Ok, so the title is a little misleading, harnesses and rigs are the same thing. It depends what part of the country you are from more or less on what you label meat rigs with blades designed to catch walleyes. The boys up in Minnesota and Wisconsin call them Spinner Rigs, the rest of us who live along the Great Lakes call them Harnesses. Regardless of the moniker attached, the email question I got this morning is relative to wherever you may be fishing walleyes with meat rigs.
Hey Mace, how many blades of each color should I buy?
Its a killer question, and one that could have several answers attached to it.
Bare minimum I would say four blades with the same color pattern. A couple of reasons for this answer. First, for whatever reason there are days out on the big water where it seems that one color works better on one side of the boat versus catching nothing on the opposite side with the same blade. Following that philosophy I run four rods on each side of the boat, so I have four of the same blades to cover that side.
A better choice would be to get six of the same color pattern on the blades. Now not only would you have enough to cover a side of the boat, but you have two extra’s to replace the four in the water. Why replace them? Zebra muscles can chew up line, catching a number of fish on the same rig can nick ’em up and after fishing for so long with the same rig, no matter how good of a ball bearing swivel you might be using, it will eventually twist up so bad you cannot use it any longer. Six also is a good number because many manufacturer’s sell their blades in three packs.
So this is what I wrote back, and the guy must have been glued to the computer, because I got another email within a few minutes after sending out my reply. Glad for the answer, but he really wanted to know, how many of each color do I actually get when I pick out a pattern? Geeze I start thinking, is this guy actually going to believe me when I tell him the answer?
Not everybody is how you might say “dedicated” as I am when it comes to making and using meat rigs out on Lake Erie, and only those who are so into it actually believe there are people “worse” than myself. So here in a nutshell is my answer to everyone who is getting into making their own rigs…
I get a four to six of each new color I try out. If it turns out to be a hot color while breaking it in, I don’t want to be shorthanded out on the lake. If its a color pattern that has proven itself, I will eventually have 12 to 2 dozen of that color scheme. I also pay attention to the type of metal on the blade. There are cases where the same pattern works on silver, copper and gold. Perhaps it only works on a combination of two metals, or there are colors I only use (as and example) on a copper blade.
What brands do I use was another question earlier in the week? What brands don’t I use probably is the best answer. I love the solids from Northland Tackle in the blues and purples. There are times that the Baitfish Image blades just rock over other patterns. DBfishing.com offers me the biggest variety of blades as far as patterns go, and those whiptail blades were awesome last year while targeting suspended eyes. I have hoarded a small stockpile of Fishlander blades since the company has gone under. Silver Streak puts some fine details into their patterns. And there are many fairly new small companies putting out some fine product, mainly Fish Bones Custom Lures and JT Custom Tackle come to mind.
At some point while talking about building your own walleye rigs, I will come up with a list of places that offer the best selection of blades, as well as hooks, beads and other gear necessary to make your own rigs. If its available online, it will make the list.