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Essential Cranks for Walleye Fishing

If you need help with what to buy for trolling or casting cranks for walleye, this should help.   Crank baits are to walleye fisherman what shoes are to women. We may not need as many as we have, but we have to have them just the same. While the latest fancy finish or popular color can steal our attention, serious walleye anglers know that having a selection of cranks in various diving depths, floaters, suspenders and profiles is more important as you fish in different parts of the country or as conditions change throughout the season on your favorite lake or river.

27

Here is a selection of go-to cranks for walleye recommended by professionals and guides that you should have in your walleye tackle regardless of where you fish.


Reef Runner 800
When the first Reef Runner hit the shelves in the mid-90s, it was an instant hit. The hump design that helps move more water over its back and provide a hunting action made it an instant and lasting favorite of walleye trollers. The hundreds of wacky named color options probably didn’t hurt its appeal either. The addition of the “Bare Naked” series a few years ago has caused yet another trend with transparent bodies and a copper colored prism insert.
1
The 800’s ability to be trolled nearly 30 feet unassisted and effective trolling speeds of .8 to 3.5mph make it a bait that can be used nearly year around. The aggressive hunting nature and design of the bait does require it to be tuned more frequently than other baits, so check it frequently.

The Deep Little Ripper is a smaller version of the 800 that excels when a smaller presentation or less diving depth is required.


Berkley Flicker Shad
A plastic shad body crank, the Berkley Flicker Shad excels when cast or trolled. A weight-transfer system makes it possible to cast this bait easily on spinning tackle. It has seen a lot of time on the tournament trail being cast at wing dams, trolled unassisted, or on leadcore lines.
2
Many serious anglers believe the unique pitch of the rattle is why it seems to out fish many similar type lures. As the popularity has grown, so have the sizes and colors available, currently 5 sizes and more than 20 colors.


Smithwick Roque
A unique bait that has a roll unlike any other stick bait. Most pros will tell you it’s not a bait they carry year around, but when they are working you want one on every rod. Offered in several sizes as well as floating and suspending versions, this bait is a go-to for walleye anglers in cold water. The much louder than normal rattles have also made it a go to choice in off-colored to dirty water where walleyes can more easily locate the bait.
3
A conservative offering of colors, anglers are custom painting them more and more each year. But be warned, much like a Reef Runner, the Rogue can be temperamental with tuning and too much extra paint or clear coat can permanently affect their action.


Rapala Husky Jerk
A very versatile bait that just seems to run well right out of the box, all models of the Husky Jerk are suspending models, which isn’t unique. What makes it special is they truly suspend and do not just rise more slowly than a floater like most baits that claim to suspend.
4
Available in five sizes of shallow divers that see plenty of action from walleye anglers, but it’s actually the two deep diving models that can be found in the boxes of all tournament walleye pros. Like most of the baits in a “go-to” list, we include it because of it’s versatility. A very effective lure in cold water with its suspending qualities, it also excels when trolled at speeds in excess of 2mph during the summer months.


Rapala Shad Rap
So popular when they were first released, that you literally couldn’t buy them. You could only rent them from tackle shops. The original model is made from balsa and has no rattles and until recently was only available in a relatively small sampling of colors.
5
Much like the Flicker Shad, the popularity of the Shad Rap is due to it seemingly working on almost any waterway and effectiveness both casted and trolled. The balsa bait’s lightweight can however make it more challenging to cast in windy conditions. When this becomes the case look at some of its newer cousins constructed from plastic.


Rapala Original Floater
One of the oldest and simplest lures on the market, it still catches fish. Walleye Pro’s use them behind bottom bouncers, 3-way rigs, leadcore line and easily the most used hand-lining lure of all time. Much like the original Shad Rap, it is constructed of balsa and features no rattles.
6
The smaller No. 3 to No. 11 sizes excel in the aforementioned applications, whereas the larger No. 13 and No. 18 are go to lures for flat line or split shot trolling at night.

Originally only available in just a few simple colors, the assortment has broadened. Much like the Roque be careful when custom painting that you don’t add to much weight to throw off the subtle wobble the balsa creates.


