I saw a post on Facebook asking what would a good walleye jigging rod, and naturally I thought to myself, I have a St. Croix Rod for that. Then I started thinking, how can I apply this to other walleye fishing applications? Since I am proud to be associated with St. Croix, my examples will be Croix’s jigging rods, but for the reader, think of this in more general terms. To the point, look for these characteristics when you are looking for a rod to do a certain task.
River Jigging Rods: Whether it is in a river surrounding or snap jigging on the big water or inland lake, I want my rods to have an extra fast action. I mentioned this in an ice fishing article when I was talking recently about using the Avid ice rods, the tip loads up fast and then the backbone of the rod sets the hook for you. My two set-ups I have involve the Avid Series and then the Legend Tournament Walleye Series rods, both in spinning models. I run the 59 and 63 MXF rods in each series, that means a 5’9″ rod in one hand, usually on a structure side of the boat, maybe a breakwall for instance. In the other hand, 6’3″ rod, more often than not I am using two rods at the same time. I have the handles on the spinning rods set up so I can reel with either hand when I have a fish on. After a little practice, it’s not hard to do and highly recommend a little patience while you get used to it.
If anyone tells you that you need a medium heavy rod to fish a fast current like the Detroit River, to use an old term, balderdash! If you were to survey 100 professional anglers, I would say that only 5% use anything heavier than a medium rod. That said, if you go with a lesser quality rod, you might need that extra power to get the same hookset that you would with either of the two St. Croix models I mentioned already.
Snap Jigging: Snap jigging can be referred to two particular methods when fishing for walleye. The first, since I live pretty close to Lake Erie, will start with the drift and snap version. This method employs the use of drift bags to slow your “troll”, which means, instead of casting to cover water, let the boat do the work for you. Your line enters the water at roughly a 45 degree angle and when you feel bottom, snap your rod tip up, and then let it settle back to the bottom. In order to keep that 45′ angle, change the weights of your presentations accordingly based on your drift speed.
The other version entails anchoring in one position, using your electric trolling motor most often. While doing this method, don’t take the word anchoring too literally, but if you want to throw out an anchor, you can if you want, but if you doing a controlled drift over an area, this method still applies. Simply cast your bait (hair jig, blade bait, lipless rattle, or jigging minnow) and wait for it to hit bottom. At this point, you snap the rod tip back, reel in some slack, and while keeping a tight line, wait for the presentation to make contact with the lake bottom and repeat. You will feel the bite at either of two times, first when you snap the jig, or when you start to reel in the slack on the fall, so be ready to set the hook if anything feels “off”. This can be done on big water like Lake Erie, or a inland body of water like Houghton Lake.
In order to accomplish this method, again I will point to the Avid and LTWS rods, but will also mention a few more options. My favorite rod for this method comes in either series, both 68 MXF. More length than the river style jigging rod for taking up the slack over a greater distance, for lighter lures (since you can be casting) you can use a Medium Light Xtra Fast action, and St. Croix makes this in a 6’9″ rod in either series. If you like a casting reel, this is where this combination of rod and reel shines.
One of my first St. Croix’s that I bought off the shelf, was a Premier 7 ft Medium, Fast action casting rod. If you were to compare this to a spinning rod, you will see the rating is a bit stiffer than the spinning models. If you want a better rod, then look to the Legend Tournament Bass Series, there is a 6’8″ and 6’10” rod in MXF that will make this method work like a beast. There is also a 6’10” MLXF, if you are finessing a bit on an inland lake.
To sum it up, there is a St. Croix rod for that. And in all seriousness, there is one that will fit either of these types of jigging, and whether or not you want to stay traditional and use a spinning reel, or break out the casting reels and get it done like that. Regardless, when it comes to jigging, you will be prepped for the lakes or rivers with either of these two methods.