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Fishing Articles by Bob Riege
Plastic Baits are Fish Magnets
By Bob Riege
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-eighths 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.
Culprit Grubs and Culprit Worms, especially the new "burst worm" 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. The bass angler has caught on to the idea of the "burst worm" and I believe that the walleye angler can't be far behind.
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. They aren't going to replace live bait, but
when conditions are right, they'll put a few extra fish in the boat.
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