Reef Runner Ripstick
The same body as the 800 series Reef Runner, this stick bait version features three hook hangers and smaller No. 6 trebles. The unique banana style body gives off a hunting style action, but with a much more subtle action due to the V shaped lip.
7
This very unique shaped lip also allows this bait to get down nearly 12 feet when trolled on mono, much deeper than any other stick bait on the market. This puts the Ripstick in its own category. Having a stickbait that can get down where only deep divers could previously with a subtle action can be a huge advantage when walleyes are in a neutral to negative mood.

The Little Ripper is a smaller version that works well behind diving discs, jet divers or where a smaller and shallower diving presentation is needed.

————————————–

We don’t suggest that these are the ONLY baits that will work, they are versatile and effective enough that carrying a good assortment of sizes and colors will allow you to catch fish more days than not. At some point you realize you can only carry so many lures with you and these are the ones that spend the most time in professional anglers and guides boats.

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Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the Contours for Late Summer Walleye

Walleye Wawang LakeLate summer can be a tough season when it comes to catching walleyes. It reaches its peak with hot, muggy days and warm sultry nights through much of August, and then as September nears, it takes a drastic about-face and swings toward the fall season. It’s one of those transition periods that proves difficult for many anglers looking to score consistently. “Hit and Miss” fishing this time of year is often blamed on everything from “Dog Days” to “Turn-Over”, but the biggest problem is most anglers are not fishing the right structure. The key could be as simple as “Think Sharp” … that is to say, concentrate your efforts on sharp breaking structure.

Consider the types of areas you fish throughout most of the summer. Typically they will be large, slow tapering flats, main lake basins or long points that offer lots of room for walleyes to roam and chase forage. It’s structure that has relatively little in the way of definable breaks or edges. That all changes when walleyes move toward breaks in late summer … and when anglers are slow to adjust to the transition, their success rate drops off dramatically. We’ve seen this scenario many times, and through experience found that the most efficient way to contact the fish in these areas was a tactic we call Contour Trolling.

Walleye Wawang 2The key to contour trolling is to keep the bait near the bottom. That can be tough when you’re trying to cover multiple depths in a trolling pass. It’s a situation where we have learned to rely on a unique trolling line known as lead core. Lead core line is basically Dacron line filled with lead. The line is color-metered every ten yards, making it easier to keep track of how much line you have out on various trolling passes. While lead core line is most often used for deep trolling applications, when proper boat control is used, it can be deadly in shallow water as well.

For Contour Trolling with lead core, start with the “full – lead core” set-up, meaning you’re going fill a large capacity trolling reel with lead core line…no backing. Large capacity trolling reels like the Okuma StrataMaster model 45D Line Counter reel will hold ten colors, which is an entire 100 yard spool of 18# lead core line (the preferred size for walleye trolling applications). Whatever reel you choose, be sure it has large enough capacity to handle at least this much line.

93452_is

At the end of the lead core we’ll tie on a 10 foot leader of 10/4 (10 pound test/4 pound diameter) Berkley FireLine. The FireLine is a great choice, especially in situations where you’re fishing a “dirty” bottom (one littered with leaves, wood and other debris) because it makes the entire system, from reel to lure, no-stretch and very sensitive. By running a set-up like this, it is very easy to monitor how the bait’s are running by watching the rod tips as you troll. The vibration put out by the lure’s action is telegraphed up the line to the rod tip, causing it to vibrate. If the lure happens to pick up a leaf or other piece of gunk (which is a frequent problem when trolling near the bottom), its action will be deadened, and the rod tip will quit vibrating. That tells you to reel in the lure, clean off the debris, and get back to fishing.

Walleye Wawang Lake 2

What makes lead core so effective for this type of contour trolling is that it is very “speed affected”. Because of the line’s bulk, water resistance effects how it runs in the water, so if you up your trolling speed, the lead core gets pushed up and runs shallower. On the other hand, if you slow down, the weight of the lead core enables it to drop down and run deeper. Therefore, to cover a 4 to 8 foot depth range for instance, manipulate the trolling speed depending on what depth you want the lures to run. Therefore it’s a simple matter of adjusting the trolling speed as you zigzag your way along the break to cover the depths effectively. Whatever depths you are fishing, a little trial-and-error will tell you the right speeds to run to hit the needed depths.

