. When not using leaders and targeting other species, V-bends are less of an issue as the line is tied direct to the bend and the taut knot holds the lure in place.


Three Prime Spots For Spinner Baits:

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Weeds
Fan casting the weedbeds with spinner baits lets you quickly cover water and better your chances of contacting a fish. If you spot any structure in the weed flat, such as logs or rocks, cast beyond the target, then reel the bait into the area. Hold on, as this zone is a prime ambush area.  Concentrate on working the bait around edges in weeds, like a weed wall or cut into the bed.

Sand Flats
Beyond weed beds, shallow, sandy areas are good. These produce fish early in the season since they warm up quickly. As summer arrives, they can also be feeding zones. Look for signs of baitfish as you cast. Forage is a good indicator of whether or not the area will hold pike. In some instances, you can sight fish for pike, but remember to cast beyond the fish or you risk spooking them.

imagesCAYO9AKCRocks And Reefs
Rocky zones, such as points or shallow reefs, surrounded by deep water are other hot spots. Work baits around the edges and breaks. Don’t neglect the top of the reef. On water systems where pike are the dominant predator, reefs are some of my favorite zones to look for trophy-sized fish. These areas can be particularly good in cool, sunny conditions when pike may be sunning themselves on the rocks, which absorb heat. Rocks can also be good in high winds as the turmoil and turbidity caused by waves gives pike a predatory advantage to ambush disoriented prey.

Spinner Bait Gear
When casting spinner baits for pike, use a heavy-duty rods with a bit of flex in the tip, as it can easily cast baits. Too stiff a tip and you won’t get any distance out of casts. The baitcast reel spooled with 50- to 65-pound-test super line makes a great combination. A quality drag is a must for line-peeling runs common with large northern pike. At the business end of the setup,  We suggest to tie on a fluorocarbon leader in clear water and only use wire in murky conditions. Quality locking snaps and ball bearing swivels are a must for strength, and preventing line twist.

One final thing to keep in mind is although you may be reeling baits in on a straight retrieve, don’t make it consistent. Twitch the rod to impart erratic moves to the bait as these variances trigger hits. This is a good triggering move and has r

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esulted in many pike meeting many landing net over the years.  This will without a doubt will work for you, too.

 

 

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Monofilament Vs. Fluorocarbon

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FISHING WEIGHTS (Sinkers)

walleyeFishing weights (sinkers) are made from two basic materials lead and steel. The two types of sinkers are: attached on the line by pinching, twisted on using rubber insert or tied directly to your line (Bottom Bouncers / Bead Chain Sinkers). The other is sliding: which allows the fishing line to slide or pass through the weight from a hole or an eyelet. The same principle applies in using sinkers for your set-up use the lightest possible sinker in order to detect fish strikes.

Popular Common Sinkers / Weights Types:

split shotSplit Shot
Pinches easily onto your line where you want to set depth at. Removes just as easy by pinching the other end. Used for live bait and lures.

split shot rig

SPLIT SHOT RIG

Split Shot Rig
This is about as basic as you can get on a rig. The nice thing is, you don’t have to re-tie any knots to change the sinker position on the line; just pinch it on and off.

split shot stream

SPLIT SHOT STREAM

Stream Rig

The stream rig also known as a drift rig are used commonly by walleye anglers in certain situations, such as in light current or when drift fishing in relatively shallow water.

rubber coreRubber Core
Attach to line through the slot in the sinker and twisting the inner rubber core around line to secure it. Used when heavier weight is required.

DROP SHOT

Drop Shot
Many tackle companies manufacture designed drop shot weights, round or rectangular of lead or tungsten and come with a tie on clip on the top. The weights range from 1/8 oz. to 1/2 oz.

dead shot rig

Drop Shot Rig
The drop-shot rig is a finesse technique that has been made popular by the walleye fishing anglers as well are now using the drop shot with many successes.

bottom bouncer rig

Bottom Bouncer
The bottom bouncer is an effective rigging tool while trolling or drifting presenting the lure/bait rig above snag laced bottom of small rocks, logs, over mud/sand flats, or open basins. A weighted wire feeler arm minimizes hang-ups while riding upright across underwater structure deflecting snags.

Bead Chain

Bead Chain / Trolling
Great for trolling lighter lures without having to use lead core line or down-riggers.

