It is that time of the year, time to pull some crankbaits behind the Church Tackle boards in search of some trophy sized walleye. The weights go up as the fish are actively feeding after a long winter. In order to get them to bite you might have to throw out a range of lure options to entice them, to solve that issue, let’s just say I have a Rap for that.
Some of my favorite lures and sizes include Deep Shad Raps #9, which has a subtle wobble and works best in cleaner water. Deep Taildancers in size #11, have a hard digging action and very loud rattles. These baits work best this time of the year at slower speeds, and then as the water warms, you can go a little faster. Deep Husky Jerk in size #12’s are my favorite this time of the year, they rattle and have that subtle wobble of the Deep Shad Rap. Deep Jointed Husky Jerks, also in size #12 both rattle and wobble, but have that unique tail action that the walleye love in the fall, but get extra duty in the spring. If I want to run in shallow water or to employ snapweights, then I will break out the shallow Husky Jerks in size #14 and Original Floaters. These baits work well up by the rocky beds the walleye love to spawn on or down deep just off the bottom in the flats.
To speed up or slow down these lures you can troll in some slight and tight turns. This tactic actually will serve three purposes to help the angler dial in on what the walleye want most. Imagine you are running hot straight and normal, all the boards are running in line, but you aren’t triggering any bites. First up, you can slightly make a turn in either direction. On the inside of that turn, your boards and presentations will slow down compared to the trolling speed you had been going with before the turn. This can trigger a bite if the walleye want your baits at a slower speed. On the reverse side of the boat, your boards will speed up, which can also trigger walleye to bite. You can also do a tight turn to increase the deceleration on the inside boards, and radically speed up your outside boards. Those were the first two purposes, and then the third one is that now you have figured out what speed is enticing the eyes to bite your presentation.
The trick is while making your turns is that you do NOT want your boards on the inside of the turn to lay down. This means they have come to a complete static stop. Line lay down, which can cause a cluster tangle of epic proportions. Always be aware of how your lines are running, in this case not the boards themselves, but the line going from the tip of your trolling rod to the board. They can catch on flags, go under boards and quite possibly tangle all your boards at once.
Another way to catch fish on that sped up tactic can happen in two ways. One if you are driving your boat with a kicker or trolling plate on your main motor, simply put your motor in the neutral position. The second method involves your electric trolling motor, it can be on the main engine or mounted on the bow, does not matter. Simple dial down your speed for a moment or two, and then increase your speed to trigger the boards to race forward. These two methods are both highly effective, without risking getting tangled up.
Off the back of the boat, the TX-007 is the size of Stern Planer from Church Tackle that I like to run with the snapweights and inline weights. These are the presentations that will target the bottom third of the water column, or specifically one or two feet off the bottom of the lake.
I really like running this bigger size of shallow Husky Jerk, despite it being a shallow running bait in deep water near the bottom. Its tight wobble and loud rattle bring fish in from a distance and this also makes it highly effective in stained water. As I mentioned, the HJ-14 can pull double duty in shallow water to target fish that are feeding off the bottom.
Quick tip, spring weather patterns usually involve some high winds periodically, which as a result can usually result there being a lot of debris early and weeds later in the water. One way to combat this is place a removable split-shot in front of the bait for the weeds to catch on to keep the lures running true. Since my crank trolling rods are eight foot long, and to give myself some room to fight the fish coming in, I place my split-shot six feet in front of the lure. Personally I use the largest size, #2 which is 1/4 ounce. Reason is two-fold, the largest size is more likely to catch the weeds before they slide down the line to foul up the lure. The second reason is that the extra weight will help the lure get to deeper depths without letting out so much line behind the boards. Less line, less chances of bad things happening, it’s kind of golden rule in my trolling book.