One thing that we have determined through the years with lead core trolling is that, more often than not, it works better with smaller crankbaits than it does with larger models. Smaller, shallow running crankbaits seem to “follow” the lead core better (making targeting specific depths more efficient), and they just seem to trigger more bites. This is ideal for baits like the Berkley Flicker Shad in the 4cm, 5cm, 6cm and 7cm sizes. Experiment to find out what lure gets the most attention on that particular day.

One problem with using smaller lures is they typically sport small hooks. Now while Flicker Shads sport ideal hook sizes for walleye fishing, many bait’s hooks are just too small. This can lead to more lost fish, as small trebles are more likely to pull free when fighting in good sized fish. One modification we recommend is to change out the hooks of your small cranks and replace them with Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles (model 36233) or an even better choice would be the new Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Trebles model TG58NP-BN. These new Elite Triple grips are a standard length shaft and wire treble with a wider giving these hooks more “bite” than standard trebles.

Follow our HUNTING BLOG

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TESTIMONIALS    BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

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Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Essential Cranks for Walleye Fishing

If you need help with what to buy for trolling or casting cranks for walleye, this should help.   Crank baits are to walleye fisherman what shoes are to women. We may not need as many as we have, but we have to have them just the same. While the latest fancy finish or popular color can steal our attention, serious walleye anglers know that having a selection of cranks in various diving depths, floaters, suspenders and profiles is more important as you fish in different parts of the country or as conditions change throughout the season on your favorite lake or river.

27

Here is a selection of go-to cranks for walleye recommended by professionals and guides that you should have in your walleye tackle regardless of where you fish.


Reef Runner 800
When the first Reef Runner hit the shelves in the mid-90s, it was an instant hit. The hump design that helps move more water over its back and provide a hunting action made it an instant and lasting favorite of walleye trollers. The hundreds of wacky named color options probably didn’t hurt its appeal either. The addition of the “Bare Naked” series a few years ago has caused yet another trend with transparent bodies and a copper colored prism insert.
1
The 800’s ability to be trolled nearly 30 feet unassisted and effective trolling speeds of .8 to 3.5mph make it a bait that can be used nearly year around. The aggressive hunting nature and design of the bait does require it to be tuned more frequently than other baits, so check it frequently.

The Deep Little Ripper is a smaller version of the 800 that excels when a smaller presentation or less diving depth is required.


Berkley Flicker Shad
A plastic shad body crank, the Berkley Flicker Shad excels when cast or trolled. A weight-transfer system makes it possible to cast this bait easily on spinning tackle. It has seen a lot of time on the tournament trail being cast at wing dams, trolled unassisted, or on leadcore lines.
2
Many serious anglers believe the unique pitch of the rattle is why it seems to out fish many similar type lures. As the popularity has grown, so have the sizes and colors available, currently 5 sizes and more than 20 colors.


Smithwick Roque
A unique bait that has a roll unlike any other stick bait. Most pros will tell you it’s not a bait they carry year around, but when they are working you want one on every rod. Offered in several sizes as well as floating and suspending versions, this bait is a go-to for walleye anglers in cold water. The much louder than normal rattles have also made it a go to choice in off-colored to dirty water where walleyes can more easily locate the bait.
3
A conservative offering of colors, anglers are custom painting them more and more each year. But be warned, much like a Reef Runner, the Rogue can be temperamental with tuning and too much extra paint or clear coat can permanently affect their action.


Rapala Husky Jerk
A very versatile bait that just seems to run well right out of the box, all models of the Husky Jerk are suspending models, which isn’t unique. What makes it special is they truly suspend and do not just rise more slowly than a floater like most baits that claim to suspend.
4
Available in five sizes of shallow divers that see plenty of action from walleye anglers, but it’s actually the two deep diving models that can be found in the boxes of all tournament walleye pros. Like most of the baits in a “go-to” list, we include it because of it’s versatility. A very effective lure in cold water with its suspending qualities, it also excels when trolled at speeds in excess of 2mph during the summer months.


