W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Sam Anderson
Late Season Lindy Rigging
By Sam Anderson
Walleyes love live bait, especially in the fall, and there's no more practical way to present live bait than behind a Lindy Rig slowly dragged along the bottom. Lindy rigging, allows an angler to comb a lot of water quickly. It's a great way to search for walleye schools that are scattered along a drop-off.
The key to Lindy rigging is a slow, meticulous presentation. A sluggish walleye is more apt to grab a small fathead or leech than a big golden shiner or nightcrawler. Don’t stubbornly stick with jumbo leeches or nightcrawlers just because they’ve produced in the past.
Try some Thill Floats with a light jig or some slow backtrolling of jigs. The key here again is slow down. If you think you are slow now slow down even further and watch your line, because if your presentation is in slow motion your action will be fast.
Try a stinger hook. Sluggish walleyes have a habit of striking short and ripping up the tail of a minnow or snipping the end off a crawler. By attaching a small treble or single hook to the bend and then inserting one hook of the treble into the tail of your bait, you can hook many of the short striking fish. This technique is deadly with a jig and crawler or a jig and minnow.
When those walleyes get lockjaw because of cold weather or they have been on a feeding frenzy I suggest hitting them in the nose. The analogy that I use is this: If you have just finished a very large meal like your Thanksgiving dinner and you sit down to watch a little TV, how hungry are you for something sweet? What happens when someone puts a box of chocolates on top of the TV? Will you get up from the couch and select one of them to top off your meal? What happens when the chocolates are set right in front of you? Moral of the story, a smart walleye always keeps his mouth shut. Or could it be, that when presented with an easy tidbit, even tight lipped walleyes can't resist.
Terminal tackle for a live bait rig usually includes a walking sinker threaded onto the line on top of a barrel swivel . Keep the sinker weight as light as possible, yet heavy enough to let you feel the weight along the bottom. Usually 1/4 to 1/2 ounce sinkers should be adequate for late-season fishing. I prefer to use the No-Snagg weights in the fall. The No-Snagg is a banana shaped sinker that has a balsa, lead antimony weight that is surrounded by epoxy paint and a protective clear seal coating, with a special rubberized coating on the outside. The sinker also has a stainless steel wire feeler out of the bottom that is tipped with a colored bead. This has the super principles of the 3-way and the bottom ticking ability of the bottom bouncer. Also, the No-Snagg when it hits an obstruction simply pivots away from the snag and doesn’t get hung up.
From the opposite end of the swivel run a 2 to 4 foot snell of 6 to 8 pound test monofilament. Adjust the distance of your live-bait rig from the bottom according to water clarity. In stained water the fish will be tight to the bottom so the rig should run closer to the bottom. Just the opposite frequently holds true in clear water.
I prefer to use the Lindy Rig in this case because it allows me the versatility of getting the live bait right in the face of suspended walleyes. A plain hook, or a colored hook are great, usually number 6 or number 8 finishes off the rig except for the bait.
Let the fish show you which form of live bait to use. A general rule of thumb is to use smaller minnows in the spring and larger minnows in the fall, with leeches and nightcrawlers being most productive in the warmer months of summer. However, I've found that walleyes don't always adhere to the rules. I like to have a complete selection of bait in the boat with me whenever I go fishing.
Walleyes often take minnows lightly, and will sometimes nibble at the tail of the night crawler like a small perch does. These slow biters have to be given time to get the bait into their mouths so that the hook can do its job.
That's the reason for the Thill Float, it allows you to feed line to the fish. Most anglers use open-face spinning reels for live bait rigging. They backtroll, with the bail open and the line caught under the index finger of their rod hand. When they feel a bite, they simultaneously point the rod tip back toward the fish and straighten their finger, allowing line to run freely off the spool. After anywhere from 3 to 30 seconds depending on how aggressive the fish are they reel up the slack line quickly until they feel the weight of the fish. They then snap the rod back with authority and hoist another walleye into the boat.
As much as I like to eat walleyes, I like to catch them even more.
Walleyes are susceptible to a variety of lure presentations. They'll
take jigs, crankbaits, in-line spinners, and plastic baits. But when
the walleyes turn fussy, there's nothing I like better than a Lindy
live-bait rig. Lindy rigs will take walleyes when nothing else will,
and they're easy to use. If you have other tips you would like to share
with me you can drop me a line on the web at www.samanderson.com.
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Since August 1, 1998