W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Colin D. Crawford
Plastic Baits for Fall Walleyes
by Colin D. Crawford
Many devoted walleye chasers wouldn't think of going after their favorite fish without a good supply and wide variety of live bait. Minnows of various sizes and species, leeches and nightcrawlers are all proven favorites of glassy-eyed fish. However, there are times when plastic baits will be just as productive and easier to use than the live stuff.
Most walleye anglers are familiar with plastic bodied jigs like the Foxee or Lipstick. These jigs have subtle action bodies and are excellent finesse jigs. The plastic bodies I have in mind have larger bodies and much more tail action.
Plastic baits are productive year 'round but I really like them during warm weather. When the water is warm, fish are frequently more willing to chase a bait. A plastic bait can be moved quickly, so more water can be covered. The more water you cover, the more walleyes you'll have the opportunity to catch.
A jig heavier than normal is required to move the bait along at a quick pace. Quarter and three-eights ounce heads are the sizes I use the most with plastics in warm weather, but eighth ounce heads are used in a variety of circumstances also.
Walleyes will frequently spread out over shallow flats or on points. When they do so, try front-trolling at a fairly quick clip. Tie on a jig and plastic trailer heavy enough to stay near the bottom as the boat moves along. As the trolling pass is made, sweep the rod so the bait jumps, then falls back to the bottom. A six foot medium heavy action spinning rod with eight to ten pound test will be about right.
At times, walleyes can be found over the tops of cabbage weeds, especially during low-light periods. At other times they'll suspend along the deep edge of the cabbage. These are the times when eighth ounce heads come into play. Especially the bullet shaped heads that are on Foxee jigs, because they tend to slide through the weeds and can be ripped when they become stuck, triggering a strike from a fish. Swim the jig and the tail combo over the tops of the weeds, then let it fall along the deep edge. This technique can be very productive.
Plastic lures play an important part in three way rigging on rivers. The common three way or Wolf River rig is one of the oldest and most effective means of keeping a bait near the bottom while trolling upstream. Comprised of six pound test main line and leader, a small three way swivel, a lead sinker and an assortment of super sharp hooks, upstream rigging is very popular on large rivers like the Mississippi, Illinois, St. Croix, and Missouri.
Plastic grubs or Power Baits can also be easily added to a Wolf River rig. I prefer to add the smaller panfish style curly tail grubs to floating jig heads to give it more action and added color. Dressing up a #1 or #2 Aberdeen worm hook with a three or four-inch twister tail is another excellent way to add plastic to your 3-way rig.
Power Grubs and Power Worms, especially the new "Neonz" and " Tournament Strength" are good examples of plastic baits with action tails that are extremely productive. The three and four inch sizes are the best for walleyes, although two inch Grubs can be good with fish that are finicky. Go with the larger baits when a slow fall is desired or when the walleyes are active.
Experiment with color combinations. Be sure to try a pink head/white tail or orange head/chartreuse tail patterns. These have been good for me, but so have a lot of other combinations. Above all, be sure to try plastic, action tail baits, when conditions are right, they'll put a few extra fish in the boat.
Also, if you are interested in a guided trip, a personal media
interview, or photo shoot, please call 715-545-8347. I am located in
Phelps, Wisconsin area, close to several fishing lakes. Remember NPAA
#94. See you on the water this season.
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