Rapala Shad Rap
So popular when they were first released, that you literally couldn’t buy them. You could only rent them from tackle shops. The original model is made from balsa and has no rattles and until recently was only available in a relatively small sampling of colors.
5
Much like the Flicker Shad, the popularity of the Shad Rap is due to it seemingly working on almost any waterway and effectiveness both casted and trolled. The balsa bait’s lightweight can however make it more challenging to cast in windy conditions. When this becomes the case look at some of its newer cousins constructed from plastic.


Rapala Original Floater
One of the oldest and simplest lures on the market, it still catches fish. Walleye Pro’s use them behind bottom bouncers, 3-way rigs, leadcore line and easily the most used hand-lining lure of all time. Much like the original Shad Rap, it is constructed of balsa and features no rattles.
6
The smaller No. 3 to No. 11 sizes excel in the aforementioned applications, whereas the larger No. 13 and No. 18 are go to lures for flat line or split shot trolling at night.

Originally only available in just a few simple colors, the assortment has broadened. Much like the Roque be careful when custom painting that you don’t add to much weight to throw off the subtle wobble the balsa creates.


Reef Runner Ripstick
The same body as the 800 series Reef Runner, this stick bait version features three hook hangers and smaller No. 6 trebles. The unique banana style body gives off a hunting style action, but with a much more subtle action due to the V shaped lip.
7
This very unique shaped lip also allows this bait to get down nearly 12 feet when trolled on mono, much deeper than any other stick bait on the market. This puts the Ripstick in its own category. Having a stickbait that can get down where only deep divers could previously with a subtle action can be a huge advantage when walleyes are in a neutral to negative mood.

The Little Ripper is a smaller version that works well behind diving discs, jet divers or where a smaller and shallower diving presentation is needed.

————————————–

We don’t suggest that these are the ONLY baits that will work, they are versatile and effective enough that carrying a good assortment of sizes and colors will allow you to catch fish more days than not. At some point you realize you can only carry so many lures with you and these are the ones that spend the most time in professional anglers and guides boats.

Molly-Wawang-Walleye2

Follow our HUNTING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
TESTIMONIALS    BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the Contours for Late Summer Walleye

?
Late summer can be a tough season when it comes to catching walleyes. It reaches its peak with hot, muggy days and warm sultry nights through much of August, and then as September nears, it takes a drastic about-face and swings toward the fall season. It’s one of those transition periods that proves difficult for many anglers looking to score consistently. “Hit and Miss” fishing this time of year is often blamed on everything from “Dog Days” to “Turn-Over”, but the biggest problem is most anglers are not fishing the right structure. The key could be as simple as “Think Sharp” … that is to say, concentrate your efforts on sharp breaking structure.

Consider the types of areas you fish throughout most of the summer. Typically they will be large, slow tapering flats, main lake basins or long points that offer lots of room for walleyes to roam and chase forage. It’s structure that has relatively little in the way of definable breaks or edges. That all changes when walleyes move toward breaks in late summer … and when anglers are slow to adjust to the transition, their success rate drops off dramatically. We’ve seen this scenario many times, and through experience found that the most efficient way to contact the fish in these areas was a tactic we call Contour Trolling.

The key to contour trolling is to keep the bait near the bottom. That can be tough when you’re trying to cover multiple depths in a trolling pass. It’s a situation where we have learned to rely on a unique trolling line known as lead core. Lead core line is basically Dacron line filled with lead. The line is color-metered every ten yards, making it easier to keep track of how much line you have out on various trolling passes. While lead core line is most often used for deep trolling applications, when proper boat control is used, it can be deadly in shallow water as well.93452_is

For Contour Trolling with lead core, start with the “full – lead core” set-up, meaning you’re going fill a large capacity trolling reel with lead core line…no backing. Large capacity trolling reels like the Okuma StrataMaster model 45D Line Counter reel will hold ten colors, which is an entire 100 yard spool of 18# lead core line (the preferred size for walleye trolling applications). Whatever reel you choose, be sure it has large enough capacity to handle at least this much line.

