You want to try your hand at catching walleye on the Great Lakes, but your boat might be too small, or its not rigged yet for trolling….no problem! You have many options available, and they all produce almost, or on some days, as good as the fancy trolling set-ups. Drifting for walleye is a highly effective approach, and a lot of fun, as well.
You can break out the old standards like your vintage golden nuggets, or classic Erie Deeries, but you can do better than that, and honestly it won’t cost you as much either. I should have added casting to the mix to go along with drifting, but even with the vaunted Weapon Rig, you can drift and put a lot of walleye in the box.
If you are going to cast the weapons, here is what you will need:
(1) egg sinkers, in weights of 3/8th, 1/2, and 3/4 ounce. I prefer casting with my casting St. Croix rod, so I like the 3/4 oz., but if you have a spinning rod, you might personally like the 3/8ths or 1/2 oz sinkers more.
(2) 5 mm beads in various colors to match up to your blades.
Big Eye Custom Lures
(3) although traditionally made with #3 size blades, don’t be overly concerned if you want a #4 spinner blade on your rig. In fact, I prefer the #4’s because I can get more color options in my blades. If I want to run my favorite Big Eye Custom Lures blade that has been killing fish in the #6 size while trolling, the website has the exact selection in #4’s as well.
(4) #4 octopus hooks, will leave the brand of hook up too you, way too many good ones out there to get into that discussion, but to name a few; Matzuo, Mustad and Gamakatsu all make good hooks. You can be traditional and use one hook, but if you decide to run the #4 blades, you might want to run two #4’s or even a #4 octopus with a #10 treble hook.
If you want to run, or should say, “drag” a drift rig, here is what you will need for that set-up:
(1) bottom bouncers, in a selection of 1, 1.5 or 2 ounce weights. Some may say they use a 3/4 oz. BB, but for me they are too light in most all big water situations when considering depth and wind. Leave the .75’s for the inland lakes.
(2) #4 blades, preferably Colorado’s, they make a nice thump in the water to call the fish in. Don’t overlook the Smile Blade from Mack’s Lures, these light weight mylar “wings” spin in the slowest of wind conditions.
(3) 5 mm beads, again various color options, and yes….you can run these with the smile blades, without getting the stack beads or “ring” in the middle.
(4) the hooks are the same as the weapon rig, just use either two #4’s, or a #4 with a #10 treble.
Spinning rod and reel set-ups are perfectly fine, that’s what makes these rigs so appealing to anglers just getting started, you don’t need all the gear. A 6’6″ or 7′, medium light or medium action rod will do nicely. For casting I break out my trusty St. Croix Premier 7′ Medium casting rod, have had it so long, yes I could upgrade, but just love it. When it comes to drifting with a spinning outfit, it is hard to be beat my 7ft medium light Avid. You will want the reels rigged up with a braid, specially when drifting, 8 to 15 lb test will fit the bill, and if you already have 20 lb on spooled up, the small diameter of the line will let you fish with that line too.
Now, if you want to get a little more advanced, here is how you can get dialed in. Start with a Daiwa SC 17 LC3B reel, this little version of the big water trolling reel is perfect for all baitcast rods you might already have. Now you break out the newest tools available from Church Tackle and things really start clicking! The new TX-005 Stern Planer works so well you would think it was made for the drifters!
The smaller version of the TX-007 that I use when trolling, -005 allows you to reach out and touch the walleye you are seeing on your graph. Set your depth, attach the stern planer, and let it out behind the boat. With no motor running in the background, they could have called this the “Stealth” planer!