Spinner rigs for walleyes

? When I was a little kid my Dad used to take me fishing a lot but it was nearly always for walleyes. We used to chase big pike maybe once early in the spring and always did a couple of early season lake trout trips but for most of the summer, our trips were all about catching walleyes to eat.
Bass weren’t even in the picture until I was 10 years old and Santa brought an entry fee for Dad and I to fish in the 1993 Kenora Bass International.
We always caught walleyes but over the years fishing has improved significantly in my opinion. Sure, we have better equipement, electronics and boats to tip the odds in our favour, but on Lake of the Woods and other waters in the region, walleye fishing is excellent.
Though we used jigs tipped with minnows occasionally, we nearly always used spinners and trolled for walleyes. My Dad would religiously use a gold spinner, behind a 3/8 oz in-line sinker and put a minnow on the hook. Sometimes silver or orange would work too, but Dad would always use gold.
By today’s standards those old rigs were primitive. Big, ugly hooks, heavy line and the short rods we used were not ideal for fighting and landing fish, but we and many other anglers still caught a lot of fish on these rigs.
For the past decade or so I have not used spinners for walleyes at all. When I went fishing or had guide trips for walleyes, we nearly always used jigs tipped with live bait or plastic and occasionally crankbaits.
Recently at the Shaw Dryden Walleye Masters tournament on Wabigoon Lake, my partner Troy Norman and I had success trolling spinners for walleyes.
Not only was it an effective tool for us because we were able to cover water and find fish on a lake we were not all that familiar with, it was also a presentation that appealed to the fish that were on shallow mud and weed flats.
If we tried to use jigs, we would have been constantly picking weeds and muck off of our hooks.
Today, spinner rigs are made much better than they were years ago. We can get blades with excellent paint jobs and finishes.
The rigs come with premium, extremely sharp hooks and are made on high quality line. Crawler harnesses exist, with double hooks so short striking fish can still be hooked.
Snagless sinkers and bottom bouncers virtually eliminate snags and present the rig in a much more appealing manner.
For covering water to find walleyes, there is no better system.
Northland Fishing Tackle makes an extensive line of spinner rigs with all sizes of spinners and colour patterns.
In darker water, choose bigger blades that will kick out more fish-attracting vibration.
In clear water situations, smaller blades are likely more appealing to finicky walleyes.
As far as weights go, there are several options but bottom bouncers are the most common, easy to use option.
Simply attach a spinner rig to the bottom bouncer and start trolling.
With more and more anglers using GPS today, we can even monitor our speed to let the fish tell us what they want. Sometimes faster is better, something slower is better.
At the Dryden tournament Troy and I found walleyes in shallow water and choose to fish our spinners with no weight in front of them.
When we trolled at 1.2 – 1.4 mph our rigs went down about two to three feet in three to five feet of water and the fish were all over them.
I have had similar success in some shallow, weedy bays on Lake of the Woods this past week.
As summer progresses, walleyes will move to deeper, main lake structure. Get yourself a few bottom bouncers, put a crawler behind the blade and start trolling. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll find fish. Live crawlers are tough to beat, but in really weedy conditions or when perch are a problem, you can even use plastic versions and catch plenty of fish.
I have had success with both Gulp and Trigger-X worms.
The Sunset Country bass tournament season gets underway this weekend on Shoal Lake with the Big Bass Classic.
Chris Savage and I have fished the tournament together for over 10 years and can’t wait to hit the water on Saturday morning.
The tournament takes place Saturday and Sunday.
Anglers can register right up until blast-off on Saturday morning. Entry fee is $500.

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