Bank

Bank
Similar to the walking sinker but comes in heavier weights 1 oz. – 6 oz.  Squared edge design helps you keep your bait where you want it.

Bullet

Bullet
As the name implies it is shaped like a Bullet used on Texas rigs in front of the worm, lizards or on Carolina rigs, with it’s pointed nose it slides easily through the weeds or wood without getting snagged. Weight Sizes 1/8 oz to 1 oz.

carolina rig

Carolina Rig
The Carolina rig is a popular and effective way to rig for bass. Just about any soft plastic can be used when Carolina rigging.

casting

Casting
All around general sinker used on many rigs, the top loop makes it easy to tie on or let the weight slide up and down the line. Weight Sizes 1/8 oz. to 1 oz.

 

Three Way Rig

Three Way Rig
The three-way rig receives its name from the main swivel used on the rig. It is also recognized as the wolf river rig.

disc

Disc
Used in fast water currents lays flat on the bottom where snags are a problem. Weight Sizes 1/2 oz. to 4 oz.

egg

Egg
The egg sinker is used on multiple rigs, as a sliding sinker or pegged to function as a stationary weight. Weight Sizes 1/8 oz. to 1 oz.

flat
Flat

Also known as a No Roll this flat sliding sinker planes right to the bottom and hold for use in heavy current. Weight Sizes 1 oz. to 8 oz.

pyramid

Pyramid
Great sinker for fishing swift rivers and heavy surf that have a soft bottom (mud and sand) the corners dig in keeping the weight stationary. Weight Sizes 1 oz. to 8 oz.

 walkingWalking
A very popular walleye angler sinker. A rectangular sinker with rounded outside edges a top eye for the line with the bottom slightly wider and larger in size than top, holding more weight. The bottom is also rounded and bent upwards. This allows the sinker to “walk” on the bottom over rocks and rubble reducing the chance of snagging. The semi-flat design also prevents it from rolling in faster currents.  Weight Sizes 1/8 oz. to 1 1/2 oz.

slide rig

Sliding Sinker Bottom Rig
The sliding sinker bottom rig is the most popular and versatile rig for live bait fishing. Depending on where you are from and the species of fish you’re targeting this rig it has many names the most common is the trade name Lindy Rig.

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PIKE – The Fearless Water Wolf

Northern Pike are at the top of the food chain in most lakes in Ontario. They eat just about anything. Walleye, Perch, Chub, Shiners, Frogs, Snakes, Birds, Bugs and other Pike are all on the menu.

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Traditional Locations:

Small to medium size Northern Pike generally stay in thick weeds and close to shore. They will stick to the back of bays where water warms up quickly with the morning sun and they have lots of weeds to hide in.

You can find big Trophy Northern Pike in the back of bays and in thick weeds as well but generally the really large Northern Pike are more likely to hang around points leading into bays, narrows between islands or in river current. They need breathing room and like to ambush bigger prey like Walleye. They like to hang around areas where Walleye are migrating through.


Deep Water Pike:

On Wawang Lake where there is a good population of whitefish, many of the massive trophy pike will go deep to feed.  Whitefish have more oil and are far more rewarding in calories than walleye or small pike. Deep water pike fishing is something few people ever think about trying. There will be 20 to 25-pound pike patrolling the bays and points but the really big 35-pound+ pike will be down deep.
Wawang_Lake_Dardevl

There are two ways to catch them down deep. You can jig with lures like you are ice fishing or troll for them. To troll down deep for Pike is basically the same as trolling deep for Lake Trout. The difference is you use Dardevle Spoons or bigger Muskie lures. This is not a popular way of fishing because you are not going to catch smaller pike like you do close to shore and with a limited amount of holidays, most people prefer to see action and hope them come across a big one.

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Lures & Flies:

Northern Pike hit just about anything that moves. The best lures to use are lures that come out of the fish’s mouth easily without harming the fish like Dardevle and Spinner baits. Mind you, over the last 30 years so many people have been using Dardevles for Pike fishing that many Pike have learned to stay away from them on some lakes. They are still considered the top Pike lure by most people. Many believe the red-&-silver Dardevles works best in clear water while the yellow-five-of-diamonds Dardevles work best in murky water. Dardevles have also been called DareDevils but the proper spelling is Dardevle.