At the end of the lead core we’ll tie on a 10 foot leader of 10/4 (10 pound test/4 pound diameter) Berkley FireLine. The FireLine is a great choice, especially in situations where you’re fishing a “dirty” bottom (one littered with leaves, wood and other debris) because it makes the entire system, from reel to lure, no-stretch and very sensitive. By running a set-up like this, it is very easy to monitor how the bait’s are running by watching the rod tips as you troll. The vibration put out by the lure’s action is telegraphed up the line to the rod tip, causing it to vibrate. If the lure happens to pick up a leaf or other piece of gunk (which is a frequent problem when trolling near the bottom), its action will be deadened, and the rod tip will quit vibrating. That tells you to reel in the lure, clean off the debris, and get back to fishing.

Walleye Wawang Lake 2

What makes lead core so effective for this type of contour trolling is that it is very “speed affected”. Because of the line’s bulk, water resistance effects how it runs in the water, so if you up your trolling speed, the lead core gets pushed up and runs shallower. On the other hand, if you slow down, the weight of the lead core enables it to drop down and run deeper. Therefore, to cover a 4 to 8 foot depth range for instance, manipulate the trolling speed depending on what depth you want the lures to run. Therefore it’s a simple matter of adjusting the trolling speed as you zigzag your way along the break to cover the depths effectively. Whatever depths you are fishing, a little trial-and-error will tell you the right speeds to run to hit the needed depths.

One thing that we have determined through the years with lead core trolling is that, more often than not, it works better with smaller crankbaits than it does with larger models. Smaller, shallow running crankbaits seem to “follow” the lead core better (making targeting specific depths more efficient), and they just seem to trigger more bites. This is ideal for baits like the Berkley Flicker Shad in the 4cm, 5cm, 6cm and 7cm sizes. Experiment to find out what lure gets the most attention on that particular day.

One problem with using smaller lures is they typically sport small hooks. Now while Flicker Shads sport ideal hook sizes for walleye fishing, many bait’s hooks are just too small. This can lead to more lost fish, as small trebles are more likely to pull free when fighting in good sized fish. One modification we recommend is to change out the hooks of your small cranks and replace them with Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles (model 36233) or an even better choice would be the new Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Trebles model TG58NP-BN. These new Elite Triple grips are a standard length shaft and wire treble with a wider giving these hooks more “bite” than standard trebles.

Follow our HUNTING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
TESTIMONIALS    BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Essential Cranks for Walleye Fishing

If you need help with what to buy for trolling or casting cranks for walleye, this should help.   Crank baits are to walleye fisherman what shoes are to women. We may not need as many as we have, but we have to have them just the same. While the latest fancy finish or popular color can steal our attention, serious walleye anglers know that having a selection of cranks in various diving depths, floaters, suspenders and profiles is more important as you fish in different parts of the country or as conditions change throughout the season on your favorite lake or river.

Here is a selection of go-to cranks for walleye recommended by professionals and guides that you should have in your walleye tackle regardless of where you fish.


Reef Runner 800
When the first Reef Runner hit the shelves in the mid-90s, it was an instant hit. The hump design that helps move more water over its back and provide a hunting action made it an instant and lasting favorite of walleye trollers. The hundreds of wacky named color options probably didn’t hurt its appeal either. The addition of the “Bare Naked” series a few years ago has caused yet another trend with transparent bodies and a copper colored prism insert.
1
The 800’s ability to be trolled nearly 30 feet unassisted and effective trolling speeds of .8 to 3.5mph make it a bait that can be used nearly year around. The aggressive hunting nature and design of the bait does require it to be tuned more frequently than other baits, so check it frequently.

The Deep Little Ripper is a smaller version of the 800 that excels when a smaller presentation or less diving depth is required.


