During this past winter, I visited with a lot of anglers on a wide variety of fishing topics. Sometimes these conversations concerned information that we already knew about fishing, while other times we explored new ideas and concepts that still needed proving. The one fact that I did learn was this. There are far too many anglers that have not yet learned the importance of spinning blades for walleyes.
My first experience with spinners took place when I was back in my youth. We would troll stretches of Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi River, with spinners in search of walleyes. We found that the dirtier the water was, the better the spinners worked. Believe me, in those days, Lake Pepin was really dirty!
Years later, when my family would travel around on camping trips, we again put spinners to use. It didn’t seem to matter much just where we fished, a live bait and spinner rig combination would always produce something.
However, it wasn’t until about ten years ago that I really started to get into spinner combos as an excellent system for picking up walleyes. It started on a hot day on Mille Lacs Lake, a walleye factory located in Central Minnesota. On this particular day, we found absolutely no active fish on the big flats that dot the middle of this lake. It wasn’t that fish weren’t there, they just wouldn’t hit a conventional live bait rig.
Eventually, my fishing partner pulled out a couple of bottom bouncers and said we were going to experiment with spinners. About this time, I was game for anything and readily followed his lead.
and spinner combos were rigged and baited with crawlers, we started our trolling presentation. At first I was certain we were moving way to fast to trigger these lethargic walleyes, and then my partner hooked the first fish of the day.
It wasn’t long before we had caught a fair number of really nice eyes. It also wasn’t long before our activity had attracted several other boats. I am sure they thought we were crazy trolling around for walleyes at breakneck speed, but we didn’t mind a bit. We were sticking lip and that was all that mattered to us.
Over the years I have gone to this bottom bouncer and spinner combination again and again and have really come to believe in it. One innovation that has made spinner blade fishing even better is the invention of the Hatchet Harness.
Last summer, on a Canadian trip, we hit a stretch of tough weather. The front that came through really shut down the walleyes we had going. The fish had not changed location, they just refused to touch a jig.
When I pulled out a couple of bait casting rods and started rigging up spinner rigs, the guy I was with thought I was crazy. When I tied on a big bladed Hatchet Harness, he was sure I was crazy. He couldn’t believe that strange looking blade could attract fish.
He soon changed his mind. He hadn’t finished threading on his crawler before I had a fish. Not only was it the first fish of the day, it was the biggest fish of the trip up to that point. He became a believer in a big hurry.
We fished this rock reef until our crawlers were gone and then switched over to Power worms. Although they didn’t produced as good as live bait, we still continued to catch our share of fish. The Power worms were tougher and you didn’t have to worry about checking your bait on a missed strike.
Spinner rigs aren’t my first option for walleyes, but they can be a good second choice. They seem to work best when you have scattered, lethargic fish. Walleyes are attracted to the thumping of the blade and the speed at which it moves.
Fish that are sniffing at slow moving bait will react to this fast moving spinner and hit it before it gets away. The speed doesn’t allow them time to think about it, they just react.
I have found crawlers to be the best bait for bottom bouncers and spinners. Leeches and minnows often twist when trolled at high speeds. Besides, by the time walleyes hit the lethargic summer period, crawlers are a great option anyway.
Walleye anglers need to take note of this style of fishing. It is easy and extremely effective. The biggest challenge most walleye anglers face is coming to believe that spinning blades really does trigger fish. Once you learn how well it works it will become a permanent part of your walleye strategy.
Copyright © 2000 by Jeff Snyder. All rights reserved.