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Nick Welter – Hartland, WI

Fly-fishing for Pike is also gaining in popularity. Anglers are finding that you can cast your fly into small open patches in the middle of thick weeds and pick up Pike that are not practical to go after with traditional lures. Fly-Fishing looks cool and romantic on TV commercials and movies but it’s a lot harder then it looks and can be a very frustrating way of fishing if the pike are under shore cover like large over-hanging trees. Flies are also dangerous to the fish because they get swallowed way down where it causes more harm to the fish. If you are going to fly-fish, please use large barbless Pike flies.


Below is a list of good Pike lures.

Pike Trolling Lures:

• J-ll Jointed Rapalas

• J-13 Deeper Jointed Rapalas

• Ziggy Lures

• Willy Lures

• Wiley Lures

• Believers

• Swimwizz

• Large Mepps Bucktail Spinners

• Lucky Strike Wooden Muskie Plugs

• Heddon Muskie Plugs

Pike Casting Lures:

• Dardevle Spoons

• Williams Weedless Pike Spoon

• Tinsel Tail Spinner

• Large Bass Spinner Baits

• Crank Baits

• Jerk Baits

• Suick

• Large Mepps Bucktails Spinners

• Rattle Baits

Pike Flies:

• Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny

• Dahlberg Diver

• Red & White Pike Fly

Top Water:

• Heddon Spook

• Jitter Bugs


Top-Water Using a Spook

Wawang_Lake_spookTop-Water fishing for Northern Pike with a Hedon Spook is an art form that seems to have been lost and needs to be carried on to the younger generation. There is no fishing method for Pike that is more exciting then Working the surface with a Spook and getting those Monster Pike splashing at the surface. Over the years we’ve seen people try to fish with Spooks and they just can’t get it right so we are going to show you the most exciting Pike fishing method known. Since we we very seldom hear of anyone using these lures and it’s time we get people back into using them.

1st) You have to cast your Spook out. The perfect spot to cast a Spook is over-top a thick weed bed that is just under the surface, in between patches of lily pads or along side Bulrushes. The whole purpose is to be able to fish in places that are not practical for other lures.

2nd) Once your Spook hits the surface, don’t start reeling in yet. Give it a couple of yanks so it makes splashes on the surface like a wounded frog or bird. Many times the Pike will hit the Spook before you start reeling in.

3rd) This is the tricky part. You have to hold your rod up as high as you can and pull the line tight so your fishing line is not in the water or even touching the surface. Your line has to be out of the water or the Spook will not make the proper motion when you reel it in.

Start to reel in slowly at a constant speed. While reeling in you have to jerk your rod every second. When you jerk your rod, the Spook will slide to one side. When you jerk it again, it should slide to the other side in a crisscrossing motion. You have to get a rhythm going. As you are reeling in, your Spook splashes from side-to side and this drives the Pike crazy.

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Rigging with Live Bait For Walleye

Rigging with live bait for walleye during the peak summer season will put more fish on than any other combination types.

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If there is one solid piece of advice we could give you when it comes to catching more walleyes in the peak of summer, its “push the envelope” … push the fish to their limit. You want to be as aggressive as possible to cover water but still be able to get fish to bite! This is “fishing with an attitude”; a mindset that you’re going to find out just exactly what the absolute best presentation is going to be to trigger the most bites on a given day.

In many parts of “walleye country”, summertime means “live bait rigging time”, and over the years anglers have been conditioned to slow down and methodically finesse fish during these dog-day walleyes. Modern day walleye fishermen however are looking for the cutting edge of angling techniques and we think when it comes to live bait rigging, there is a new-age philosophy that is moving to the fore-front. No longer are we tied to the notions that “rigging” only means light line, small hooks and an ultra-finesse presentation. This is a good scenario for “pushing the envelope” of what a walleye will tolerate in a live bait presentation; Putting your offering in front of as many fish in a day as possible and still do it in a manner that will trigger bites from less-than-active walleyes. Make no mistake; we are breaking down barriers here. We honestly believe this will change the way you view live bait rigging forever.

berkleysensationWhen we approach a summer time situation where the walleye bite is leaning toward a live bait presentation, the first piece of gear we reach for is the bottom bouncer set-up. A six and a half to seven foot, medium action baitcasting outfit spooled with 10 or 12 pound Berkley Trilene Sensation, or if fishing deeper water (say deeper than 30 feet) we’ll spool up the bottom bouncer reel with 10 pound test Berkley FireLine. The small diameter and no-stretch of FireLine gives you much more “feel” when fishing deeper water. On to that we’ll have tied a bottom bouncer (depending on the depth of water being targeting this may be anywhere from one ounce to three ounces) rigged with a three to four foot leader of and plain bait hook.