Berkley Flicker Shad
A plastic shad body crank, the Berkley Flicker Shad excels when cast or trolled. A weight-transfer system makes it possible to cast this bait easily on spinning tackle. It has seen a lot of time on the tournament trail being cast at wing dams, trolled unassisted, or on leadcore lines.
2
Many serious anglers believe the unique pitch of the rattle is why it seems to out fish many similar type lures. As the popularity has grown, so have the sizes and colors available, currently 5 sizes and more than 20 colors.


Smithwick Roque
A unique bait that has a roll unlike any other stick bait. Most pros will tell you it’s not a bait they carry year around, but when they are working you want one on every rod. Offered in several sizes as well as floating and suspending versions, this bait is a go-to for walleye anglers in cold water. The much louder than normal rattles have also made it a go to choice in off-colored to dirty water where walleyes can more easily locate the bait.
3
A conservative offering of colors, anglers are custom painting them more and more each year. But be warned, much like a Reef Runner, the Rogue can be temperamental with tuning and too much extra paint or clear coat can permanently affect their action.


Rapala Husky Jerk
A very versatile bait that just seems to run well right out of the box, all models of the Husky Jerk are suspending models, which isn’t unique. What makes it special is they truly suspend and do not just rise more slowly than a floater like most baits that claim to suspend.
4
Available in five sizes of shallow divers that see plenty of action from walleye anglers, but it’s actually the two deep diving models that can be found in the boxes of all tournament walleye pros. Like most of the baits in a “go-to” list, we include it because of it’s versatility. A very effective lure in cold water with its suspending qualities, it also excels when trolled at speeds in excess of 2mph during the summer months.


Rapala Shad Rap
So popular when they were first released, that you literally couldn’t buy them. You could only rent them from tackle shops. The original model is made from balsa and has no rattles and until recently was only available in a relatively small sampling of colors.
5
Much like the Flicker Shad, the popularity of the Shad Rap is due to it seemingly working on almost any waterway and effectiveness both casted and trolled. The balsa bait’s lightweight can however make it more challenging to cast in windy conditions. When this becomes the case look at some of its newer cousins constructed from plastic.


Rapala Original Floater
One of the oldest and simplest lures on the market, it still catches fish. Walleye Pro’s use them behind bottom bouncers, 3-way rigs, leadcore line and easily the most used hand-lining lure of all time. Much like the original Shad Rap, it is constructed of balsa and features no rattles.
6
The smaller No. 3 to No. 11 sizes excel in the aforementioned applications, whereas the larger No. 13 and No. 18 are go to lures for flat line or split shot trolling at night.

Originally only available in just a few simple colors, the assortment has broadened. Much like the Roque be careful when custom painting that you don’t add to much weight to throw off the subtle wobble the balsa creates.


Reef Runner Ripstick
The same body as the 800 series Reef Runner, this stick bait version features three hook hangers and smaller No. 6 trebles. The unique banana style body gives off a hunting style action, but with a much more subtle action due to the V shaped lip.
7
This very unique shaped lip also allows this bait to get down nearly 12 feet when trolled on mono, much deeper than any other stick bait on the market. This puts the Ripstick in its own category. Having a stickbait that can get down where only deep divers could previously with a subtle action can be a huge advantage when walleyes are in a neutral to negative mood.

The Little Ripper is a smaller version that works well behind diving discs, jet divers or where a smaller and shallower diving presentation is needed.

————————————–

We don’t suggest that these are the ONLY baits that will work, they are versatile and effective enough that carrying a good assortment of sizes and colors will allow you to catch fish more days than not. At some point you realize you can only carry so many lures with you and these are the ones that spend the most time in professional anglers and guides boats.

Molly-Wawang-Walleye2

Follow our HUNTING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
TESTIMONIALS    BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the Contours for Late Summer Walleye

Walleye Wawang LakeLate summer can be a tough season when it comes to catching walleyes. It reaches its peak with hot, muggy days and warm sultry nights through much of August, and then as September nears, it takes a drastic about-face and swings toward the fall season. It’s one of those transition periods that proves difficult for many anglers looking to score consistently. “Hit and Miss” fishing this time of year is often blamed on everything from “Dog Days” to “Turn-Over”, but the biggest problem is most anglers are not fishing the right structure. The key could be as simple as “Think Sharp” … that is to say, concentrate your efforts on sharp breaking structure.