The leader is usually made of 6 pound test line, like Berkley Trilene Sensation, or 10 pound test Berkley Professional Grade 100% Fluorocarbon. The hook size will depend on the bait I’m fishing with. For crawlers and leeches it will be a size 4 Mustad Ultra Point Double Wide Bait Hook model 10548R (red). For larger minnows I’ll go with the same hook in a size 1 or 1/0. This is an ideal hook to use for live bait because it is a fine wire hook making it very light which helps give the bait a very natural presentation. Also, as the hook’s name implies, it has a very wide gap, giving you the best chance of getting a good hook-up when the fish takes the bait. We realize this is a far cry from the ultra-finesse spinning outfit and light line most guys would use for live bait fishing. But then we’re not out to coax a few biters. We’re out to catch as many quality walleyes as possible.

That’s not to say that you’d want to hit the water at mach speed with this presentation, at least not to start off with. As always, your plan should be to first of all locate what you believe to be a fishable school of walleyes utilizing your electronics. Summer time walleyes, ones that are typically good targets for live bait rigging, are usually set up on structure and in water deeper than fifteen feet. That makes them good candidates for spotting with electronics. Once you feel you’re on a good bunch of fish, will work bottom bouncer live bait rig slowly (typical speed with the bowmount trolling motor will be about .4 mph) through the area to try to trigger a bite. This will tell you a couple of things. It will tell you for sure whether or not you’re fishing walleyes, and if in fact they are in fact walleyes, then you have a good idea of the type of structure and depth to key in on in other areas of the lake.

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Now is when the “plan” kicks into gear. For ever we’ve heard from accomplished “riggers” that you move slowly along structure until you contact fish and then you “hover” on the school to pick off the biters. That’s not the way this plan works … not at all.

Once walleyes are contacted, you want to start pushing the envelope. Start increasing the speed of the presentation. Not by leaps and bounds, but in small increments. Where you first caught a fish going .4 mph, now kick it up to .5 mph, then .6 mph, and then maybe even .7, .8 mph or faster! The object is to test the walleyes and see just how fast you can present that live bait rig and still get them to bite it. The advantage here is that by dialing in on that “presentation speed threshold” you can cover more water and put your bait in front of more fish over the course of a day than any other rigger on the water.

10gradeA modification to this tactic that has gained great popularity over the past couple of seasons is Slow Death Rigging. The set-up is virtually the same; a leader of 10 pound test Berkley Professional Grade 100% Fluorocarbon, but in this rigging we use a very specialized hook. The Mustad Slow Death Hook model 33862 (available in Red, Bronze or Gold and in 2 sizes, #2 and #4) is an Aberdeen style hook with a unique bend to it that when rigged with a half crawler threaded over the hook, imparts a seductive and deadly spinning action to the bait that fish often find irresistible.

Of course, choosing the right bait is always a key to rigging success. It never ceases to amaze us how finicky walleyes are very often more apt to chomp a large bait like a Creek Chub or Sucker rather than nibble a smaller offering like a leech. This is especially true when fishing large western reservoirs, but we’ve seen it in many natural lakes as well. It seems anglers are conditioned to under estimate the appetite of walleyes in a neutral or even a negative mood. There are lots of times though that crawlers and/or leeches will be the best bait choice. But the biggest mistake we see made in the summer is to use inferior bait; bait that’s not lively or otherwise sub-standard. If you’re going to be serious about your walleye live bait fishing, you need to get serious about your bait. Learn how to pick out the best bait available and take good care of it out on the water. Frabill for instance makes all kinds of great bait-care products and these are well worth the investment if you want to be a successful live bait walleye fisherman.

Will this approach work for every live bait rigging situation? No. There will always be a time and place for the ultra-slow and finesse type of rigging, particularly when you are faced with fishing very heavily pressured lakes, gin clear water, and severe cold-front scenarios. But those circumstances are really more the exception than the rule. Be skeptical if you want. Stick with the typical slip sinker, light line rigging methods if it suits you. We are sure you’ll still catch fish. Just don’t get annoyed at the anglers out there “rigging with attitude” as they cruise past you on their way to their Next Bite.

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