Consider the types of areas you fish throughout most of the summer. Typically they will be large, slow tapering flats, main lake basins or long points that offer lots of room for walleyes to roam and chase forage. It’s structure that has relatively little in the way of definable breaks or edges. That all changes when walleyes move toward breaks in late summer … and when anglers are slow to adjust to the transition, their success rate drops off dramatically. We’ve seen this scenario many times, and through experience found that the most efficient way to contact the fish in these areas was a tactic we call Contour Trolling.

Walleye Wawang 2The key to contour trolling is to keep the bait near the bottom. That can be tough when you’re trying to cover multiple depths in a trolling pass. It’s a situation where we have learned to rely on a unique trolling line known as lead core. Lead core line is basically Dacron line filled with lead. The line is color-metered every ten yards, making it easier to keep track of how much line you have out on various trolling passes. While lead core line is most often used for deep trolling applications, when proper boat control is used, it can be deadly in shallow water as well.

For Contour Trolling with lead core, start with the “full – lead core” set-up, meaning you’re going fill a large capacity trolling reel with lead core line…no backing. Large capacity trolling reels like the Okuma StrataMaster model 45D Line Counter reel will hold ten colors, which is an entire 100 yard spool of 18# lead core line (the preferred size for walleye trolling applications). Whatever reel you choose, be sure it has large enough capacity to handle at least this much line.

93452_is

At the end of the lead core we’ll tie on a 10 foot leader of 10/4 (10 pound test/4 pound diameter) Berkley FireLine. The FireLine is a great choice, especially in situations where you’re fishing a “dirty” bottom (one littered with leaves, wood and other debris) because it makes the entire system, from reel to lure, no-stretch and very sensitive. By running a set-up like this, it is very easy to monitor how the bait’s are running by watching the rod tips as you troll. The vibration put out by the lure’s action is telegraphed up the line to the rod tip, causing it to vibrate. If the lure happens to pick up a leaf or other piece of gunk (which is a frequent problem when trolling near the bottom), its action will be deadened, and the rod tip will quit vibrating. That tells you to reel in the lure, clean off the debris, and get back to fishing.

Walleye Wawang Lake 2

What makes lead core so effective for this type of contour trolling is that it is very “speed affected”. Because of the line’s bulk, water resistance effects how it runs in the water, so if you up your trolling speed, the lead core gets pushed up and runs shallower. On the other hand, if you slow down, the weight of the lead core enables it to drop down and run deeper. Therefore, to cover a 4 to 8 foot depth range for instance, manipulate the trolling speed depending on what depth you want the lures to run. Therefore it’s a simple matter of adjusting the trolling speed as you zigzag your way along the break to cover the depths effectively. Whatever depths you are fishing, a little trial-and-error will tell you the right speeds to run to hit the needed depths.

One thing that we have determined through the years with lead core trolling is that, more often than not, it works better with smaller crankbaits than it does with larger models. Smaller, shallow running crankbaits seem to “follow” the lead core better (making targeting specific depths more efficient), and they just seem to trigger more bites. This is ideal for baits like the Berkley Flicker Shad in the 4cm, 5cm, 6cm and 7cm sizes. Experiment to find out what lure gets the most attention on that particular day.

One problem with using smaller lures is they typically sport small hooks. Now while Flicker Shads sport ideal hook sizes for walleye fishing, many bait’s hooks are just too small. This can lead to more lost fish, as small trebles are more likely to pull free when fighting in good sized fish. One modification we recommend is to change out the hooks of your small cranks and replace them with Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles (model 36233) or an even better choice would be the new Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Trebles model TG58NP-BN. These new Elite Triple grips are a standard length shaft and wire treble with a wider giving these hooks more “bite” than standard trebles.

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